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Why You Should Read Blue Period

Blue Period is a manga about a kid who tries to go to art school. It’s a simple premise but it manages to expand on its world so vividly that I came away with a different perspective on life altogether. The main character Yatora is introduced as a brash person who values going through the motions in life to an extreme extent. It becomes clear that he doesn’t value his own feelings, but rather is content with essentially living the lives of others. His life changes when he sees a painting in his school’s Art Room that sets him on a crash course into the art world.

Blue Period contains many side characters that are also crucial to the story as well, with each of them being equally as fleshed out as Yatora. Ryuji is one of these characters. She is trans and her character arc is treated with lots of respect. This is a breath of fresh air for manga, a medium which has oftentimes failed to represent the trans experience in a positive and meaningful way. Ryuji’s struggles are clearly understood by the audience and, in turn, she helps Yatora through his struggles of acceptance and self doubt. Yotasuke serves as the secondary main character; he’s shy and is quick to dismiss others who try to reach out to him. As a troubled genius, we see him struggling to relate to others while possessing extreme technical skill in art. He does possess a soft side which the reader slowly discovers as the story progresses. Finally, my personal favorite character Hashida is just a really cool guy. An art nerd whose character design is basically a yaoi stereotype. He doesn’t serve much of a role in the story but he has quickly become a fan favorite.

Blue Period is brilliant because its main focus doesn’t rely on extolling technique or trying to create rivals that the main character bitterly hates. Blue Period understands that art as a whole is a reflection of the human experience and to truly appreciate art one must learn to appreciate themselves and others. This is seen through Yatora’s many mental barriers which hold him back from creating the art that truly reflects him as a person. These barriers include issues of imposter syndrome, depression, and lack of understanding others. All of which are topics that the typical slice of life manga (manga revolving around everyday human life) typically doesn’t cover.

Blue Period in many ways is as much about art as it is a meditation on Yatora’s mental health. This meditation sets it apart from many of its contemporaries. While many manga dealing with art at its core create rivals and extol virtues of valuing work over everything, this manga understands that’s not a healthy mentality. This is extremely relieving, especially considering that art school itself is an extremely high pressure environment. I’m not in art school but from what I’ve heard from friends, it creates an environment of pitting others against each other and valuing students for spending absurdly long periods of time on their works. This manga tackles those aspects very well by creating clear villains out of the teachers and administrators who don’t value the students’ mental sanctity. However, we see a clear sense of community among students, while they may be pitted against each other often, they understand that they’re all in this together. Blue Period is a distinct manga with themes that blew me away. It isn’t due to end any time soon so please give it a read.

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