The anime I fall in love with, like any show, are the ones that resonate. And right now, as I fight off burn-out, the new Netflix anime series Blue Period hits as hard as something possibly can. Based on the Kodansha Manga published series of the same name by mangaka Tsubasa Yamaguchi. Having won the 2020 Manga Taisho Grand Prize, an annual Japanese manga award given to outstanding series under eight volumes, the bar was set high for the anime adaptation produced by Seven Arcs (TONIKAWA: Over the Moon For You, Sekirei). If you haven’t heard about it, Blue Period is a very direct look at the struggles and rewards of a life dedicated to art, or anything really. Blue Period Episode 1 — “Awakening to the Joy of Painting” hits the ground running for the series.
When popular guy Yatora realizes he’s just going through the motions to make other people happy and finds himself pushed to a new passion: painting. For all intents and purposes, Yatora is the perfect high school student. He has good grades, lots of friends, and he’s good at sports. For lack of a better description, if this were a romance shojo he would be the guy the lead girl pines over but doesn’t think she’s good enough for. But quickly, we learn that this effortless performance that Yatora puts on is just that, a performance. With all of his existing hobbies and talents proving hollow, he becomes bored and apathy begins to set in until he sees a lone painting.
There is a somberness that cuts into every scene and the breathtaking animation with a blend of anime and European art styles is just as jaw-dropping in anime as it is in the manga. As the characters begin to assemble, the voice acting drives a lot of the characterizations as much as the dialogue does. There is enough to grip onto in Blue Period Episode 1 without feeling like you’ve seen everything there is to see. And from animation style to adaptation this hits it.
Additionally, the first meeting between our leads Yatora and Ryuji is perfect and somehow even better than the manga. Ryuji sees right through Yatora which pulls anger out of him. But for the first time in the episode, it’s clear that he feels something, even if he doesn’t know what it is and as much as it’s because of her, it’s spurred by her painting. At perfect pacing we get to see Yatora adapt to the art club, draw, and see even more emotion pour out of him, even it’s a trickle. Additionally, we get to see his moment of apathy peak through as he’s forced to go back into the world outside the art room.
In its first episode, Blue Period is very close to the first volume of the manga, and immediately it becomes a stunning story that will capture people like me. The hollow people who are good at things, who work hard, and are feeling an emptiness. I’m not gonna lie, I’m reviewing this series because it’s one of the most anticipated anime of the season and one of the very few show Netflix is releasing weekly. It needed to be covered. And while my love of manga is strong, this wasn’t supposed to happen. But I’m good at reviewing, I’m good at writing, and I need to be responsible and make sure it’s covered. And yet, after the credits rolled on Blue Period Episode 1, I felt like I needed to review it. I need Blue Period, and I hope others who need it, find it too. I’m burned out. So is Yatora. And I hope to find my passion again as he does.
Blue Period Episode 1 — "Awakening to the Joy of Painting"
- Rating - 10/1010/10
In its first episode, Blue Period is very close to the first volume of the manga, and immediately it becomes a stunning story that will capture people like me. The hollow people who are good at things, who work hard, and are feeling an emptiness.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.