As Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride) progresses, so, too, do the relationships in the show. Unlike other series, Ao Haru Ride throws five characters together who are fairly new to each other. There is some history there, but none of these people have been in any others’ social group before. We’re getting to see a quick evolution of a group of friends, and for some, a growth into something further.
Much of the continued emphasis in episode nine is on the love triangle between Kou, Futuba, and Yuri. The familiarity between Kou and Futuba remains, and this worries a jealous Yuri, who thinks that Kou might already be in love with his former crush. So in turn, Yuri tries to get closer to Kou, and perhaps does in some way, though both Futuba and the audience is left in suspense as to what (and what did not) occur.
But even with an emphasis on romantic relationships, the friendships are still an important part of the plot in this series. In this episode, Kominato’s deepening friendship with Kou is on full display, as he aggressively defends his friend when some arrogant former classmates of Kou’s harangue him over a perceived lack of intelligence.
Kou is taken aback by Kominato standing up for him (as much as the “stoic” Kou can be). It’s a powerful witness when someone stands up for you, taking on the potential blame, insult, punishment, and pain to help you. We’ve probably all been in a situation where someone has acted in that way on our behalf; how great it feels to have someone else put themselves on the line for us!
This past week, I received a number of anonymous questions on Tumblr related to people who were having trouble making friendships. What I wanted to write back to each one is that I wished for them friendships where their friends would, without hesitation, stand up and defend them when need be, as Kominato does for Kou. That same kind of compassion for others is what my wife and I frequently tell our kids we hope they’ll demonstrate, that they won’t be bystanders, but instead stand up for others and do what’s right, even at potential personal loss.
It is also this kind of fierce love that was modeled by Jesus on the cross, who stepped in to take on the sin of His “friends” at the highest cost. And Christians should look to that example as something to emulate, both within the church and outside of it, as we seek to defend others out of love and compassion and justice, in response and understanding of the similar love which we’ve all received. Because as I hope it’ll do with Kou, and as it perhaps has done to us, that’s the kind of the love that impacts others, and the kind that can change someone forever.