Blue Vol. #1 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A+

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: All
  • Released By: Fanfare
  • MSRP: 23.99
  • Pages: 232
  • ISBN: 84-93340-9-7-9
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Blue Vol. #1

By Jarred Pine     May 01, 2006
Release Date: March 15, 2006

Blue Vol.#1
© Fanfare

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Kiriko Nananan
Translated by:Elizabeth Tiernan and Shizuka Shimoyama
Adapted by:

What They Say
Kayako Kirishima and Masami EndÃ' are about to discover that their recent friendship is turning into obsessive love. But when today's hopes and yesterday's dreams meet tomorrow's problems, will they be able to continue? With clear outline and confused feelings, Kiriko Nananan demonstrates that it is possible to make a Blue manga from black and white.

The Review
Kiriko Nananan's Blue is one of the more simple yet emotionally profound manga I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Fanfare once again strikes gold with their "Nouvelle Manga".

Fanfare definitely knows how to release some nice looking books. This one takes a much more minimalistic approach that is quite appropriate for this title. The cover is a solid, deep blue with a sketch of Kirishima that is quite delicate. As with their other releases there are book flaps. The print reproduction looks fantastic, printed on a heavy, shiny white paper that I thought really served Nananan's artwork very well. There's quite the contrast between the dark black tones and the empty white space, which is highlighted with this printing. The only extra is a creator bio on the last page of the book.

Nananan's artwork is a very simple and very much a minimalistic style that feels so delicate and soft. You'll immediately notice that there is quite a bit of white space, which is contrasted heavily by the dark black tones in the hair and clothing. The simple, almost non-existent backgrounds mixed with the great frontal and profile panels really help with the overall melancholy mood.

Panel compositions are understated but emotionally powerful at times; for example, a longing stare followed by a framed shot of a hand gently gracing over another, with a stroke of a few strands of hair. There are a few sequences here that just speak volumes without many words. This is a style that is very much more associated with European artwork rather than your average manga material.

There are no SFX, so no worries about the translation there. The English script is solid, with a couple oddities in the wording and one minor grammar error that I noticed. The tone is dead on though, matching the artwork perfectly and creating quite the emotional impact.

Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
High school romances are a dime a dozen in manga, but very few have come even close to having the emotional impact that Kiriko Nananan's Blue had on me. It's simple and poetic; an honest and realistic portrayal of two high school girls' relationship with each other. Nananan masters a graceful love story, without being over-sexualized or made into fanservice material, all within the 230 pages of this one-shot originally published by Mag Comics.

Masami Endo has become the outcast of her class, suspended last year for getting pregnant and having an abortion. She smokes and her parents let her get away with almost anything just so they can avoid any conflict. Her grades are low and her future is not looking too bright. She is alone with a lot of baggage from her past, baggage that will cause complications later on.

Kayako Kirishima is the quiet, shy girl in class who has friends but still keeps herself at arms' distance. She gets good grades, has a future in Tokyo for design school, and has strict parents that possibly keep her a little sheltered. At first, Kayako looks at Masami with great adulation, a wild at heart peer who seems to be living her life. One day she asks Masami to lunch, which is the beginning of their awkward, yet loving relationship together.

Being a one-shot, the pace is fairly quick but I never once felt like I was being pulled along with the story. The pacing is always fairly relaxed and serene. I am an innocent bystander peeking in on these two girls' intimate conversations. What begins as casual girl talk turns into a caress of the hand or rubbing of the fingers through the other's hair, finally progressing to a kiss. While the two do have sleepovers with each other, how far their relationship is taken is left up to the imaginations of the reader. Their relationship is awkward yet completely genuine.

However, as with most romances during this youthful age, complications arise. There is a great deal of baggage from Masami's past that drives like a stake between the two. Kirishima also does not have the highest self-esteem, as she is prone to fits of jealousy and distrust. Everyone is also preparing for graduation and moving on to that next phase in their lives. I think for many reading this that did move on to college, or had friends do so, understand that many times you lose contact with these people as you mature and further grow. It is a painful time period, one that ultimately for some can be represented by the color "Blue".

So there I was a big seinen-loving, shounen champion manga reader, sitting at the back of the bus on my way home from work with tears streaming down my eyes. There have not been many books at all that have touched me as deeply as Kiriko Nananan's Blue. The fact that she accomplished this in a one-shot makes this even more astonishing to me.

As I said earlier, the high school romance story has been done many times over, but I am unable to recall any that have had this level of poetic grace and honesty in it. The story and the artwork are very simple, but the emotions and complications her characters experience are as complex as they come. One of the more touching stories I have experienced, and Nananan does an excellent job at getting me to care about her two lead females. There is a good deal of pathos and the melancholy here which work quite well with each other.

Ultimately, given the high price, European style artwork, and lack of fanservice that usually permeates the girl-girl shounen material that fanboys fiend over, this will probably end up an eclectic title for those who are willing to spend that extra bit of cash for something different. Fanfare did a nice job with this title and once again they have me itching for more of these "Nouvelle" manga titles. Blue is a true gem on my shelf of countless manga.


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