Boundaries play a role in all relationships. Depending on the closeness between two people, and each person’s ease with intimacy, walls between people can be high and near uncrossable, low to the point where one can simply step over them, or somewhere between. Boundaries can even disappear altogether. Episode four of Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride) explores this them in the boundaries established between pairings in our group of main characters.
It’s tough going for the new leadership group at first. Kou and Futuba arrive late to the leadership camp, causing frustration and bitterness among their teammates and others. In this already dispirited mood, each person seems to let the worse of themselves show instead of the best, creative further unpleasantness. Conflict further ensues among the group, including a humorous one between Yuri and Toma involving a cupcake.
The other conflicts are more serious. Kou and Futuba continue to have their boundary issues as they try to figure out who they are to each other now. Kou thinks he has that answer figured out, with Futuba meaning nothing to him, though his actions speak otherwise. Futuba, on the other hand, is just plain confused, and throughout the episode wonders what Kou exactly means to her now. Time and events have erected a wall between the two, and they are each trying to figure out if and/or how they can cross it.
Most significant to me, though, is the wall between Shuko and Tanaka, which seems impenetrable. This episode hits us over the head with the reason that Shuko very unexpectedly joined the group; it’s because she is in love with Tanaka, her teacher (and Kou’s brother), though he is very clear and strong in warding off her advances. The wall between them is erected both by morals and by Tanaka himself. He won’t let Shuko into his space – he won’t let her cross his personal boundaries.
These boundaries we and the world set not only work between people, in a horizontal fashion, but between us and God as well. No matter what kind of intimacy we want, sin is the barrier, the wall, that separates us from God, as Shuko is separated from her love. As Shuko can do nothing to move into Tanaka’s space, we are powerless to move toward God. A sinful person cannot remove his or her own sin – he or she is separated by a wall without any tools for knocking it down.
However, there is hope from the other end. Certainly, it’ll be a icky plot development if Tanaka begins to relent (though I could see it coming), but if he does, he can bridge that gap to Shuko. And likewise, only God can offer intimacy to us, which He does through Christ, whose sacrifice cleanses the blot, the wall, between us and God.
And essentially, that’s one way to see the gospel story – the erasing of boundaries and growth of intimacy. And I think Blue Spring Ride, in it’s romantic way, will this season show the same.