A budding romance in the blue collar world.
Author/Artist: Saemi Yorita
Translation: Ken Wakita
What They Say
When Shouzo Mita left home, he thought it would be for good. Although he followed his father’s career path as a construction manager, Shouzo never wanted to enter the family business – that is, until dad got laid-up with an injury. Forced to return home and oversee his father’s company, Shouzo finds that a lot of things haven’t changed, but some things have. Nanami, a childhood acquaintance, has gone from being an awkward fatty to a sparkling pretty-boy straight out of a shojo manga. As an electrician contracted to work for Mita, Nanami’s simple, naive charm and healthy appetite manage to flip Shouzo’s switch. With the choice between remaining independent and accepting responsibility for his family even more complicated, what will Shouzo do?
Brilliant Blue is part of Digital Manga’s Doki Doki line and is presented in a vanilla format that’s completely serviceable. The paper quality is standard and the ink is solid and reproduced cleanly. The cover features Nanami with his arms around Shouzo with some clover framing them. The back of the cover features a color version of an out-of-context scene from one of the middle chapters of this volume and an extensive summary blurb.
The translation reads smoothly with no noticeable errors. The are a few translation notes located just outside of the panels in the borders. All the sound effects are translated, sometimes retouched but usually right next to the originals in a similar style font.
The artwork of this series is simple with thin airy lines and sparse backgrounds. The emphasis is on the characters more than anything else, with backgrounds being sparse with large areas of white space. The two leads are attractive without being overly pretty.
Shouzo is the model of the perfect son. He set out on his own to work away from home but returns when his father is in the hospital to run the family business in his absence. He even accommodates his mother’s requests to start looking into getting married. When he returns to his home town for his temporary position he inevitably runs into old classmates. One of whom is Nanami, who as a kid was fat and awkward, but it now thin and attractive.
Shouzo strikes up a friendship with Nanami, who seems quiet and distant when not around coworkers or food. When a business associate returns to town for a project, Nanami finds himself drawn back into a unwanted relationship with the man. Nanami’s brothers confide in Shouzo about Nanami’s past with Douwaki and their concern that the relationship is back on. Shouzo is concerned too, but perhaps for different reasons than the homophobic concerns of Nanami’s family.
Nanami is miserable stuck in an emotionally manipulative relationship with the married man. After every brief and none-explicitly drawn booty call, Nanami finds himself warding off guilt. Finally, Shouzo has enough of watching Nanami’s emotional torment and gives Nanami a way out of the relationship, while Douwaki gets to save some face. Douwaki, surprisingly, exits the story without conflict and any unpleasantness about the situation is left behind. Live and let live, even if the cheating businessman deserved some emotional distress of his own.
Nanami isn’t supposed to be the sharpest tool in the shed, but the levels the author takes with making him naive push past the point of cute and into creepy. Nanami’s lack of interpersonal skills is almost to the level of a learning disability. Even when the author tries to show that, yes, Nanami actually has some skills and knows what he’s talking about, it clashes sharply with his other behaviors.
Also, there’s a certain level of disbelief that Shouzo would be interested in a long term relationship with a clueless pretty boy. Eye candy is fun, but Shouzo must either be a saint or as selfish as Douwaki. Maybe both, but the author is clearly leaning toward the nice guy theory.
Now that Nanami’s attentions are turning toward Shouzo, the next volume will have to deal with the consequences of their developing relationship.
Brilliant Blue plays it safe, almost too safe. The focus on adults in a typical working world is almost enough to lend it an air of maturity that’s sometimes lacking in romance titles. Shouzo’s nice guy charm fends off any ho-hum boredom which might ensue from the setting. It’s nice to see the author trying to keep it real, until Nanami’s naivety trips the suspension of belief switch. When the author herself is questioning if the readers might be turned off by her “stupid uke,” that might be the give away that something isn’t right here. If your willing to look past that, there’s the foundation of a cute romance being laid out here in the first part of this story.