Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Orphaned at age ten, Akihito Kuze finds himself not only the next Viscount Kuze, but also under the care of the capable but cold Tomoyuki Katsuragi. Katsuragi is determined to follow Akihito's father's instructions about how to raise his son to the letter, but all the scared little boy wants is someone to love. As Katsuragi flatly refuses to do this, the boy's anger grows, and as he ages it begins to mix with attraction. Will Akihito ever make Katsuragi look at him? And what will the consequences be if he doesn't?
Underneath it all, Blue Morning's first volume tells a sad story. It begins with the deaths of young Akihito Kuze's parents and his assumption of the viscountship as the sole heir, male or otherwise. Removed from the remote villa he inhabited with his delicate mother, ten-year-old Akihito is given into the care of Tomoyuki Katsuragi, a young man from a branch family who has apparently been raised to be a butler and groomed to raise the heir as the old master would have wished. This, it would seem, does not include showing any signs of affection to the boy, and we quickly see this have an effect on Akihito. He tries again and again to get some attention from Katsuragi, only to be rebuffed every time. One early incident looks like it might be done out of kindness, but as the story progresses, we see that it was more an attempt not to shame the family than out of any love for the child...and as we know, a lack of affection can cause problems for the child who grows up without it.
Part of the problem here is that Katsuragi is at this point a thoroughly unlikeable character. While he does have untold backstory that will likely help to make him more sympathetic – we do get a few hints towards the end of the volume – right now it is difficult to see him as other than a villain. This becomes problematic when the physical component of the characters' relationship kicks in towards the end of the book. Suffice it to say that it is not consensual, with Akihito taking by force that which has never been offered to him freely. That Katsuragi is presented as such a jerk makes it hard to read the story as romantic or much of anything beyond “sex scene.” Not that all such scenes need to have emotional components, but just a hint of sympathy or mutual attraction would have made this one much more enjoyable to read.
It is likely, however, that these are issues likely to go away as the series progresses. Four volumes and counting, Blue Morning has plenty of time to show Katsuragi's evolution as a character, and one hopes that he will turn into someone worth our time and emotions. At this point Akihito's lower-class friend Soichiro feels like he would make a better romantic interest, although that would probably be a totally different story. Akihito himself is a sympathetic character, and we can really feel for the lonely child who grows into a seriously troubled teen. He is determined, and if he doesn't always channel that energy in the right direction, well, at least he's not lolling around feeling sorry for himself.
Shoko Hidaka's taking her time with this story, which she tells us is both her first multi-volume tale and her first period piece. The story is set sometime in the late 19th century, and Hidaka does a very nice job of depicting the slow encroachment of Western culture in terms of dress (in the small villa, Akihito wears traditional clothing while at the mansion he wears Western garb), housing, and modes of transportation. Male uniform aficionados should appreciate the very military uniforms that the boys wear to school, as well as the subtle changes between grades. We can see time passing in the length of the men's hairstyles, which is a nice touch. In general her style retains the delicacy of form typical of much yaoi, and her use of tones and facial expressions really work for both her art and the story.
As it continues, Blue Morning has the potential to really develop into an involving, interesting story with some weighty emotional ground. If Katsuragi grows as a character into someone we can like or at least sympathize with, then this story could go places. As it stands, Blue Morning has potential but with such an unsympathetic romantic interest and a sex scene that doesn't do much for the hero's case either, it is unlikely that this will appeal to everyone or to fujoshi/fudanshi who prefer their yaoi romantic. It seems likely that this will morph into a tale of wounded souls, however, so it may be worth sticking around and seeing if it can get there.
Overall : B-
Story : B-
Art : B+
+ Has real potential to go interesting places, good job with the place/time setting. Akihito's actions all make sense.
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