Blue Spring Ride (2014)
Nicholas Driscoll
May 21, 2015
Note: review may contain spoilers

Confession time: I honestly really enjoy shojo manga. I don’t read a lot of manga anymore, but I often actually prefer shojo manga over a lot of the shonen manga options out there. I enjoy the silly romance and the over the top expressions of the romantic comedies especially, though some of the dramatic ones are ok, too. Sometimes shojo comics can depict complex interpersonal relationships in a smart and compelling way. I appreciate that. Longtime readers of my reviews will find none of this surprising, given my positive reviews of Nana (2005) and Nana 2 (2006)—and I also really liked the 2006 Love*Com, and loved Whisper of the Heart (1995) and greatly enjoyed From Up on Poppy Hill (2011). Recently I got a chance to watch several movies based on shojo comics—one of which was Blue Spring Ride, based on the comics by Io Sakisaka. Unfortunately, this movie was a ride I would have liked to have gotten off of.

For what it’s worth, I am going to be discussing this movie complete with spoilers, and I am probably going to complain a bit, so you are forewarned.

Let’s jump right on board, shall we?

Yoshioka Futaba is a spunky, somewhat tomboyish (at least according to her) teen girl who has given up on romance in order to pursue friendships with a gaggle of snobs at her high school. However, suddenly she runs into a ludicrously rude dude who chastises her and calls her names and so on—and she is in love! This dude—Ko Mabuchi—is an old crush from junior high. They had a mutual attraction at the time, and their relationship had advanced to the point of staring at each other a lot. Unfortunately, when junior high Ko actually proposes a date to the summer festival, he proceeds to stand her up and suddenly transfers to Nagasaki with no explanation. But now her crush is back and is a big jerk, but Yoshioka is still wild for the guy. Because of his mockery and insults, she dumps all her current friends and finds a new bestie—Yuri, who also falls for frosty, frowning Ko.

Then—drama!—Ko accidentally kisses Yoshioka somehow. (I don’t really get it—someone bumped him or he tripped on a pebble or there was a breeze or something, and he falls into a lingering kiss and… what the heck, that is not what would happen! They would bang their heads and get a bruise or something!) Then he kisses her *for real*!!!!! Gosh, he actually loves Yoshioka despite insulting her all the time! But then—terrible!—he tells her he just kissed her because he got caught up in the moment. No real love stuff going on. Sadness! Oh, but then he wants to “make up for standing her up” at the summer festival so many years ago, and they make a new plan to meet again at the festival and—shoowee, love is in the air, folks!

But then Ko stands her up again! Because he had to zip off to Nagasaki again! And he doesn’t explain jack to her again! But Yoshioka is head over heels for the blithering non-communicative creepface, because gosh what a hottie or something. But then, oh no! Another rival appears! Another former classmate of Ko’s is super crazy in-love with Ko and will do anything to be with him! And Ko is totally spending all his time with Yui because they both share a tragic past and it’s totally deep feels! Will Yoshioka ever capture Ko’s love, because that’s really the only thing that matters period?

Can I just spoil the ending? Would that be okay? I’m just going to spoil it. Ko was in love with Yoshioka the whole time.

The whole time.

Yoshioka, he says, is the only girl he has ever loved. In fact, he had been mooning over her ever since he left for Nagasaki when his parents divorced, and he loved her so much he like totally carved the date and time of their planned rendezvous at the summer festival into his junior high desk in Nagasaki. He was mooning over that missed date for years. So, when he finally met her again, he insulted her, told her he didn’t like her, kissed her, told her it wasn’t for real, then, when he got the chance to do things over again, HE STOOD HER UP AGAIN because he had to go to Nagasaki RIGHT NOW when his former classmate’s dad up and dies. I mean, Ko can’t wait ONE NIGHT to spend with Yoshioka or explain ANY OF THIS to the girl he “loves.”

Instead, when Yoshioka confesses her love to him, he rejects her because he feels sorry for Yui and he wants to spend loads of time with Yui because Yui is so sad. Because the best way to make a girl feel better is to pretend that you like her for a few weeks, then dump her for the girl you actually are in love with but have been treating like trash the entire movie. This guy has the communicative competence of a chimpanzee that lobs its poo at everyone it loves. “Hey, I love you! Here’s some poop in the eye!”

Okay. Breathe deeply here, Nick. It’s the jet lag that’s making you so annoyed.

Nope. On second thought, it’s definitely this movie’s utterly asinine plot!

Thing is, there is a lot in the movie that’s not too bad. The acting is fairly solid, for example. Model and actress Tsubasa Honda makes for a likable lead as Yoshioka. Masahiro Higashide is appropriately wooden and unemotional as Ko—I mean, he does wooden as naturally as a tree. There are actually a whole bevy of other, slightly nicer and more fun characters in the movie as well, such as Aya Kominato—Ko’s best friend and silly dork with an unrequited crush on a tall beauty. Or Kikuchi, who also falls in love with Yoshioka but has the decency not to insult her and lie to her all the time.

But we have to focus on the thunderously stupid romance for the entire movie instead of the other guys.

Man, the more I think about this movie, the more I dislike it. But hey, it has some nice piano melodies to grab the heart and distract the audience from the utterly unromantic crap plot. There actually are some genuinely touching moments sprinkled in, too. The movie tries to be profound, dealing with grief and loss and “being true to yourself”(okay, that’s not deep), and sometimes by some minor miracle things come together and, pop, the vision of the film crystalizes and the audience maybe even cries a bit.

But at the end, we’re really crying because gosh darn that was a crappy romance. My advice to Yoshioka is: Stay away from Mabuchi—he has an avoidant, uncommunicative attachment style that will drive you crazy for the rest of your life. And my advice to you, kind reader, is stay away from this movie (which you probably can’t find in America anyway), because it will drive you crazy for two hours.