It’s time to look at our first anime of the Fall 2021 anime season in this Blue Period Review! How well did this highly anticipated adaptation of the beloved Manga property do in the medium of anime? Let’s get right to it and find out!
Blue Period Overview
Blue Period was a slice of life drama anime brought to our screens by anime studio Seven Arcs, known for its slice of life and comedy shows such as Dog Days and Tonikaku Kawaii. The series was based upon a highly acclaimed manga penned by Tsubasa Yamaguchi. It was one of the most anticipated shows of the Fall 2021 season and an adaptation that had been highly waited upon for four years.
Koji Masunari and Katsuya Asano directed the show, with Masunari serving as the chief director. He is a veteran of the industry, having been around for more than two decades and directing shows like Kamichu and Magi: The Kingdom of Magic. Katsuya Asano is known for directing episodes of Yu-Gi-Oh Vrains, among other things. You can read our review of the ninth episode here!
Please note that while the series has finished airing in Japan, there are only nine episodes of the show available to watch right now on the international version of Netflix. Since our episodic reviews of the show follow the international Netflix releases, the episodic reviews of Blue Period will continue for three more weeks. Rest assured, this author has watched the series in its entirety before writing this review. If you wish to do the same, you can use a VPN or some creativity! Netflix release schedules are weird.
– Blue Period Review does not contain spoilers –
Blue Period Review- The Plot
When this show is taken at value, one sees a lot of extremely common anime tropes- It is set in a high school with a popular and highly intelligent protagonist who is good at everything he lays his hands upon. He then proceeds to be immediately good at the subject of the entire anime, which is art. He decides to enrol in a university that only the most elite students get to attend. With this description, the show is made to look like the most generic and soulless of high school dramas that we sometimes get.
However, when given a chance, Blue Period is a much deeper and more cerebral experience than all of those anime combined. The word that describes this show the best is “relatable”, for a variety of reasons. It focuses on the other side of the school system- far away from the popular and highly contested sports and engineering. It is about how one can make a career in the arts and how art is just as, if not more, difficult than all the other career paths.
We get to learn a lot about what art students learn while trying to enrol in a college, in a manner that people that don’t know anything about the medium can also grasp the basics. We learn about dessin, composition, and colour theory. Still, most of all, we learn how to be our true selves even while portraying different versions of ourselves in front of others. Self-discovery was a major part of the show, and it gave gravitas to the somewhat flimsy narrative.
Another reason why Blue Period manages to be a highly relatable show is that it tackles the mental health issues in a manner no show has before. The “gifted kid” syndrome, imposter syndrome, identity crises, and gender dysphoria are the major focuses on the show, and it handles them with a lot of sensitivity and care. The plot is consistent and well written for the show’s entirety, with many emotional high points and twists and turns. It also ends very well, in a manner that feels satisfying and ends an arc of the show beautifully while still leaving enough material for a Blue Period Season 2, if it happens.
However, the one thing that brings the show’s plot down is the horrible pacing during the show’s first half. The show moves at a frightening pace from plot point to plot point without allowing any moment to breathe or settle in. Months go by within minutes, while we are told things changed without being shown said things. It also causes some characters to remain underdeveloped and some interactions to feel unnecessary. Thankfully, this is fixed for the second half, and the show assumes a consistent and steady pace after that, but the pacing dampened the quality of most of the initial episodes.
Blue Period Review- The Characters
Blue Period plays a host to various extremely well-written characters with great arcs that get executed with precision and perfection. The most obvious of them is Yatora Yaguchi, the main character who has dealt with being called talented and gifted all his life despite working as hard as anyone else for every one of his skills. His story is relatable, and he is a great protagonist for a show such as this, which is about the human psyche as much as art.
There are a ton of fantastic supporting characters as well, including the person who gets the most screentime other than Yatora, Ryuuji. Ryuuji (or Yuka, as they are sometimes called) is a complicated character who deserves an article on their own. Their struggle with gender dysphoria and need to be respected as who they are is a phenomenal story told with a lot of respect by the show.
Blue Period also has the best teacher character on our screens since Koro-Sensei in Ms Ooba. She is warm, caring, smart, and wants the best for her students in a way that comes across as genuine and loving. Everyone deserves an Ooba Sensei to help us grow. The other side characters, including Mori, Hashida, Kuwana, and Yotasuke, are also very distinct and have a ton of personality. Yatora has great interactions with almost everyone in the show, which is a highlight of this season.
Blue Period Review- Art and Music
In a show based on and full of art, one would think that animation would be a top priority and a natural highlight of the show. If one thought that, one would be wrong. The animation is the worst part of Blue Period by far, but not because it is bad. By most definitions, the animation is quite good. However, it doesn’t feel befitting of a show such as this because it is very plain and two dimensional, coming across as flat in a show which calls upon the most vivid of arts.
The colours are great, the character design is fabulous, and the lighting and angles are strong. What feels off is whenever any artwork is on screen, it seems to be in an entirely different dimension from the rest of the show. Not understanding an artwork and its qualities is one thing; not getting why it is portrayed so weirdly is entirely another. For art dunces like this writer, understanding a lot of what made an artwork good or bad in the show was a sometimes impossible task, but it would be unfair to attribute that to the show.
The music of Blue Period, on the other hand, was brilliant. The opening and ending themes were tremendous pieces of music that included some creative choices in the form of Jazz, which separated them from the flock and made them great to listen to. The OSTs were also grandiose and melancholy at the perfect moments, as the show managed to capture the tension of an exam alongside the feeling of being alone perfectly. Who would have thought that a show about art would have music be better than animation?
Blue Period was a highly relatable, emotional, and captivating experience that was slightly marred by its flat animation and hurried pacing. While it wasn’t able to hit the lofty heights of the source material, it was a faithful adaptation with a lot going for it, including a great story, awesome characters, and a fantastic soundtrack.
Read our episodic reviews of Blue Period here! They’ll be getting updates for at least three weeks after this review goes up.Follow us on Instagram & Facebook to keep yourself updated with the latest news and reviews.