Blue Period is one of those anime that just kind of perfectly captures a moment most people can relate to. That moment when you realised that you were just going through the motions and the things you did weren’t necessarily the things you enjoyed doing. However, despite realising that you may not have known what else you wanted to do and so got stuck in indecision. Or you tried to change but found it too hard and that there were too many obstacles in your way.
It’s always wonderful when a story can perfectly capture a universal feeling and portray it in a way that doesn’t make you feel like everything is hopeless and futile as it gets so caught up in its own pretension.
The first few episodes of Blue Period are a refreshing surprise, introducing the audience to protagonist Yatora Yaguchi who is very much going through the motions and meeting the expectations of his parents, teachers, and friends, and is very much just drifting through life. Then one morning he sees the city. The same city he always sees. And remembering some artwork he saw from another student that had captured his interest he grabs a paintbrush and tries to capture what he saw and felt in that moment.
And a new fire is lit within him as he finally found something he wanted to do.
Now, in the real world such fires are ignited inside people all the time and just as quickly quashed by the harsh reality of a lack of technique, time to practice, support of others, equipment, or just the fact that even if you worked really hard every moment of every day that is no guarantee of success. Blue Period acknowledges many of these hurdles but at its heart its trying to be inspiring so at times viewers may find Yatora gets a bit of an easy ride (yes I know he’s working himself to near illness but as many other characters in the story discover that’s not always enough).
Blue Period knows what it wants to convey and does it stunningly.
Given the subject matter of this anime is about someone aspiring to become an artist the anime itself is full of art. Characters are constantly creating or appraising works or discussing art and techniques that can be used. Fortunately it is visually impressive enough to pull this off and leave you feeling that the anime itself is something of an artwork (and yes I know all anime is art but a lot of the time the emphasis isn’t put into making something art so much as conveying the story quickly and expediently).
There’s also a genuine progression in the art of Yatora as he goes from inspired amateur to someone who has dedicated pretty much the final two years of his high school experience to art school. The final work he creates in the anime for his university entrance exam is a joy to behold even if there was a bit too much drama in the making of it.
And that’s perhaps my only real criticism of Blue Period. The DRAMA. Now don’t get me wrong, it is supposed to be dramatic about discovering yourself and overcoming limits and so on and so forth. And some of the drama lands right where it should. Such as Yatora’s relationship with Ryuuji and his desperate attempt to reach out to him when Ryuuji has hit an all time low. Or even his strained relationship with Yotasuke which I actually kind of wish we’d seen a little more of.
However other drama such as Yatora getting sick right before the exam just felt like they were trying to milk one last rise from the audience. It kind of cheapened all the effort and time Yatora had put into his preparations. The situation already had enough drama and tension with Blue Period essentially having been a build up to that moment and it was kind of time for the story to sit back and let Yatora show his growth over the series. We didn’t need him nearly collapsing to make us any more emotionally invested.
Its a minor criticism in an otherwise well paced and thought out narrative that really does do exactly what it seems to have set out to do.
Blue Period also establishes a very solid support cast around Yatora throughout its run time. Here we have anime parents that are occasionally seen and even seem to parent in a positive manner. We have teachers who both support and encourage growth but others who are well meaning but don’t quite get it. We have friends and rivals (sometimes in the same package) that Yatora continues to interact with and have their own goals and baggage to work through.
Basically Blue Period has managed to make a world that feels real and a cast of characters that audience members can connect with and its done it all in an anime that looks great. While it isn’t perfect there’s very little to complain about and Blue Period is definitely an anime worth trying.
As always, I’d love to know your thoughts on the anime so be sure to leave a comment below.
Images from: Blue Period. Dir. K Masunari. Seven Arcs. 2021
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