The following post is something that I originally pitched to Anime News Network along time ago. I don’t want to get too far into why I was a one and done person when it came to writing there. Let’s just say that I don’t plan on pitching any posts there anytime soon and I am in a place where I don’t have to do that anymore. It took me a long time to think about posting this and I feel like I am ready to finally do that. Please enjoy because it is a very personal one to me about how Blue Period and the connections it made to some parts of my own personal journey.
Art is hard. A very simple statement to make, but one that carries an inherent truth to that. Everything in human history is self made for human society and says so much about our culture. No one else is going to create the technology that humans are going to create and advance ourselves. Same with art. While various different societies across the world have grown and established themselves, so has the style and placement of art in those societies. Art isn’t just a by-product of society, society itself is the art that it creates from living around it. There would be no good placement of human society without the art that comes from it. A very important job.
So why is there competition for it? Human kind wants the best art there is for the best occasions and styles possible. While popularity is important, the best artists are wanted by a crowd to see it at its best to improve further on it here as well. From musicians to artists to actors, besides some scandals, there are always auditions to even make it from one field to another. Something which Blue Period captures a lot. As a series, it captures the tension of competition between artists trying to make it to one high profile job and the efforts to improve their ideas in order to make it to something. Even local artists and musicians who aren’t big have trials to face everyday.
The television edition of Blue Period aired in the Fall 2021 Anime Season and was streamed weekly on Netflix of all places. It is a series based on the award winning Seinen manga from Tsubasa Yamaguchi. A manga that started on June 24th, 2017 and is still running now. For real, it was nominated for the Mango Taisho Awards and Kodansha Manga Awards in 2019 and the 24th Tezuka Osamu Central Prize in 2020. Though in 2020, it did win the 13th Manga Taisho Award in 2020 and won the General Category Award for the 44th Kodansha Manga Awards. I do not know what the comparison is between the manga and the anime. All I know is that I enjoyed the anime quite a bit.
While Yatora is young and only trying to make it into Tokyo University of the Arts, his journey and the journey of others in the anime series Blue Period captured a lot of attention from me and other people who lean into the artistic field. I’ve had some discussions online about how much Blue Period got through the journey of artistic competition and have read some posts from other creators who talked about this journey as well. There is a certain stress involved in trying to get better in order to learn more about painting and make their way through a competition that makes it believable. At least it is to me and my journey through music that ended in failure.
Yatora’s Feasible Journey
Yatora Yaguchi is a young man who carried a large amount of cynicism with him. While it’s clear through some art books he’s had laying around that Yatora has always had a passion for art, he pushed that to the side. His family is not rich and he worked hard on his grades to be someone. Yet, art and painting was what called to him one day when he worked on an art piece for one of us his art classes awoke that interest in him again. What if he could do art? What if there was a way, even with his family’s modest budget? Tokyo University of the Arts. The toughest but most budget friendly non private journey for art in his general area.
What makes Yatora and other character’s journey as they face tension for their art through the art prep school. For instance, Yatora and other characters facing the tension of the others around them. Especially since he himself is not a genius and then seeing other geniuses next to him. Some come from amazing families who love art and have gotten into Tokyo University of the Arts no problem while others are just naturally great at art. Yuka-chan is in the process of discovering more about themselves that their parents don’t like while Kawuna has the prestige of her sisters to fight against for example. Blue Period has a great cast of characters who have their own problems even if they are so talented at art which adds a lot more tension into the mix as we get to know other characters.
Yet, this is Yatora’s journey. As speedy as the anime goes, we can still feel the journey he has in finding out his own style of art while also learning more about art itself. He comes from that point of view that art is just something that people are just good at before learning more. Especially the specifics of how colors can be mixed, the critiquing of art, so many techniques in it, and so many other things to the point where he discovered himself. This show wasn’t just Yatora’s discovery of art, but his personal growth expressed through that art. In the end, Yatora finally opened himself up to his own strengths and weaknesses to create a perfect art piece.
A main weakness I have towards his journey is that when Yatora says he is not a gifted person, Blue Period is paced out in a way that presents him as one anyway. Him learning about a concept and picking it up a little bit or even more towards the end of an episode while not having any follow up after it leads to that distinction. Not every gifted person instantly knows everything out of the gate. Sometimes it’s the manner of how fast a person can pick up something which shows how gifted a person is too. Gifted comes in multiple ways and while Yatora is playing as the protagonist of the show to carry us through his journey, I would still count him as gifted.
A Personal Journey
Whether Yatora is gifted or not, his journey throughBlue Period is still relatable to anyone who has tried to dive into art. No matter what part of art or piece of expression there is, all art competition scenarios are the same. As a person who wanted to be a musician when they were younger, the competition space is frightening. From Junior High onward, there is always the presence of other members; the instrumental section is a part of competing against anyone a person is playing with while also competing together as a band unit against other bands.
There is a constant difficulty in which I’ve known so many people left behind in the wake of that constant tension. Some left band in junior high to never return to it again while others in high school only played one year or even one semester before jumping ship. This isn’t even at a professional level where people practice and audition to make money. But music is a culture of people competing for top spots to earn money. A culture that is felt from Junior high just for instrumental placements to high school where more opportunities to honor bands and higher level solo and ensemble to college bands where placement is everything.
There is art and competition for it everywhere and it really can weigh down on a purpose who is not gifted. Especially when it means practicing for hours and hours on pieces on artistic skills and pieces of music that might amount to nothing when something is better. Imagine a younger me having that dream of becoming a musician one day. A dream that came crashing to an end after coming to a Jazz Band camp for the third year during high school where after I improved in the second year and got destroyed the next year. Hanging out with musicians who are far better than I am for an entire week. That was what led me to just playing for enjoyment then for employment. Something which always came about in some of Blue Period’s character journeys.
Bringing it Together
If Yatora is actually gifted, does that mean his experience is not genuine? Well no. There is still the reason why so many people that I know are connected with the artist’s journey of people who either did make it in an artistic field or failed out of it. Yatora competing against other people felt real because that tension of one artist to another going for the same thing means a lot. Especially when the experience of Blue Period’s tension is real because Yatora has to improve to have a chance of getting into Tokyo University of the Arts. The reprieve that Yatora felt when other characters were intimidated by his presence in an artist field feels good because he is the person that haunts other people’s artistic interests.
I feel like that is why mine and so many other people’s experiences failed. A lot of us probably never intimidated anyone besides people from two years before. There was always the journey of trying to catch up with other musicians who were also improving. Those who were always great, in the front, and kept getting better are probably those who found a professional way of living in their chosen artistic field. That doesn’t mean quitting. Some do, but there are always hobbies and connecting with people in groups of people who couldn’t make it either. The artistic journey is harsh and Blue Period captures that experience completely.
Gotta say your artist’s journey in terms of music, was not unlike my own. I’m still a bit bitter ( becoming more bittersweet as time passes) about how my Jr. High to High School transition was. Didn’t help there was a very obvious divide between the more dedicated crowd, and the more relaxed side.
That being said, I’m super curious about Blue Period all over again. My friend who does art on the side, absolutely loved it as well. I’m just a bit worried it might re-open some scars so to speak.
Really appreciate this more personal piece from you as well. It takes a lot of guts to post something like this online, so thank you for sharing it with us.
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There is just that real danger of watching a show that is really close to our personal experiences right? I don’t see a lot of shows like that, but when a well crafted show with that sort of journey and execution appears…the pain is going to be real.
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That’s the best way to put it. It’s a real danger to watch a show like that, but it’s incredibly alluring as well. All as you said, with the pain going to be very real.
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