We all have our comfort zones. For some of us, it cuts a wide swath. For others, like me, the area is miniscule. But whatever the size, a common truth is this – it’s almost always a good thing to go outside one’s comfort zone, to experience a little uncertainty and to be challenged by relationships and experiences that make us nervous.
Sometimes, though, it takes a nudge (or a shove) to get us out of our ring of tranquility.
Episode one of Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride) is all about comfort zones.
After the opening flashbacks, we’re brought into the current everyday life of the heroine, Futuba. She’s reasonably popular and is well-liked by the girls because, as she explains it, she goes to great lengths to presenter herself as unattractive, with particular emphasis on stuffing herself with pastries. Compare that to her classmate, Yuri, who is adored by the boys and hated by the girls. Futuba wonders when Yuri will change her ways, as Futuba once did, to avoid all the hate from her female classmates.
Futuba seems to be quite content with this life (after all, she long ago declared that she “hates boys”), staying out of harm’s way and living comfortably as a reasonably popular girl at school. She doesn’t have to worry about bad rumors being spread about her. Futuba can just be.
All that changes, of course, with her recognition of Kou, her first love, now reappearing in Futuba’s life and bringing along an attitude of complete, frank, and harsh honesty. We don’t yet know exactly how he feels toward Futuba now, but we do know that he doesn’t like the changes in her life, namely that she’s hiding behind a thin and easily demolished veneer of fraudulent friendships and personalities, as demonstrated in the food fiasco near the episode’s end (a TERRIFIC scene, by the way).
Futuba goes to thank Kou, who was the sole person to stand up for her, but is again met by harsh words. In one quick event, Kou causes Futuba to rethink everything – her friendships, how she’s living, and who she really is. By the end of the episode one, Futuba doesn’t yet have a grip on the falseness of her character, but she’s getting there, and all indications are that this series is going to focus (at least in early episodes) on her conversion.
Because Futuba is generally kind and likeable, the change we’ll see won’t be some dramatic villain-to-hero transformation – but it won’t be any less significant. And it’ll be even more meaningful if we put ourselves in Futuba’s shoes. While we may not be in a similar situation, it’s easy to see how we often stand like rocks, refusing to be moved, even as we know we should because it’s good for us, and even more importantly, because it’s the right thing to do.
I believe that even if we refuse to be moved, someone else will move us. Like Kou does for Futuba, God will push us into uncomfortable directions, causing us to question how we live and about whether we want to institute change.
And the question, then, is the same for both the shoujo heroine and for us – do we remain the same or do we move? And if we’re smart, if we’re compassionate, if we’re obedient, and we choose the latter, what started as a little earthquake could lead an entire life transformed.