Blue period; what lies beneath the canvas

{Spoilers for all of chapter 1}

The problem of identity and self image is not a new one, especially not in anime or manga. Plenty of protagonists have searched for means to express themselves and to realize that expression. From Comic girls’ Kaoruko to Hidamari sketch’s Yuno. In that case, what makes Blue period so different and so special?

Blue period follows Yaguchi Yataro, a delinquent who’s studious, cheerful and uncharacteristically (to a typical delinquent at least) likable. He’s also completely apathetic to everything he does.

The first thing you notice when opening up even the very first chapter is the distinct art style. It’s not something completely original as for example the uniqueness of Made in Abyss or Houseki no kuni, but its details and use of shading is what makes it pop.

And I’m talking detail

Another big part of both the appeal and the manga itself if Yaguchi, the main character. He hangs out with his friends, watches sports matches, smokes just cause his friends do so and skips or sleeps through lessons. He studies hard and doesn’t feel anything towards it, he has no motivation and resorts to doing what his parents or friends expect from him. Not only does the art student Yuka notice and call him out for this, but so does the art teacher, saying that she wants to see what kind of scenery he wants to paint for the class assignment for others to see.

He expresses open confusion by being lectured by those he sees different from him, “the starving artists who are content with just drawing”, as much as his teacher may have talked about them being closer to money hungry businessmen or art schools being extremely expensive. He doesn’t get why someone would want to do something you can’t even make a living out of just cause you’re passionate about it. He just wants to play it safe, both with his career life and social life.

When watching the final match he feels something close to guilt. Honesty just makes it impossible to survive. He doesn’t want to be lectured by those who just fool around with their natural talent and know nothing about him, only what they think they do. Why is he shouting so hard over something he didn’t even do? What part did he play, this isn’t about him. Who’s feelings are these?

He tries to find his reasons, to explain his behavior somehow, but the words of Yuka and the teacher just ring in his head. After all, he goes about doing things the only way he know how – telling them things they want to hear and making their story more interesting than his. They become the star. He does something uncharacteristic for once, commenting on how pretty the morning view of Shibuya looks, only to get laughed at being poetic and brush it off. He’s getting good results after all, nothing to worry about. The words from one of Yuka’s friends and the author of the previously shown painting take him by surprise:

And she even explains it pretty well to Yaguchi too, even inspiring him in the process. When something is written off to just “natural talent” it makes it sound as if the person did nothing at all to contribute to their own work. Yaguchi used it to sound nice, but Senpai carefully explained her feelings about that phrase to him, all while resonating with his own subconscious thoughts.

Yaguchi decided to take on the task of painting his favorite scenery seriously this time. He uses the technique Senpai talked about and tries to overlap different colors, to get the sleepy feeling he desires to portray. The faint glowing of the building, the stillness, a fresh day’s start…

He expresses his true feelings and opinion through the piece, choosing to accept the possible negative parts of it as pieces of the scenery. He likes everything about it, both good and bad and states it boldly, as scary as it feels.

His effort wasn’t in vain. He gets his own kind of reward. Even Yuka notices and unwillingly praises it for mixing two different colors in that technique. More importantly, his friends accept that part of him. While they remember the original story Yaguchi made up of hearing a friend say it, they talk about Yaguchi capturing the atmosphere and asking whether he sees it like this. To his own embarrassment he tears up, but his friends don’t make fun of him, they resort to light teasing.

The real key lies in what he learned from this experience. Art can be fun and can be a language with no words. It was his first lesson in opening up and communicating with others for real. While he’s still skeptical about doing something just for fun, and has no plans for instantly becoming an artist and applying to an arts school all of a sudden, he begins to grasp the value of honesty in communication and his true passion.

What lies beneath the canvas is the honest self of Yataro Yaguchi.

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