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Manga / Blue Period

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Blue Period is a coming-of-age Seinen 2017 manga by Tsubasa Yamaguchi, serialized in the magazine Afternoon.

The manga follows Yatora Yaguchi, a hard-working student with the appearance of a delinquent and no particular drive for anything in life. He comes across the oil painting of a senpai, which totally enraptures him, and leads him to learn the joys of drawing and art, leading him to decide to make art for a living and prepare to try and tackle an extremely hard public university, facing his more talented peers and the disapproval of his mother for this decision.

The manga got an anime adaptation in October of 2021 by Seven Arcs, and was streamed weekly on Netflix.


  • Alliterative Name:
    • Yatora Yaguchi
    • Haruka Hashida
    • Maru Mori
  • Animal Motif: Professor Nekoyashiki is motifed after cats. She always wear a headband that makes it seems she has cartoony cat ears and her name contains the Japanese word for "cat" ("neko").
    • Professor Tsukinoki is based on a snake, evident from the design of their eyes and a handful of notes from his omake strip on the TAU professors.
  • Bi-Wildered: Ryuuji bears a lot of torment regarding their sexuality (and gender identity), at first outwardly presenting as a gay crossdresser, but later admitting to having romantic feelings for a girl they were friends with in middle school. Ryuuji clearly believes others would naturally be surprised to hear such a thing from someone like him, and laments how things would be simpler if they were just attracted to men.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Yatora is one of the least eccentric people he's seen making art, seeing that Geidai is full of strong, unique personalities. Murai Yakumo takes the cake being extremelly talented in the same step he's extremelly eccentric, like being naked under his overalls and changing clothes in public, being obsessed with strength, and being so broke he crashes on his friends place and saves money by fishing on the city.
  • Central Theme:
    • The joys and challenges of art.
    • Expressing yourself and your worldview truthfully through art.
    • According to Yamaguchi's own words, she wanted to make a manga about "working hard".
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Chapter 37 seems some men working on the contruction of Professor Nekoyashiki commenting how Ono Konatsu, another artist spotted on a poster, seems much superior to her. The end of the chapter reveals that she was invited as a guest lecturer for the first-years final project.
  • Clark Kent Outfit: The director of Geidai seems to be a plump old man at first glance, but during his presentation speech, he takes off his shirt to show he is very strong and sturdy underneath it all and showcases his skill in calligraphy live to the students, which surprises everyone.
  • Color Motif: Blue. The manga's name is taken from a period in Picasso's painting where he used a lot of blue, and while the manga is black and white, colored pages are usually made with a generous helping of blue, and Yatora's first piece is a blue view of the city. The color blue is often referred to in the manga itself.
  • Coming of Age Story: The story focuses on the end of high school/start of college in Yatora's life, how he grows up, learns about art, and about himself in the process.
  • Discussed Trope: Central Theme. Yatora learns that one of the main skills he has to learn is that of conveying a theme through the medium of painting.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Ryuuji is a crossdressing boy, partly due to the fact he believes himself to be cute. He also thinks that since he already looks feminine he might as well lean into it to get attention of men.
  • Fan Disservice: Downplayed. While some characters get nude very visibly during the manga's story, it's rarely ever with the intention of fanservice. Like any nude drawing, it's not meant to entice, but rather, to learn and see the human figure.
    • One scene has Ryuuji and Yatora getting naked to draw nude self-portraits. While they both look good and there are some shots of their bodies, there's very little in the way of the sexualization of these characters, especially with Yatora pointing out the ways his body is unattractive like his lack of definition and his bad skin texture, describing himself like an eraser. The nudity is much more symbolic of their vulnerability and understanding themselves rather than eye candy.
    • The nude model that appears during the second exam is a good-looking woman that spends most of her on-screen time naked, but she's never sexualized, as Yatora comes to think of nakedness as being somewhat pathetic. The anime adaptation depicts her with Barbie Doll Anatomy
  • Exact Words: Hanakage says she is a first-year in Geidai, which Yatora assumes means she is a freshman like them. She didn't lie saying she was a first-year, they were the ones to assume she was a freshman when she is actually in the first year of her doctorate and is an assistant teacher. She didn't correct them because she thought it was funny.
  • Expository Pronoun: A sign of Ryuuji's fluctuation in gender identity comes when he suddenly starts using the very feminine personal pronoun 'atashi' instead of the masculine 'ore', which they primarily used before. It's implied that this is in part to Ryuuji believing life would be easier for them if they just identified as a woman. Later they're heard switching back and forth between the two, so where their actual identity stands is unclear.
  • First-Name Basis: Yatora is addressed by his first name by his group of three friends, Yuka, and Hashida. On the other hand, he calls Yotasuke by his first name and Yuka by their birth name Ryuuji. While Ryuuji showed annoyance at being called this on their first appearance, later on, they don't seem to mind anymore (perhaps not if Yatora is the one calling them so).
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Yatora has extremely low self-esteem and spends most of his inner monologues while he's working putting himself down.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Yatora is a skilled, hard-working artist with many people respecting him, but his knees would turn into jelly in Mori-senpai's presence.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Hashida Haruka has very long hair that he ties into equally long pigtails. Zig-zagged with Yuka/Ryuuji, who is considered this by most people due to being biologically male, but how they identify is still unclear.
