Blue Period Volume 14: Summer Break



Forget the art, forget the wait, everyone knows what to have expected from Blue Period volume 14, but all the same Tsubasa Yamaguchi has continued to excel in a manner that you associate with the greats of the marriage of literature and the visual experience of manga. Only difference is, those greats tend to gravitate towards shorter works, meanwhile Yamaguchi is wielding 14 volumes of development and drama.

And it shows. It’s one of those things where it feels entirely fruitless to explain or discuss the work in a monologue, but at the same time goads you into attempting it. It mocks you for your aversion and fear, daring you to step into its world and express that experience. And in the end, you walk away with a feeling that no matter what you’ll say, it’ll never be enough, but all the same you have to say it.

It’s the sort of endless frustration that stems from admiration, much like Yakumo’s relationship with Sanada in this volume. The characters really feel so human, and I think Yakumo’s backstory that eats up the majority of this volume is the pinnacle of that experience. A hot-headed, hot blooded kid driven to success. Trauma and challenges surrounding women, safety, and romantic feelings. Frustration and creation, destruction and preservation. It’s a spider-web of challenges that Yakumo sorts through with art, though ultimately remains snugly stuck against Sanada’s back, forever stuck chasing a ghost.

To that end, Yatora really has become a rock in Yakumo’s life, offering him a look in the mirror at his self and the struggles that faced him. It’s just that Yatora has had a different life, and because of that is able to approach things in a different light. It’s all so… full, that I really struggle to find a way to succinctly explain the ideas. For example, Yatora’s meant to look like a mixture of Momo and himself to Yakumo, hence the affinity and camaraderie that’s appeared so quickly. However, Yatora exhibits too many individual traits and that creates a bit of the friction involved in his relationship with Yakumo, because Yakumo is only self-projecting the experience and desire he’s left with in the wake of Sanada since he shared that proximity to her with Momo. The issue being that whereas Momo saw Sanada as much more of a friend and older sister, to Yakumo she was the nothern star in his journey to pull himself up out of the mud.

I guess, if I were to try and boil things down into their simplest forms with Blue Period volume 14, Yakumo finds a lot of fondness in Yatora because Yakumo wants to both right the wrongs of his artistic past through Yatora, but also because he wants to finally move on from Sanada. Not quite in the sense of a rivalry, but taking the next step to truly become a Sanada in Yatora’s life. It’s an interesting struggle, and one that’s really well voiced by the lack of interaction that Yakumo has with Sanada, and how his wishes remain unspoken with every girl that he’s been near in life. It’s all this incredibly convoluted and internalized mess that creates such an incredible web of character interactions through the lens of art that it’s impossible to really express without saying “go read the volume”.

I could spend hours talking about the character dynamics of Yakumo and Yatora through Sanada as a vessel, and the whole idea that Yatora was hesitant to look at Sanada’s work because of the same inadequacy and distance that Yakumo felt in it. The near effortless beauty that feels so far away from Yakumo and Yatora.

It’s such a great dichotomy in how they view their muses and inspirations for art, as Yatora finds beauty in Mori, while in this volume Yakuma expresses so much loathing and hatred towards Sanada. Even further is their real introductions to admitting their source of inspiration. While Yatora willingly steps in front of Mori’s canvas and soaks it up, Yakumo refuses Sanada’s art and is seen in contrast as empty vs the beauty that he views in her art.

And honestly? I feel like these moments are things that should exclusively be experienced in the manga. I don’t think they carry near the same value if viewed on a website with the ramblings of a person you’ve never heard of before. I can speak to end about the great use of space in this volume, or how lighting is used to express Sanada’s influence on the cast and their conversations and interactions, or how far Yamaguchi’s character blocking and sense of motion has come as of late. I could pick any number of things to gush about and pick apart for hours on end, but ultimately the value that is derived from the art is the experience it provides you as a person.

So, at the end of this review did I really say anything about Blue Period volume 14? Probably not, no. But I don’t think that matters much. Since I’ve started writing reviews and sharing opinions on the internet, one thing’s remained the same- what I say about Blue Period, I say solely for myself. My words truly mean nothing to another person on a work like this, so it makes me question the kind of person that would bother reading this in the first place. And even though I question that, I find myself choosing to post something like this, with the intention that nobody would see it.

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