Nude Model and Other Stories: The History of Tsubasa Yamaguchi



Have you ever read a work that’s left you paralyzed? Backed you so far into the corner of your own mind that you feel helpless at escaping with what you so desperately want to share? Tsubasa Yamaguchi, and by extension Nude Model and Other Stories, has done just that to me. What initially may seem like an eclectic web of short stories with very little aside from oddity chaining them together, is in actually an incredibly intense period of questioning and spiralling that Yamaguchi has found themselves in, and represents the earliest aspects of what’s come to define the masterpiece that is Blue Period.

Before diving into the contents of this comic anthology though, I’d like to take a look at the history behind these short stories.

Unsurprisingly, Nude Model (the namesake of this collection) was the first of the short stories to be published, being released all the way back in 2015. This is, of course, Yamaguchi’s first published work as a mangaka, and went on to heavily inspire their titular work Blue Period. The story and the nature of it of course bares considerable semblance, but even the concept of a romance between a lead pair of characters was carried over. Personally speaking, it’s a deeply interesting look into Yamaugchi’s more unabashed self that we only see intermittently breaking the surface of Blue Period. Not to say that Blue Period is divorced from Yamaguchi as a creator, but within the context, scope, and framework of Nude Model, your connection to Yamaguchi as a reader feels considerably closer and more personal.

Moving forward, we stick particularly close to Nude Model in terms of chronology with Girl. Released in 2015, this short story brings an incredible amount of discussion to the table, and in contrast to Nude Model, bares surprisingly little direct similarity to Blue Period. Once I get to discussing this work I’m certain that readers will understand where the connections appear. Regardless, alongside Nude Model, Girl remains a foundational work of of Yamaguchi’s early career- and a stark contrast to the final short story of this volume.

I say short story and not one-shot, because Kamiya is actually a two-part affair instead of a one-shot like the earlier pair of works. Similarly, Kamiya appears well after Blue Period in terms of publication, having been released in 2022. Because of that, it bears very little similarity to Yamaguchi’s Blue Period, but visually is incredibly interesting to experience because of that timeline. It’s such a curious and interesting short story that I just can’t wait any longer to talk about these works.

Nude Model

Built atop a dare, and cloaked in the weight of self-hatred and isolation, Nude Model bears uncanny resemblance to Yamaguchi’s Blue Period. Within that same breath however, it immediately resolves itself as something decidedly different. It takes on a far darker tone, it more quickly intertwines romance, self confidence, and social structure, almost forcing them together into a singular vision. It’s a race against the clock, both in terms of the dare that kicks the story into gear, but also the limited space of this work.

You don’t spend much time with the characters in this one-shot (though you will in Blue Period), but the mark they leave behind on the reader is impressively strong. The idea of displaying your true self, naked and without obstruction, as a metaphor not just for how Niko behaves to hide his self, but also for how Natsume perceives Niko is masterful. It’s a farce that comes tumbling down when Niko becomes aware of his self, suddenly shying away from his typical naked display that he graced Natsume with previously.

I think it’s incredibly beautiful how deeply inspired Yamaguchi has been by art since the beginning of their career in that sense. One-shots such as this one have gone on to define some of the most pivotal moments in Blue Period, and you can very easily understand why- these stories remains personal for Yamaguchi. The expression of sexuality and beauty a core that gets tossed out the window when forced to face an ugly reality, but still the perseverance and desire the linger past that initial disgust. Nude Model very well could be one of the best one-shot stories that we have in English Print, and that only serves to heighten the legend of both Yamaguchi and Blue Period.


Between Nude Model, and the arc inspired by it in Blue Period, it’s safe to say that Yamaguchi is not one to be discouraged or unnerved by erotica. Inversely, Yamaguchi’s affinity for traditional art, and their personal connection that exists within these stories really adds to that experience within their works. To that end, Girl is a short story that dives deeply into erotica and even fetishes, aiming to display the disgusting emotion that can be called desire at times. It’s a far more loose and lofty story, sitting atop a barely cis younger boy, but the point that’s driven home remains painfully strong. Through it all, want is a feeling that can easily lead to destruction. Desires can be incredibly self-serving, formed by jealousy or hatred of another, and acts like that only serve to damage who you are as a person. Desire vented as frustration and hatred can only breed destruction, but when you’re a young boy you don’t know what to make of that. Just like those around you, you’re also going through changes and finding yourself challenged by how you feel and act.

In that sense, while it may not be a blueprint for Yuka-chan, Yamaguchi thoughtfully explores the darker aspects of gender envy, and the terrors that exist with being a woman. It mixes in a strong sense of naivety, and doesn’t quite resolve anything with its characters, but for being a manga from 2015, its material is nothing short of impressive. A lot of creators can end up shying away from writing more challenging experiences from perspectives that aren’t theirs, and while that’s no slight against them, Yamaguchi effortlessly rises to the challenge, providing an incredibly unforgettable story centered around a young student exploring who they are.


Kamiya presents a very interesting, and even fun shift in Yamaguchi’s works. After striking gold with Blue Period, Yamaguchi’s had all the art-related work they could ever desire- just shy of a decade, if you’re counting from Nude Model. Of course at some point you’d grow tired of the relations that exist to your main work, and of course you’d desire to branch out. That’s where Kamiya comes in- A two part short story about a doctor who’s afraid of blood, but ends up falling for a vampire at a host club. An incredibly unique concept that’s just drowning in the red liquid called love. As a concept, I think it’s incredibly fun. Vampires have always been known for their ethereal depictions in media, so chaining them to the idea of something that subsists on charm and appeal makes perfect sense. Similarly, allowing them to shapeshift only extends that idea.

Though I think the icing on the cake is the most daring, but also arguably most gross depiction of love in the story. Our doctor that can’t stand liquid love eventually overcomes that fear and in turn becomes obsessed with it, leading to her downfall. I think the gradient of her experience and how it both rises and falls is really wonderful, especially as it’s a story with no strings attached. While obviously not without introspection, and specifically appreciation for Yamaguchi’s artistic talent, Kamiya is considerably less hefty than its two older siblings in this collection of works. And because of that, it’s a great note to end on. A supernatural story romanticized to the max, it’s Yamaguchi working some muscles they’ve not had the opportunity to with Blue Period, and I can really appreciate that.

And with that, an end has been reached with this review of Tsubasa Yamaguchi’s Nude Model and Other Short Stories. I think regardless of experience with Blue Period, this is a volume of manga that everybody out there should be picking up. It doesn’t necessarily stretch the limits of possibility within the medium of manga, but I think it easily breezes past what the English market perceives as the “limit” for storytelling in manga. Because of that, It’s the type of work that makes it incredibly hard to summarize or conclude, purely because the idea of a beginning and end within Yamaguchi’s vision is something that doesn’t quite exist. The supposed “end” is when you as a reader reflect upon the work, but at that point the concept of an end eludes you, and you internalize the work and your experience with it.

So in short, pick up Nude Model and Other Stories and read it. Experience it, enjoy it or challenge the depictions within. Yamaguchi’s work will always be worth your time.

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