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From Taciturnity Scans:
Second-year middle school student Ayumu Kurihara changes classes and is seated next to the beautiful but strange Misuzu Tsukishima who dislikes boys. Misuzu can't get close to other people, but after being moved by Ayumu's sweet, honest personality she begins to open up to her little by little. Ayumu too is captivated by the awkwardly delicate Misuzu and the two of them become close.
V.3 (a.k.a. Second Season) It's Shimizu Kanako's first day at an all-girls high school, and she's a little overwhelmed. Hoping to make new friends, she bumps into the odd and distant Kamei Ao, as well as her first three new friends: Aki, Rikako and Haruna. Of course, not all can be so sweet in the world of girls.
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Part 1: Okay, Part 2: Better
Blue Friend is very interesting take on shoujo ai stories. First, two stories make up the series. Both about a pair of girls completely different from each other becoming friends and possibly more (it's very ambiguous). The first part is by far the longest, with 7 chapters and an over-a-100-page bonus chapter. The tale in the first part centers on the tomboy Ayumu becoming friends with the quiet and lonely Misuzu. It follows the trend of a number of yuri works that in any pair, one must be "boyish"; same with yaoi works where one male of the pair must be feminine to compensate that it isn't a hetero pair. I've understood the reason, but personally, I prefer yuri works where the girls can just be girls, not to say they can't have interests that aren't particular feminine. It's more to do with appearance e.g. flat chest, short hair, pants over skirts etc. That's just my preference.
Getting back on track, the characters are what drive this manga. It starts out following the usual pattern, where Ayumu notices Misuzu's introverted tendencies, and tries to get close to her, out of noble yet shallow view of being a good person. She succeeds, but then, their friendship becomes a source of issues for her. It deconstructs the usual cliche of once becoming friends with the loner, they'll gradual open up to you and in turn others. It'll just take some time. From the beginning, Misuzu is implied to be a very broken character. Her initial response that she "dislikes men" automatically triggers certain key words (coughrapecough), and those traumatic experiences don't get fixed easily.
When Ayumu shows she's trustworthy, Misuzu starts clinging to her, and being dependent. Ayumu finds herself in a difficult position, when she sometimes she has to give up time with her other friends and her club to keep Misuzu stable, and stresses her out. The friendship quickly turns into a detriment to her, when before her worries were more teenager problems. It's a time when a good deed alone doesn't fix things, but becomes a daily responsibility that she didn't ask for. The problems she faces could have easily been avoided had she treated Misuzu like the rest of their classmates, with cold indifference. Though she acted out of good intentions, she didn't expect to gain such a commitment. So when Misuzu's dependency eventually takes it's toll on her, she lashes out.
Misuzu is at the center of the story. Ayumu sets off the story by getting close to her, and the mystery of how she came to be this way is what drives the plot. For most of the story, she's a character with poor self-worth, and depends on her only friend Ayumu to an unhealthy extent. Because of her anti-social tendencies, she's the topic of disparaging gossip by her classmates. More than once, Ayumu's peers tell her to cut off her ties to Misuzu. It follows all throughout the manga acting as the general opinion of the school. It's appropriate for teenagers and humans in general to act like this. When someone closes off from others, they in turn are closed off the people around them. Because of being an enigma to social customs, they are treated as something foreign and a target of discrimination. It further drives the point on how Misuzu is an enigma in the school.
Chapter 7 is the weakest chapter of the story. They author tried to shove in a shocking swerve, but still hope to retain a happy ending. It's this contrast that creates a dissonance, leaving readers more confused and in thought than in warm tears of joy when reaching the end. This is most probably why the bonus chapter was made later to give a more satisfying conclusion. It gets points for giving Misuzu much needed character development. Major problem is that is extremely rushed due to being condensed into 100 pages (roughly 3 1/4 chapters), and the main medium to do it is a school play.
