Blue Period
Episode 1-2

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Blue Period ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
Blue Period ?

Every so often, someone will wonder aloud how, out of my two younger sisters and I, only one of us majored in something “practical.” Never mind that English and game design aren't precisely useless fields of study; to a certain subset of people, anything that smacks at all of creativity is not a useful or worthwhile thing to go to college for. If this has ever happened to you, or sounds like a conversation/argument you've had with your parents, there will be something at least a little familiar about Blue Period's first two episodes, because that's the struggle that high school second year Yatora faces as the series opens: he becomes interested in art, finds a love for it, and has to convince people that he's not throwing away his talent, education, and intelligence by wanting to go to art school.

Not that Yatora follows the usual path to reach this point; prior to discovering art, he's just sort of piddling his life away. He's smart, he cares about his grades (or at least his mother does), but he's only coasting through life, hanging out with his delinquent friends and going along with what they want to do rather than finding anything of his own. He's not precisely unhappy, but I wouldn't call him satisfied with things either. That all changes when he learns a different way of seeing – an upperclassman's oil painting of an angel combines with a new understanding of color to make Yatora realize that art might be something he can really care about, something he wants to do rather than just going along with others. Whether you see the way he wholeheartedly jumps into the field as a mark of his enthusiasm, his crush on Mori-senpai, or just indicative of how he acts when he's actively interested in something (or, perhaps, a rushed manga adaptation) is largely a matter of perspective, but it's hard to deny that once he gets bitten by the art bug, he's been bitten hard.

Of course, no one can become a master artist overnight, and episode two moves at a significantly slower pace than episode one. Yatora joins the art club, learns techniques, draws still lives…it's not particularly thrilling. It is important, however, because he's not only learning how to best bring out his talent and create better pieces, he's also being forced to show that he's serious about this. If he thought art would just be a quick and fun path to glory, the events of this episode would have driven him back to the way he used to be. That they instead cement his desire to go to art school and bring him to the point where he needs to convince his mother of how badly he wants this is a clear marker of his determination and burgeoning love for fine art.

Fortunately for us, Yatora drawing and painting isn't the sole and exclusive focus of the show. His relationships with two classmates and his mother are also important components, and all three are interesting characters in and of themselves. While Mori is largely relegated to “cute older student,” she is still someone who comes to believe in Yatora and values his interest in art, which is something that he very much needs at this stage of his journey; his mother, on the other hand, can be broadly painted as the person in opposition to that, not able or willing to understand what her son wants to do. The other classmate, Yuka, is a bit more nebulous, but they stand to be the most important person for Yatora right now. When we first meet them, we see Yatora taking out his frustrations with his life by deadnaming Yuka; although he never apologizes for that, through his interactions with them he does realize that Yuka's a person who deserves to be treated better and who has valuable things to say. There is an implication that Yatora's known Yuka for a long time, but that doesn't excuse the deadnaming because it's clear that he knows better – it may have been Yatora expressing jealousy in the meanest way he could, because Yuka is very clear in who they are and what they want. By the end of episode two, we can see that they're likely to be Yatora's closest companion from school as both of them enroll in art cram school, and watching Yatora learn about people as well as art stands to be another rewarding aspect of the show.

This isn't likely to be a fast-paced series, the art equivalent of something like Food Wars. But it does look like a journey that will be worth taking as Yatora discovers himself and others through the medium(s) of art, along with that most terrible of realizations that comes to everyone in creative fields: no matter how good you are, there will always be someone in another venue who you think is better.

Rating:

Blue Period is currently streaming on Netflix.


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