Thursday, August 18, 2016
Sweet Blue Flowers: Full Series Review
This marks the second Anime adaptation of a Shimura Takako Manga I've seen and Sweet Blue Flowers has like Wandering Son many of the same strength and weaknesses the story of reunited childhood friends Manjoume Fumi a statuesque and emotionally fragile Highschool freshman and Okudaira Akira the short high energy one of the group who tries to to navigate reestablishing her friendship with Fumi and grasp Fumi's angst-riddled realization that she is a Lesbian and support Fumi in her relationship with the tomboyish Sugimoto Yasuko who has to deal with the continued affections of Ikumi Kyouko as well as Yasuko's unrequited feelings for a previous love interest. As a human drama about matters of the heart, Sweet Blue Flowers succeeds superlatively making this a story of the awkward fumblings and misguided aspects of love while not losing its identity as a story about a Teenaged girl coming to terms with her sexual identity or that Fumi is a Lesbian, not a High School girl who has ambiguous feelings for Senpai and will eventually grow out of it. The best scene in the entire series being when Fumi breaks down in front of Akira begging her best friend to not think ill of her because she is a Lesbian it's brave and honest. While Fumi trying to juggle her loyalties to Akira and Yasuko is admirable. The honesty of the series still doesn't stop it from falling into tired Romance Manga cliches and storylines found in older or more "iconic" Yuri series like Maria-sama ga Miteru or Yamagishi, Ryouko's Shiroi Heya no Futari. From both Akira and Fumi attending all girl schools to tragic pasts and broken hearts. Making it tedious in some parts as it's been done before. While Fumi as a character is bold in the mere fact of being a Lesbian she is often times a passive overly fretful girl who for the first two episodes pines in a depressive state over her frankly creepy and possibly predatory older female cousin Chizu who gets married at the beginning of the series. Wich could construe her whole raison d'être as a Lesbian as the tired "gay by abuse" archetype. But it's never really fleshed out in any real detail so this is merely conjecture. In short, it is a series that gives with one hand and takes with the other giving poignant testimony to the feelings of I am sure many Lesbians and making non-Lesbians at least cognisant of the sometimes complicated cycle of self-loathing and angst they suffer. While not fetishizing the sexual identity like say Sakura Trick or going into strangely uncomfortable places like Candy Boy. Yet the voice acting by Seiyuu Takabe, Ai as Fumi takes a compelling interesting character on paper and giving a listless, wooden and almost disinterested performance takes all of the pathos out of the series while also sounding affected. This is particularly noticeable whenever Takabe is forced to interact with Gibu, Yuko as Yuko does her best to capture the manic energy of Akira and also the more thoughtful moments. It's sad to see and is one of the main reasons I couldn't recommend the series or call it good. The other main sticking point being the reuse of shots as budget cutting points normally I don't mind "lazy animation" as it is often a necessary evil in making anime but this has some of the most obvious reuse of banked shots it became a game of sorts. While Backgrounds are a nice painterly quality looking much like oil paintings. While I can see why this has emotional resonance for some being emotionally invested in something does not make it good. As far as the promotion of Lesbianism in the series I can't endorse much like Wandering Son I can empathize with Fumi's plight but no approve of it in the slightest. In conclusion weak voice acting and cheap budget stretching sequences along with an overreliance on tired cliches keep this from being all it could have been. Instead making this a cult hit but little else and even than from a production standpoint it's not pleasant to look at in many places due to how cheap or washed out parts of it look although occasional uses of sunlight and shadow are impressive in capturing the dappling effect of shadow and light my statement that feels more like grasping at trying to say something nice than actual praise.