  • Motif: The use of motifs in-universe is talked about recurringly, some characters have their motifs more clearly visible than others. Mori, for example, sees art as a form of prayer, so her paintings usually have some religious or heavenly motifs to them. Her introductory painting is one of two angels, her second one is a drawing of the Greek goddess Nike, and later she is shown to have expanded her repertory by making a painting of multiple hands in Buddhist prayers.
  • Mysterious Past: Mrs. Saeki, the teacher of the Art Club of Yatora's high school is considered a rather mysterious person, and little is known about her past. When Ryuuji and Yatora poke at her about that, she plays a game telling them 4 things about herself and telling one of them is a lie, but all of them are so outlandish that it's hard to tell.
  • Out of Focus:
    • Ryuuji, midway to the period before the Geidai first exam, leaves the manga for a large part, as he is having a breakdown regarding art, and is no longer in Ryuuji's class, as he won't be trying for the Oil painting course. After reappearing briefly, he is out of focus again when Yatora gets into Geidai, since Ryuuji seems to now want to focus on fashion.
    • Hashida Haruka was a recurring character when the story was focused on the cram school with characters getting ready for the Geidai exam. Since he goes to a different college, having failed the Geidai exam, his appearances are much reduced. Since he also doesn't appear in the cram school anymore, he no longer features in Kuwana's storyline there either. He does return briefly to work alongside Yatora in Saeki sensei's art school.
    • Maki Kuwana is similarly another character introduced rather prominently during Yatora's time in Cram School. She fails the entrance exam for Geidai so naturally she gets phased out of the story. She does manage to pass the exam the following year but opts to pursue the sculpture track rather than Oil-Painting like Yatora, so she doesn't play a prominent role going forward.
  • Tears of Joy: During the second Geidai exam, Yatora cries these when Yotasuke says that he got a lot better when he wasn't looking and that he noticed his theme about "nakedness as true self".
  • Technician vs. Performer: Yatora is the technician to almost everyone's performer. While he is capable of deepening his learning very easily once he is pointed in a direction and is an extremely hard-working man, he lacks a certain degree of passion and capacity to have fun with art as his peers do, which makes his art feel shallow for a good part of the early manga.
  • Self-Harm: An unwitting example. Yatora's stress comes across as a breakout in his arm. The night before the Geidai exam, his breakout is so bad, he scratches it until he draws blood.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The chapter 12 cover portrays Yatora as "The Desperate Man", by Gustave Courbet.
    • The chapter 13 cover makes a reference to the painting "The Bachelor Party", by Louis Wain.
    • Chapter 38 has Hachiro posing as the Mona Lisa.
    • The chapter dealing with the TAU students learning how to create mosaics and frescoes has Yatora depicted in a manner akin to the infamous 'Monkey Christ' restoration of "Ecce Homo" by Elías García Martínez.
  • Social Circle Filler: Subverted. Yatora's initial group of friends seem to be this, but even after his interest in art is ignited and he starts hanging out with the other major characters, he is still their friend and often hangs out with them when not doing art-related things. In Koi's case, he even points out that seeing Yatora work so hard to follow his dream inspired him to do the same and had applied to patisserie school.
  • Starving Artist: As it's pointed out, there are many challenges in making a living as a full-time artist, especially in Japan. Yatora's father is supportive of his passion, but his mother is worried about his financial situation.
  • Stepford Smiler:
    • Yatora. From the outside, he appears to be an upbeat and carefree person, but he is actually extremely nervous about his upcoming entrance exam and his capacity to do art. A perfect example is that the night before the Geidai exam, his mother is nervous about the fact that Yatora looks too carefree, even though his skin breaks so hard from the stress he hurts himself from scratch.
    • Professor Nekoyashiki is a very cheery and upbeat person, but it's hinted she's constantly under a lot of stress, both from her work and the occasional sexist comments she suffers being the only woman in Geidai's faculty. She also has a tendency to be unexpectedly blunt and cutting, especially when trying to nudge Yotasuke toward what the TAU faculty expect of him. Her character is essentially summed up when her installation art is revealed - she decorates buildings in a manner akin to elaborate gift wrapping, but later states she considers gift wrapping to be one of the greatest lies of all, suggesting the same applies to her own cute exterior.
    • Ryuuji also comes across as this once you learn about their homelife; their parents treat them like trash and openly abuse them. The only filter on their parents' actions being that they're living under the grandmother of the family's roof, who absolutely dotes on Ryuuji, encouraging their artistic skill and rescuing their art supplies when their parents tried to throw them out.
      • Although it's worth noting that their grandmother's doting nature has - in some ways made things even more difficult for Ryuji; Ryuji would prefer to focus on illustration and western-style fashion design, but pursues Nihonga because of her grandmother's background and appreciation for it.
    • Hashida is implied to be this at points; working alongside Yatora at Saeki sensei's art school has him eventually reveal his frustrations with feeling he's simply not good at making art as he is at observing it and understanding artistic history. His witnessing a young student break down when she can't juggle all her extra-curricular activities and no longer feels any good at painting also has a massive effect on him, so much so he borderline violently grabs the girl's father by the arm when he proposes splitting a collaboration between Hashida and his daughter - albeit by ripping it down the middle.
  • Wham Line:"What's the point in that as a painting?" from Professor Tsukinoki early in Yatora's career at TUA/Geidai absolutely floors him, cutting his legs from under him and plaguing him for the remainder of the year, while unhelpfully coming across as oddly flippant and weirdly aloof. It's later clarified that he's questioning why Yatora feels his current piece - an examination of Shibuya and its history - requires the medium of oil painting, suggesting he's trying to prompt Yatora to explore a different material or techniques, but this was lost in his bluntness.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Ryuuji is a biologically male person that crossdresses and is often shown to wear skirts. While they have quite the jerkass streak in their personality, they are ultimately a pretty nice person.