Blue Period episode 12 was just aired and with it the season 1 of Blue Period came to an end.
While fall 2021 was filled end-to-end with great shows, Blue Period’s more heartfelt themes and portrayals of issues that were previously not tackled properly in mainstream anime make it stand out.
Blue Period is written by mangaka Yamaguchi Tsubasa and has been serialized in Kodansha's seinen manga magazine Monthly Afternoon since 2017. In October 2021, the anime adaptation from Seven Arcs studio started airing on Netflix.
What makes Blue Period such a relatable anime?
Blue Period is centered around Yaguchi Yatora, a delinquent with piercings and bleached hair who is also a diligent student with good scores and a polite demeanor. When his friend Ayukawa “Yuka” Ryuuji drags him to the school’s art club, Yatora sees a painting done by his upperclassman Mori Maru, and is instantly drawn to art.
As he starts to draw and paint, he discovers not only a latent talent, but a passion so deep that it compels him to change his entire career plan. Yatora aims to get into Tokyo University of the Arts, or Geidai, which has an incredibly high prestige as Japan’s only public fine arts university with an equally low acceptance rate.
Yatora enrolls into a cram school, meets his fellow art students Hashida Haruka, Kuwana Maki, and most importantly, Takahashi Yotasuke. The anime chronicles Yatora’s journey through his exams at Geidai, and his own development through the development of his art and art style.
Blue Period has always been criticized for being information heavy. Even in the manga, four or five pages in a single stretch are often dedicated to informing the reader about an art style or an artist, and this does not translate well into the anime either. However, the chief downside from the manga to the anime is the animation.
Seven Arc’s art style is no less beautiful than the art in the manga, especially since paintings are rendered most realistically, but the animation is not as fluid or seamless as fans expected it to be.
Additionally, although Blue Period has a better chapter to episode ratio than most recent anime, only 25 chapters are depicted in 12 episodes, Blue Period manga chapters are long and detailed, giving the anime a rushed feeling in adapting roughly two chapters per episode. However, the intro “EVERBLUE” by Omoinotake and outro “Replica” by Mol-74 both are fitting and enjoyable, and the voice acting is superb.
Now why is Blue Period so beloved?
Blue Period is filled end to end with complex and relatable characters. The protagonist Yaguchi Yatora suffers from Imposter Syndrome, and yet is a hard worker. Yatora’s lack of confidence and arrogance are contrasted with Yotasuke’s natural faith in his skills and his insecurity regarding his own value.
Yuka’s troubles with their gender, gender identity, and gender expression, three different issues that are highlighted equally, is mixed with the pressure from their circumstances to pursue Japanese Art.
There are Yatora's classmates from cram school, Kuwana Maki, who is crumbling under people’s expectation for her to follow in the footsteps of her genius sister, and Hashida Haruka, who is simply passionate about everything fine arts and painting. These characters give Blue Period both depth and layers.
Treatment of sensitive issues
Blue Period openly depicts and discusses several sensitive issues. The downside of cram schools, the stress of exams that can manifest as physical ailments, how far social and familial pressure can push a child, are all discussed in careful detail.
Yatora’s declining mental state and Yotasuke’s social anxiety are also handled well. Most prominently, Yuka’s struggle with gender and identity, and how Yatora unlearns and relearns what society had taught him regarding the LGBTQIA+ community in order to provide proper support to his friend will definitely touch many hearts.
Blue Period is a relatable anime. It draws the viewer in by way of its characters and the situations in which they are portrayed. From Yatora’s doubts regarding his own skill to Yotasuke’s envy of extroverts who can easily communicate with others, and from Yuka’s suffocating family situation to Kuwana’s simultaneous love and resentment for her sister, every viewer will find something or someone to relate to in Blue Period.
Is Blue Period the best anime of Fall 2021? Well, like art, that is a subjective opinion. For some it might be overshadowed by Ousama Ranking or Komi Can't Communicate. But is Blue Period an essential anime to watch? Yes. Even for those who watch anime only for Battle Sakuga and the fast-paced plot developments or fluid animation, Blue Period, as subtle and common place as it is, is a necessary watch simply by virtue of the story it tells and how it tells that story.
This article would go as far as to suggest that the viewers read the manga after finishing the anime.
From being indecisive to finding new passions to gender identity to mental health issues to how we express ourselves, every reader will find some character, or even multiple ones, to relate to. There are some aspects of Blue Period that will entrance them. Like its core message that art can be whatever a person wants it to be, Blue Period can also become whatever the viewers want it to be.
Interested readers can stream the season 1 of Blue Period on Netflix.
Note: The article reflects the views of the writer.