Overall, I liked this story though, despite the criticism. The main problems are due to cramming so much in a short story, and some parts could have been trimmed down and others expanded to make it flow more smoothly. When a character's only purpose is to get the major plot moving again, that's just lazy. There is a third pivotal character that appears at the end of chapter 3, but is introduced in the next chapter. Azuma is the delinquent character that just came back from a suspension the reader only hears about until after she comes back. She also happened to go to the same elementary school as Misuzu and happened to be around to witness her traumatic experience
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
and stop it before it was too late
. She's the one to tell Ayumu about Misuzu's stigma,
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
and the one to weed out the culprit sending Misuzu threatening letters and resolve the problem
. It's bad when a supporting character outshines the main characters. Azuma's not even a character; she's more of a plot device to put things where they need to go, and solve the problems the main characters can't. It's lazy storytelling.
On to part 2, or the second season, I ended up enjoying this more, because it flows better than part 1. The main girls this time are Kanako and Ao, two girls just starting high school. The contrast is better distinguished between these two on how they act. Kanako tends to suppress her true thoughts and go with the flow in order to make friends, but it also tends to get her to be taken advantage of, because of her doormat nature. On the other hand, Ao is very blunt and too the point, speaking whatever is on her mind, and because of that she's often alone and ostracized by others. After they first meet, Ao's personality inspires Kanako to voice her opinion more, her first action being to prevent the current group she's mingled in from bullying the former. It gets her out of the circle, but she doesn't mind and goes to become friends with Ao.
The main difference from part 1 is that none of the characters have a traumatic experience; the main plot is these two girls getting close despite being complete opposites. There are a lot of misunderstandings that happen, but their contrasting personalities makes it believable. The second season also inverts the gossiping where not one of the main characters suffer this, but a side character. Throughout the story, the reader will receive updates to how another character is perceived socially, Aki and her fall from grace. Unlike Azuma, she appears right in the beginning as the "leader" of the group Kanako mingles in. She represents the typically trendy girl, doing the popular things, and getting a boyfriend just to brag about it. However, she took it too far when she tries to bully Ao, and later Kanako for standing up to her. Standing up for Kanako in front of the entire class, Ao condemns Aki for her bullying. This results in a change in the dynamic. The atmosphere is a fickle thing and can change anytime. Aki was the most vocal of the group, so she assumed she was the leader, but the same circle excludes her for her self-centered behavior, and she becomes the target of disparaging gossip all throughout the story. However, since she's not a main character, it's more of a passing progression, but it still leaves an impact, by coming to a head by the end. When driven into a corner by the gossip, she acts in revenge against Ao, but it only served to dig her deeper into further social isolation,
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
and get a piercing slap from Kanako
. Yes, Aki was not a respectable person, but did she truly deserve to be the target of gossip? Is gossiping okay as long as it's the "right" target? Each reader will have their own interpretations.
Overall, Blue Friend as a whole was a good experience despite the issues I had with it. I didn't dislike it at all. It's certainly not for everyone; I'd recommend it to those interested. Experience it yourself, and see what you think. Warning though, despite being labeled Shoujo Ai, nothing concrete happens. There are a few moments, but the relationship between both pairs of protagonist never enters territory other than friendship.
... Last updated on July 1st, 2016, 11:46am
It's not a romance. Basically it's a 2 volume story about an incredibly possessive girl. She's also just a touch twisted and extremely down all the time. She had a bad thing happen to her in the past and it has a lot to do with why she is the way she is.
She makes friends with another girl. The first real friend she has ever had. Her new friend does her best to support her, but she has a hard time dealing with her extremities and fails much of the time.
The series could be a but more touching and I would of liked to seen a better outcome. Every-time you think the characters might of grown just a bit, they later reverted back. The story just kind of ended up going nowhere good.
You run across characters like this manga all the time. Characters that are in need of some professional help. In real life, it's likely that the girls parents would of sent her to consoling or something like that. But in the make believe world where manga stories take place, it's like mental health treatment is non existent thing.
