Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: Blue Period

Original Run: October 2, 2021 - December 18, 2021
Number of Episodes: 12
Genre: Drama
Based on the Series Created By: Tsubasa Yamaguchi

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Blue Period. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Yotora Yaguchi (voiced by Hiromu Mineta) lives in duality. On the one hand, he is an open delinquent who goes out and parties with his buddies every night. On the other hand, he is an honor student who can do anything when he puts his mind to something. However, Yotora has never had any direction or passion.

Then one day, Yotora has a moment of destiny within his school’s art room. Sitting there is a beautiful painting drawn by one of the art club’s older members. The piece captives Yotora in a way he has never known. To him, art had always seemed to be nothing more than a series of random colors and shapes. But now, he sees that it can be so much.

For the first time, Yotora ventures off the “safe path” and picks up the brush and sketchbook. Although he is a novice, Yotora sets his sights for the top prize, the coveted Tokyo University of the Arts. And to achieve this goal, Yotora will need to push himself further than he has ever done before. 

Series Positives

To be completely honest with you, I wasn’t impressed after the first few episodes of Blue Period. Although this series had enough engagement to keep my attention, the whole thing felt hollow, following a narrative path similar to what we can see in a sports anime (except, you know, with art).

However, and I’m not sure exactly when it happened, this series turned good. Like really, really good. Sure, it maintained many qualities as the above-mentioned sports anime (which isn’t inherently bad, just overburdened with a sense of unoriginality). Still, as this show got going, Blue Period turned the volume up to eleven.

While this show may resonate with everyone, speaking as a content creator, watching the “creative process” play out was wild. Aside from the inevitable liberties needed to adapt a story, I felt every emotion Yotora Yaguchi expressed.

First, there was that initial success, that spark which lights the engine of passion for whatever outlet you have entered: painting, writing, flower arrangements, etc. For Yotora, his pull to art had little to do with raw talent. Instead, he felt a sensation unknown to him – fun.

When Yotora enjoyed himself, his pieces were alive and vibrant. He could never tell when a work was of quality, but his best always went along with a sense of pride and satisfaction. An idea that:

“Hey, I know I could have done better, but I gave this one all that I had.”

Next, there was the ugly side of creation: burnout, creative blocks, the pressures to perform again and again. In Yotora’s case, he was trying to enter Japan’s most exclusive art school, with admission rates mind-bendingly low. On top of that, his competition consisted of veterans, protégés, and people who have risked everything for their dream. Thus, the stress was unbelievable, and in turn to spiral hits:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Self-doubt 
  • Fatigue and headaches 

This environment is the perfect storm of mental breakage. 

(Unfortunately, this scenario is not at all fiction in Japanese society. I have seen students – literal  children – take on the workload of full-grown adults, and, occasionally, the results are not pretty.)

Blue Period

Then there were the strains of everyday life. 

For example, many people looked down on Yotora because he was a novice. Some didn’t believe his passion was genuine; after all, with his brain, there were limitless opportunities available to him.

But the real gut-wrencher was the character path of Ryuuji “Yuka” Ayukawa (voiced by Yumiri Hanamori). 

(Heads up, since pronouns don’t really exist in Japanese – or, at least, not like they do in English, I am a little unclear of Yuka’s identification. I will be using they/them/their for the remainder of the review. If you know, let me know in the comments.)

Unlike Yotora, Yuka had been an artist for ages. Unfortunately, they came from an unsupportive family. Yuka’s parents never saw art as a viable career path, and Yuka’s preference to wear female clothes had put a massive strain on the household.

As a result, Yuka felt they owed it to the one person who loved them unconditionally – Yuka’s grandmother. 

To do that, Yuka pursued a style of art that wasn’t their desire. Therefore, Yuka became disillusioned, despondent, and, at point, appeared on the verge of throwing everything -EVERYTHING- away.

Through characters like Yotora and Yuka, Blue Period crafted a tense, exciting, thought-provoking, and triumphant narrative. This show could not have ended on a higher note.

Perhaps Blue Period isn’t one of 2021’s best of the best, but it is a series that is worth checking out.

Series Negatives

To build upon what I started the last section with, Blue Period was pretty slow going initially. Although there have been plenty of shows that have needed time to rev up, I do believe this to be more of an unnecessary risk than anything else.

We’ve all recommended something similar to “Things get really good after the first season.”

For any story, this is dangerous, especially in the streaming era. Because there are so many things to watch and not enough hours in the day. So, when a series struggles to grab your attention immediately, you’re more likely to see it as a wall and will probably elect to move on to something more engaging.

As such, it does come off as a bit of a cop-out to say, “Give it a chance.” Nevertheless, I still encourage you to give Blue Period a chance.

With that out of the way, I need to rely on my experience for this next point.

Having never read a word of Blue Period’s source material, I would wager to guess that the manga is much denser than this anime adaptation. This story, particularly its characters, did appear to fall victim to a long, more in-depth narrative needing to reduce itself to fit a limited time frame.

Although we got excellent glimpses of Yotora and Yuka’s growth, there were plenty of other people this show could have explored. For instance, Yotora’s friends.

At their introduction, this group came off as nothing more than a collection of hoodlums. However, they were much more. Yotora’s friends were not fair-weather-friends. No, each of them cared for the others and went all-in with supporting one another’s dreams.

Hence, it would have been nice to get to know them better.

I’m not surprised Blue Period was as restrained as it was; you see it all the time. That is why most anime are “adaptations.”

Still, overlooking what this show couldn’t fit into itself, what it did have was fantastic. To the artist out there – from all disciplines -expect to see a part of yourself in this series.

Blue Period hits the right notes.

Final Thoughts

Despite its slow beginning, when this show got going, it was impossible to put down. In a word, this series was “relatable.”

While using its characters’ passions and struggles, we got a story that had a ton of heart. It would be a real shame if you let this one pass you by.

Blue Period has earned itself a recommendation.

But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Blue Period? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m Odyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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