Aoi Hana 11 final
The season is changing to autumn and as Akira struggles to wake up, she sees that her mother has taken out Fujigaya’s winter uniform for her to wear.
Running late because she had fallen asleep again, Akira meets Fumi at the train station like every morning. Glad to see her dear friend, Fumi has a hearty laugh at hearing the reason for Akira’s tardiness and the girls enjoy the beautiful scenery as the train passes the coastline.
Helping out the literature club by storing away old books from Matsuoka’s school library, Fumi catches sight of the curtains fluttering near the open window as she walks through the isles of packed bookshelves.
Thinking back, the bespectacled girl is reminded of the time she and Yasuko shared their first kiss there in the library. Luckily her classmates are quick to pull her from that melancholic reverie.
At Fujigaya, Akira and Kyouko attend the theater club’s meeting where its members are presented with the various tales the club had thought to select one from for next year’s play.
While Akira enthusiastically listens, Kyouko’s mind wanders off. Taking private art lessons from Kazusa at the Sugimoto house, Kyouko overheard the sisters speak about Yasuko heading off to study abroad in England once she graduates, news she promised to keep to herself but now preoccupies her.
Running into Yasuko after school at the station, Fumi politely greets the upperclassman but else ignores her, like Yasuko herself now does too. When Yasuko boards the arriving train, Fumi watches after it as the train departs and seems a bit disappointed that Yasuko never looked back for an instant.
Meeting Akira, the girls head for a drink at a nearby cafe where Fumi confesses that she feels confused, having thought she had moved on from all those emotions regarding Yasuko. Trying to cheer up her bespectacled friend, Akira energetically suggests they eat something to forget those worries.
Autumn goes by and winter sets in. At Matsuoka, Yasuko leads the basketball team to many victories while she remains the focus of many students’ admiration.
Receiving a text message from Kyouko, the basketball player reads how the blond girl wishes her all the best for her studies abroad and how Kyouko herself intends to continue her art lessons with Kazusa.
Suggesting they have a Christmas Party, Akira invites Fumi along with her classmates Yoko, Miwa and Misako, who gladly partake.
Receiving a Christmas card from Chizu, Fumi lies on her bed that night, pondering about Yasuko’s question from long ago, when she asked if the bespectacled girl remembered her first true love.
Heading into town for some shopping with Kou, Akira has been given the heavy burden of helping Kyouko’s fiancee pick out a Christmas present for Kyouko, because Kou has little faith in his own abilities of buying one to suit the blond girl’s taste.
Looking over some cute decorations in a store, little do Kou or Akira realize that Fumi is shopping in the same store.
Spotting Akira first, Fumi’s face lights up with joy and she’s about to head over to her beloved friend, but the bespectacled girl stops dead in her tracks when she notices Kou is accompanying Akira.
Seeing the two together, Fumi clutches her chest as if her heart is struck by an unbearable ache.
Unaware of Fumi’s presence, Kou and Akira wrap up their shopping as they found a suitable gift. Driving the twin tailed girl home, Kou ultimately drops Akira off at her old elementary school by the girls specific request.
Back home, Fumi wonders why she hid away and didn’t walk up to Akira and Kou, for she thinks she wouldn’t mind if those two were dating although it seems obvious that Fumi’s trying to deceive herself.
Holding a small Christmas party in her room with Fumi, Yoko, Miwa and Misako, Akira teases her brother Shinobu how he will have to spend his Christmas in solitude when he comes to check what the ruckus is about. Barely has Shinobu left the room that Yoko and Misako tease Miwa about her crush on Akira’s brother, suggesting she could go console him.
Going through a photo album full with childhood pictures of Akira and Fumi together, the three other girls are shocked when they learn that Fumi is the smaller twin tailed girl while Akira is the tall tomboyish one in the photos.
Looking in another album, Fumi sees a dried leaf and thinks back on her elementary school days spent with Akira.
When Akira later receives a text message from Kyouko thanking her for having helped Kou pick out a Christmas gift and tells Fumi about it, the bespectacled girl bursts out laughing when she realizes that was the reason for Akira and Kou being out shopping together.
Thanking Akira and her family for their hospitality, Yoko, Miwa and Misako soon take their leave.
However, Miwa soon heads back and quickly hands over a love letter to Shinobu before she dashes off, her cheeks beet red from embarrassment, leaving Akira’s brother and the others dazzled.
Staying over at Akira’s house, Fumi awakens in the middle of the night and sees Akira got up as well. Noticing the landscape is all covered in white snow as they look out the window, the girls head out for a nightly stroll, visiting the park they used to play at as children and heading to their old elementary school which Fumi wanted to see one more time.
Under the night skies, the empty, snow covered buildings have a unique atmosphere, which Fumi finds appealing but Akira finds frightening. Teasing Akira for being a scaredy cat, Fumi runs through the school grounds until Akira catches up to her, hugging her friend tightly.
As the girls stand before the roofed path between the school buildings, Fumi finally recalls those childhood days, memories flashing before her eyes. Soon, tears roll down Fumi’s cheeks when she finally remembers who her first true love is, none other than Akira.
Noticing Fumi’s tears, Akira worriedly asks what’s wrong but her friend reassures her, saying she’s finally recalling that which is so important to her.
Akira takes hold of Fumi’s hand and the girls walk home hand in hand as snow continues to gently drift down from the skies.
At least, that’s what they said at the end of this eleventh episode. While based on the manga, this last episode diverges on key points from its written counterpart, it is a terrific closing episode of what was otherwise a faithful manga adaptation and terrific series.
Sad to see it end but glad the series closes off with such a fitting ending. While there is no explicit romantic conclusion between Fumi and Akira, this closing episode that stays true to the series’ nature and atmosphere also shows such an explicit end is not necessary.
The final scenes between Akira and Fumi, when Fumi remembers her first love is Akira and they walk off while holding hands is a perfect closing moment for this series as everything the characters went through builds up to this point and gives the promise their story goes on, that the girls will be happy together.
Love how this show was so subdued and character driven with most of the focus being on how the different characters evolve, change and relate to one another.
This last episode actually felt like one big epilogue. It showed how Fumi has gotten over Yasuko and Chizu, finally realizing who she first loved and loves still, for the ache she felt when seeing Akira and Kou together says it all.
Yasuko seems to have grown up, letting Fumi be and focusing on basketball and her studies. The other girls have evolved as well, Kyouko setting off on her own more instead of mimicking Yasuko, Miwa confessing to Shinobu,…
With the story ending here, do feel there was a bit too much focus on Yasuko, especially when compared to Akira, does show that on a broader story scale, Yasuko’s plot that clearly ends here was abut a part of the whole story while for Fumi and Akira the story kind of has only just begun (in the manga).
Animation by JC Staff was top notch, seldom were there noticeable errors and all throughout the series the animation was solid, with particular attention to the character’s faces in key scenes and striking use of a very subdued color palette with backgrounds in water-painting style.
The soundtrack is quite good, with mellow melodies used in most episodes and very romantic opening and closing songs.
Do prefer the opening “Aoi Hana” (青い花) to the closing song “Centifolia” (センティフォリア). Although hearing “Centifolia” play while seeing all those winter landscape images as the girls walked hand in hand through the snow had a very unique and romantic aura that captures the atmosphere this series is all about.
Highly recommend this series to all who like romantic, character driven or yuri shows. And those of you who have watched it will no doubt concur this was an excellent series.
Might read the rest of the manga to see how the story will continue there as I doubt at this point that the series will have another season.