All You Do is Look the Other Way
Sweet Blue Flowers, volume 1
By Takako Shimura
Takako Shimura’s Sweet Blue Flowers (Aoi Hana) was serialized between 2004 and 2013. Volume One contains the first seven issues.
When they were separated as children, BFFs Akira Okudaira and Fumi Manjoume vowed to write each other every day. Well …
Years later, they meet again on a train. They’re both travelling to their new high school. They don’t recognize each other and find themselves making friends all over again. Eventually the penny drops. Recognition! Delight! It’s almost as though the intervening years had never been.
Which is good, because Fumi could use a friend.
Fumi is recovering from a broken heart. She had fallen hard for her cousin Chizu. Chizu reciprocated — that is, until she tossed Fumi aside in order to marry a hitherto unrevealed fiancé.
It’s lucky for Fumi that her new high school is full of potential love interests. Fumi falls for older student Yasuko Sugimoto, who returns her affection. They’re a pair! At which point Fumi begins to worry that she will lose her old friend Akira if Fumi doesn’t explain why she’s spending time with Sugimoto; also that she will lose her old friend if Fumi does explain why she’s spending time with Sugimoto. Who knows how Akira will react if she learns that Fumi is gay? The only logical solution: an unprompted, panicky confession, followed by nail-biting anxiety while waiting for the response.
Akira needs time to process this, but she takes the news phlegmatically. Akira herself isn’t interested in romance at all, but on consideration she is OK with people loving whomever they want to love. Fumi is still Fumi. Fumi is still Akira’s friend.
Which means all possible major issues have been resolved by the end of volume one, and nothing, absolutely nothing can possible complicate the situation. Right?
The artwork is clean and straightforward, but Shimura seems to have a limited number of faces in her toolkit. Sometimes I couldn’t figure out who was doing what.
I wanted a change of pace from the usual fate of the universe stuff. This certainly qualifies. It’s all personal drama. Only hearts will be broken, not worlds. The heart most in jeopardy is Fumi’s; she seems to have infinite capacity for stressing out, not to mention a penchant for people who will dump her1 or who just aren’t interested in her in that way. Poor Fumi.
Even the personal drama is fairly low key. No melodrama. Crises threaten and then fizzle out. Most of the characters are sensible people who talk things out rather than assuming the worst and cutting off communication. How the heck can the author drag out Will They Or Won’t They for thirty five chapters if the characters are willing to communicate?
The book was a pleasant time-pass. I don’t know that I will read the series to the end, but I don’t regret the volume I did read.
Sweet Blue Flowers, Volume One is available here (Amazon), here (Amazon.ca), and here (Chapters-Indigo).
1: I gather than in Japan, or at least in their manga, schoolgirl romances are seen as just a phase. Young women are expected to eventually love and marry men. This is pretty inconvenient for all the characters for whom being gay isn’t a passing fancy.