Oh man, it’s been a bit of a time since I’ve written anything about manga besides some quick first impressions. I meant to write about manga sooner then this, but not everything ever goes as planned. There is so much to cover in a short amount of time and I don’t want to be blogging into infinity. Especially since things that I like keep coming out for one reason or another and is only so much time. It doesn’t help when they are all things I want to check out. It’s rather mean to have all the things I like actually appear in front of me in a very quick manner. That is how I finished Blue Flag a few months ago at this point and I am finally getting to it now. So, this week is just a quick catch up on some of the manga that I wanted to write about but couldn’t. Here is Blue Flag, but this is not the only manga that I finished and enjoyed at this point. Be prepared for good stuff.
One of the most relatable things in real life that can be depicted in fiction is drifting apart from childhood friends. Especially as you grow up and meet new people and leave the older friends behind. A part of Blue Flag’s story is capturing a friendship that was long lost between two childhood friends and seeing it trying to be forged together again at the end of high school. Those long-lost feelings that golden boy Touma and unsure Taichi had during their playing together at a younger age comes in a bit more complicated. Blue is also a story of awkward romances and feelings. Futabe Kuze starts out the manga with a crush on Touma and she tries to get to know him through Taichi. There is a lot of complicated feelings going on combined with the pressure of what happens after high school and it’s a big mess. A big relatable mess that really captures all of these things pretty well.
I don’t know what it is, but KAITO did a fantastic job of exploring all sorts of things that teenagers feel at this time period through the complicated love triangle of Touma, Taichi, and Futabe. As in, Touma likes Taichi, Taichi likes Futabe, and Futabe likes Touma. Plus some other characters like Masumi who clearly has a crush on Futabe and can be considered apart of this group, but she doesn’t appear as often as others. I mean she is best girl and can take scenes just by appearing. Plus that is not to mention the many nameless characters in the story or bigger figures in each character’s life that influence them or push them away. It’s a manga with a lot of multi dimensional characters that you can tell something is going on in each of their heads in the background. Some more obvious then others. There is no real story in Blue Flag, just a metaphorical clock ticking and creating more pressure for their lives.
That multi dimensional characters and awkwardness is why Blue Flag is so great to me. While I seem to have gotten into some rom com kind of manga and anime recently, they don’t feel at complex or as thoughtful as Blue Flag. I think it’s KAITO’s writing that has to do with it. It’s partially because its genuine feelings with experiencing things that was going on. The other side is that there are adult characters that cut right through the BS teenager defenses and flags which leads to them getting to the heart of the matter. Those adults in this manga mainly being Touma’s adult brother and wife who keep an eye on all people to check if they are doing ok. There is some stubbornness that our high school characters have to let go of and eventually do. Like I said, high school kids. Very relatable in that sort of way here.
Bringing it all together in some way, this is a manga about couples connecting with each other to figure out if they work together. The biggest non surprise is that not all of them work. Two nervous people who are unsure about their relationship come across as stiff and very breakable as you would expect it to. Or when characters are confessed to in a way that re-evaluates their entire lives up to that point, it breaks them for a while. Then there are cases where characters withhold their thoughts or love for certain characters for a while and eventually just move on from there. The will they or won’t they drama is not the only type of romance out there and you can see that here. You can say that there is some decent representation besides the normal hetero normative relationships here, but it is very much toned down for the SJ+ audience. At least, that is why I think it is so watered down. The greatest flaw of this very good but messy manga.
Ok, enough drama. Blue Flag is a very funny manga too. Where there is drama, there is also a lot of comedy. A lot of very good situational comedy that I really enjoy in a way that connects the characters better. There is a fun sort of dryness and naturalness to each comedic moment. All very well interspersed through out the drama in ways that can calm down the heart of those reading it. I like the use of facial expressions in great moments like stink faces or other things. They are always very good character appropriate moments that shows the connections between characters. It could be like “you can see how pathetic this character is” or “only a sibling would give that sort of good face” and things to all of this. The comedy does disappear as times goes on, but that is the way of things sometimes.
The paneling and art in Blue Flag is very emotional and experimentally special. Especially since one chapter of this manga looks and flows so differently from almost every chapter in the manga. I think that is incredible considering the chaos around all of these attributes here. If there is a manga that explores all sorts of ways to convey thought and emotions for a new mangaka to learn from, Blue Flag might be it. There is a great use of white space to convey loneliness or great uses of montage or flow of panels to convey scenes and emotions without having to tell the reader specifically. There is just a lot of good and creative things that play with sequential story telling in that way. That is why I really like this manga and I think you would all enjoy it if you tried it. Very high level of quality here. Blue Flag is a solid manga that everyone should read at some point.