TL;DR – when living life is bland and boring and you stumble upon something that ignites the flame inside, pursue it through the fears and doubts. This is what Yaguchi seeks to do as he strives to become an artist.
Review (warning: spoilers)
It is not uncommon for anime to tell stories about anime or manga artists or writers. Bakuman being one of the most popular that comes to mind and which you can read my review here. However, Blue Period is probably the first anime I’ve seen that focuses on traditional art (e.g. sketching, painting, sculpture etc.) and the many facets, techniques, inspirations and doubts that come with pursuing this form of creative expression.
The main character, Yatora Yaguchi, is an intelligent student with a lacklustre attitude. He doesn’t know where he is going in life or what he wants to do. However, this all changes when he sees a painting of an angel done by an arts club member at his school. Something sparks inside, and he finds himself staring out at the city of Shibuya, seeing its beauty, and wanting to capture it on canvas. What he creates is a painting of Shibuya in many different shades of blue. He is thrilled when he receives praise for his work, and thus starts down a path to becoming an artist, much to the concern of his parents who can see his earnest passion but fear he will live a hard life as a result.
Yaguchi aims to be accepted into Tokyo University of the Arts (TUA), considered the most prestigious arts school in Japan. TUA only accepts one in two hundred applicants into their arts program, so Yaguchi understands he has a mountain to climb. What follows are the trials and tribulations of pursuing the craft, and Yaguchi encounters a wide range of other students and teachers with their own strengths, idiosyncrasies and unique views on art.
What made the anime interesting to me was that the series is willing to delve into the technicalities and tools used by artists (some may find this aspect boring), but this lends to an authenticity that combines well with the human element, emotion and interactions that Yaguchi experiences. He feels he is behind the eight ball and has a lot of ground to cover to catch up with other students who have spent years honing their artistic skills. This leads to the understandable self-doubt that plagues him and the building of his own character and perseverance.
The animation is impressive. How they manage to animate brush strokes, mixing of different coloured paints on a palette, and the finished piece of art on canvas are all done realistically, and you take it for granted that someone or some team of animators had to animate these things. They even animate an image of “Girl with a Pearl Earring” to a solid degree of efficacy, so kudos to Seven Arcs production studios.
All in all, Blue Period is an enjoyable story that seeks to show anything worth doing will not be easy and should be done wholeheartedly and with perseverance.
7.5 out of 10