A good manga but...
For the romance, I'd call it a tragedy ;_; I like shoujo ai story being constructed as normal shoujo manga like this one, it's new for me. The manga is cute and I love the character development. I wish there were a sequel for ayumu and misuzu, wait, Im not gonna spoil anything, just want to say the ending for their romance is just not satisfied at all
I respectfully disagree
with a couple of the earlier comments. They seem to be expecting a typical yuri manga, with comedy and happiness, and two characters steadily growing closer but being unsure about their feelings, and where the romantic relationship between the two is the primary story. They judge this manga according to this expected frame. But if you read the author notes along the way, it's pretty clear that that's not what this is supposed to be. It's meant to be a more complex story (which equals more drama/angst) and it's clear from the start that there is some kind of serious back story behind "the male-hating girl" as voodoo puts it. More importantly, the primary focus of this story is Tsukishima's back story and the friendship between her and Ayumu. It's about trust and devotion. There are important romantic yuri elements of course, but it's not the focus of the manga. The authoress, in my opinion, does a pretty good job with the two main characters - the normal, but at the same time compassionate protagonist Ayumu, and the closed-off Misuzu. She does a particularly good job making their responses to the situations they are presented with realistic. Granted it's a bit drama-filled as mentioned in other comments, but that was expected - the drama is part of the manga (you'll notice the first thing listed under genre is Drama). The authoress did a good job with the school atmosphere as well - the reality of life is that kids tend to be very gossipy and very insensitive. They are kids, they are immature. And it shows in the way the characters behave in this manga. However, I will provide a bit of criticism in that the ending was a bit rushed and did not provide proper closure, particularly with regards to the girls' relationship as Ayumu never clearly solves the identity crisis associated with whether or not she's "into girls". It's fine that the romance wasn't the primary focus of the story, but I would definitely say it detracts from the story to not have that issue resolved at the end.
Needs a more experienced writer.
The author is relying too much on the assumption that the reader will buy into the story because of the (alleged) lesbian theme. So far (chapter 4) all we have is a male-hating girl and a boyish girl. Not much for character depth or variety really, as far as yuri goes. And bad pacing/flow make for a series that isn't really too much fun to read.
youth love experience
I love it! Hm maybe because i can relate to it... I sorta have a similar experience in my "unexperienced" past love life. Guess thats why i dont feel it as "heavy" as other readers... I guess we just learn from our mistakes as hurtfull as they can be, simple rules and basics or relationships are not so obvious to us when we are young and unexperienced so we kinda flood over... A bit like what is happening to Ayumu and Mizuru.... So i like it! Two thumbs up bcs its realistic!
... Last updated on January 15th, 2011, 6:26pm
Yes, like some others have said, this manga has a dark atmosphere. Of course, since there's only been four chapters scanlated, it'd be a stretch to make a guess about the rest of it. So far, there's been one, maybe two small twists, and I feel like the drama is actually shaping up the story to be a lot fuller and a lot deeper than if it were simply a feel-good manga. My opinion of one of the characters completely flip-flopped once, and I think the hinted backstory and the character development so far is quite intriguing.
I'm curious to see where this will head, and I welcome the darker, more potentially manipulative feel of this manga. I'm giving it a 10 for piquing my curiosity this badly. Looking forward to more scanlated chapters!
too much angst
without enough pay-off. After 4 chapters I see this story will only ever let its characters a moments relief before plunging them into more angsty melodrama. From what I've seen of the last three chapters' raws this maintains through the end... For someone such as me who garners more enjoyment out of the lulls between the drama than drama itself, I'll have to say this is among the least of those yuri manga series' I've read.
It's the second chapter, and already feels a bit dark. There will be some pain and heartache. Oh. well. Not all good romance manga have a fluffy vibe about them. I just hope it wouldn't get really depressing somewhere in the next few chapters.
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