Friday, June 21, 2013

Aoi Hana

 
Aoi Hana, known in english as Sweet Blue Flowers, is an 11-episode Yuri series that aired in the summer of 2009. It follows Manjoume Fumi as she returns to her hometown after having been gone for 10 years. As she starts her first day of high school, she inadvertenly meets her old friend Okudaira Akira, who is starting her first day at a different high school. Though the two don't recognize each other initally, when they realize who the other is, their friendship picks up right where it left off when they were children. As the series progresses, so too do their intrapersonal relationships, with heartbreak, friendship, and betrayl all being served on the cake menu.

Expect to see A LOT of crying in this series.

Aoi Hana is a slow moving, character-driven series with a distinctive sleepy feel. With the general soft tones of the show, it has a fragile tone, which matches the emotions of the characters. Many of the characters experience unrequieted love, and wanting for things you can't (or shouldn't) have is a common theme. Despite that, this series is one of the richest i've seen in the Yuri genre, which is catagorized mostly by fetish types instead of real Lesbian themes. That's part of what makes the series stand out, that it feels more real, like there are people that may have actually gone through this. Considering the shortage of Yuri titles in general, i was ready to take whatever i can get, but this one really rose to the challenge beautifully.

Sweet describes this series nicely.

The style is semi-distinctive due to the whole pallet looking like it was done in watercolour. The lines are thin, the colours light, the movements fleeting. The soundtrack is similar in nature, being filled with soft, emotional pieces. The image it creates is one of a girl-centric world, whereby the men are mostly a plot twist. while this makes it sound like it ignores males, it's more that they just don't play too key a role within the relationships of the main characters. Sure, some of them might have hangups on life due to a man, but all the same, the focus is still primarily on the girls.

I can tell, Akira. If I were you, I'd avoid the Kira Fansubs edition if possible, since it's riddled with spelling and grammar errors.

Considering the vast shortage of Yuri titles out there, this one isn't one you'll run across without much prompting, but all the same, it's well worth seeking it out. Part of the reason it's special is BECAUSE it's rare. Low DVD sales sadly robbed this series of a second season, which is a crying shame in my book. Yuri isn't as popular a genre as the other ones out there (Yuri is especially eclipsed by its much more common brother, Yaoi), which is also a shame since it has so much more to offer than it currently does. Even without the Yuri title, this show makes for an excellent Shojo or Josei series as well, which means that if people were willing to look past the Lesbian angle, it may have done better in sales, and thus as a whole.

Oh Snap.

Aoi Hana is available from Kira Fansubs, Shin-GX Subs, Fairy Tale Fansub (Italian), and Yamayurikai Fansubs (German). There's also an edition floating around from Gogoanime.com. It is also licensed in North America by The Right Stuf as Sweet Blue Flowers under their Lucky Penny label. The manga is available in France as Fleurs Bleues and in the US digitally by JManga.


4/5

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