Blue Spring Ride
by Rebecca Silverman,
The best romances are subtle affairs, telling more through body language than words, sometimes even using the former to belie the latter. This ninth episode of Blue Spring Ride finally really hits that point. Now that Futaba and Yuuri have admitted, to themselves and to each other, that they both like Kou, it became a matter of speculation as to whether or not they could like the same guy and remain friends, especially since we the audience know that Kou really does like Futaba. How will Yuuri react when she figures this out? The catalyst is really when Futaba comes to school wearing a little light make-up. People immediately notice that she looks somehow different, prettier. Yuuri worries, and it turns out to be justified, since Kou quickly sees the difference in Futaba's appearance as well. This is where that subtlety I mentioned shows up – his eyes get wide when he sees Futaba watching him in class, and he quickly turns it around by accusing her of glaring at him, igniting a note-passing war that gets him in hot water. He's clearly frustrated by the entire situation, and Yuki Kaji's little annoyed noises really make the scene. Later Kou takes action when he thinks that Tanaka is getting too close to Futaba, both in the classroom and later at a “spontaneous” study session to save Kou's grades. There's a definite air of reluctance to his motions, as if he can't help himself from reacting but really wishes that he could. Clearly he still worries that Futaba likes the middle schooler that he was rather than the high schooler he is, but just as plainly, he can't quite reconcile that with his own emotions.
It would be far too easy to walk away from this episode with a healthy dislike of Yuuri, although the temptation is very much there. This is a trick that Io Sakisaka pulled off in Strobe Edge as well, and is definitely one of her strengths as an author – to make us look at the “other girl's” side of the story and consider her perspective as well. From where Yuuri's standing, her friend wasn't entirely truthful with her about her own feelings when Yuuri has been nothing but open, and now it looks like Yuuri's in danger of losing the guy. Why shouldn't she do whatever it is that she does? (I have my suspicions, and it may be a lot more harmless than the show wants us to think.) On the other hand, Futaba's the heroine of this love story, so what does that little twit think she's doing? This emotional confusion on the part of the viewer is something that this episode does well, and frustrating as it may be, it still keeps our eyes on the screen.
Sadly there are a couple of scenes in the classroom where characters look a bit off-model, or at least less well drawn than they have been. There's also a bit less movement than there has been, with more scenes of the characters sitting around rather than walking, running, etc. This may simply be a coincidence, but with the downgraded character art, it is a little suspect. Despite those lower quality visuals, this is a good episode in general, finally getting Kou to start making his move and giving us those little clues about characters' feelings that make a good romance so much fun to watch.
Blue Spring Ride is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Rebecca Silverman teaches writing and literature and writes ANN's manga review column Right Turn Only. She is not on Twitter.
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