The title of Blue Period comes from a time in famed artist Pablo Picasso’s life where he painted in different shades of blue and blue-green as he dealt with depression. While we never see a Picasso painting, blue is present throughout the book. Besides the first few pages being colored in blue, the protagonist Yatora is constantly walking past posters advertising an art museum’s exhibit on the Blue Period. When Yatora gets into art, he paints with blue shades. Like Picasso, Yatora is also going through a life-changing period, for him it’s picking a career path. This sets the tone for an interesting look into art, and the emotional journey creatives of any medium face when they work on their passions.
Yatora is an interesting character; he hangs with the delinquent kids but is one of the smartest kids at school. With college planning approaching, Yatora plans on picking a good public university and a major that will lead to a well-paying job. He takes an art class for an easy-grade elective and does the bare minimum. When making a life decision it’s what’s practical, not fulfilling, that drives him.
Then one day, he enters the art classroom and sees a painting. It’s beautiful and feels so alive Yatora imagines the subject turning their head and winking at him. It inspires him to actually apply himself in art class assignments, and for the first time in his life, he feels passion and knows what it feels like to be proud of something he made. Now he has a new goal: get into the prestigious Tokyo Art Institute, which rejects the vast majority of its applicants. Can he develop his skills fast enough, and what about his friends and family that may not understand?
I identified with Yatora from one creative-minded person to another. I also was a guy who did well in school and got along with everyone, but I didn’t have anything that excited me. Even though I’m a writer and he’s an artist, I still struggled with questioning my abilities, comparing myself with other people who I believed were better than me, and if I could survive by doing what I loved. It’s working out for me so far, and it makes me root for Yatora to achieve his goals.
The manga clearly has a love for art, and it shows. The manga uses contributing artists for the character’s paintings. Their drawings are the work of a real artist, and I love seeing other people’s talents. It makes the series a collaborative project and shows that the author knows their stuff. This also shows up in mini-lessons about how to draw which, as a person who can only do stick figures, was engaging… for a while.
The manga is so interested in educating its audience, the lessons can sometimes feel too long. It can cause the story to lose focus on what kept me reading, the characters. While I certainly learned lots, it left me thinking, “When will we get back to Yatora’s emotional journey?” That said, it’s interesting to see how the author uses what they taught about perspective, shading, and texture, like a teacher showing their students examples. A quick note, I wish, so wish, this manga was in color. Color plays such a large role in the story it can be hard to see what the author is trying to convey when all you see is different shades of grey, as shown in the picture above.
The first volume of Blue Period is one of passion. It’s passionate for its protagonist and subject matter. What’s more, the author really knows their stuff. Put education and passion together and you get a very good result. I want to read the next volume and see how the series takes the next step to greatness.
Yatora is the perfect high school student, with good grades and lots of friends. It’s an effortless performance, and, ultimately…a dull one. But he wanders into the art room one day, and a lone painting captures his eye, awakening him to a kind of beauty he never knew. Compelled and consumed, he dives in headfirst—and he’s about to learn how savage and unforgiving art can be…Add to CartLearn More