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Bloom into You Vol. 1 Paperback – January 3, 2017
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“[...] the story and characters here are excellent, and while it may seem like your typical high-school yuri romance, I was surprised several times throughout. Definitely recommended.” - Sean Gaffney, Manga BookShelf
About the Author
Nakatani Nio is a Japanese manga creator best known for Bloom into You.
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But when she is confessed to by a boy at the end of middle school, the new high-school student feels... nothing. She is confused and thinks this can't be love then, and so is eventually, through a talk with her new friend and sempai (upper-classman at school), Touko Nanami, able to let him down gently. The next thing she knows, Nanami-sempai herself is confessing that *she* is in love with Yuu. Again, Yuu feels nothing and is greatly confused about what to do with this puzzling situation. And puzzling it is, not just due to the homophobia in Japan but also due to her own lack of emotional response.
As the friendship and such of Nanami and Yuu grows, and they begin to get closer, Yuu is even more confused. Should she stop the interactions with Nanami, or just let them continue. *Why* does Nanami love her so much? Should Yuu feel more? Why doesn't she? She has to find the answers to these questions to figure out what to do.
This book is interesting as it presents some ideas that are not frequently explored in romance manga of any stripe. Instead of romance being quick it is a slow-burn, at least for one of the two leads. For that matter, one of the leads doesn't know how to feel, and her expectations and immaturity because of it actually are hampering her potential love life.
One interesting part is to figure out just what Yuu's personality and such is. Is she asexual? Asexuality is the lack of sexual feeling for others. She seems to not respond with sexual arousal or such to situations where such would be expected of her. She also seems to having issues feeling things. So possibly she is. Is she aromantic? Aromantic is the lack of romantic attraction to another. From what I can see here, and have read in spoilers, the answer is no. But she can't see she is falling for Nanami because of her constant assumption that love feels like it does in romance stories, when in real life, it isn't that simple at all. It *can* be that way, but it doesn't have to be that way, and this is fine. Future spoilers suggest she isn't either, though she is near them. But it's not so cut and dry and is more complex with her.
There is nothing wrong with being asexual or aromantic, but we can't know what Yuu is for sure because she won't examine her feelings outside the metric of love stories. The audience has to wait and see what her personality is.
Nanami is a harder character to gauge so far based on this first volume, though from what I've read, later volumes rectify this. She is right now mainly an impetus for Yuu's exploration of her feelings and such, but we see some hints at the complex characterization that will be explored in future volumes. Right now she is just the ace, good at everything and Yuu's sempai and friend/possible girlfriend. In future volumes, she'll get more characterization which I look forward to.
So far, then, the story is a bit incomplete in that we don't get to know enough of Nanami, but what we do see is promising, we do see a lot of Yuu's inner workings so far, and the two girls do make sweet friends and a sweet proto-couple together.
The exploration, even if subtle and not labeled as such, of asexuality, aromantic leanings, and the narrative of a slow burn to romance is not revolutionary, but it is fairly unique, especially to find all of these in one story. I enjoyed this because it had these facets to the story, but still the sweetness I like in *yuri* manga.
The art was really good as well. It was not to the level of a *Citrus*, but better than most stories. It was light strokes and not much shading, and overall just some very good work. As well, the mangaka got proportions on bodies right, which is really hard and many can't get right.
Great work and Highly Recommended for *yuri* fans, and those interested in the themes discussed above.
Rating: 5/5 Stars.
What I mean is that this story, while having all the familiar high-school-girls-yuri story beats, is different because of how Nakatani Nio introduces us to one of our main characters.
Yuu, the main character in this story, loves the idea of romance often found in "shoujo" manga. She wants a guy to come in and confess to her in a way that makes her heart jump into her throat. She's dreamed about it for years, but when someone does exactly what she wants she...feels nothing. No butterflies, no swooning, no blushing in the cheeks. And it bothers her. She begins to wonder, as she enters high school, if something is wrong with her, if she's just not meant to feel love.
Now, most of us would think this is obvious. It's a yuri manga, so she's going to have feelings for a girl instead. Except that doesn't happen either.
Yuu ends up overhearing a guy asking out Nanami, the beautiful student council member, but Nanami turns him down. Yuu is drawn to Nanami not because she's attracted to her, but because of the reason Nanami gives for turning the guy down: she didn't feel anything with his confession. Thinking she's found a fellow "Maybe love just isn't for me" person, Yuu begins to hang around Nanami.
Obviously you should know what happens next: Nanami says that she's falling for Yuu because of their shared "I don't feel love" deal, but this is where the story gets weird.
Yuu doesn't return the feelings. In fact, Yuu actually gets a little bitter about the whole thing. She thinks it's not fair. She finally found someone who shares her struggles, who she can relate to, and suddenly Nanami turns around and ends up, for lack of a better term, stabbing Yuu in the back.
This tension--Nanami says she's not bothered that Yuu doesn't like her back, she just wants to be around Yuu--is a whole new spin on this typical yuri story, and I found it fascinating. Nanami does everything she can to be near Yuu, from asking her to help with Nanami's presidential election, bringing her a gift back from her trip, and even stealing Yuu's first kiss (yes, Yuu uses 'stole' and while she says she's not angry, she's not swooning over it by any means either). And yet, through all of this, Yuu feels nothing. Instead, she ponders why Nanami-senpai likes her so much. She decides that maybe, given time, she'll end up returning Nanami's feelings, so she puts up with it.
The preview for the next book continues this odd, "I'm not in love with you but let's keep going because maybe I'll change" style. I won't spoil it, but what Yuu suggests--and Nanami's reaction to it--is kind of dark. Personally, I'm really enjoying this slight twist on this familiar story, so I'm looking forward to what happens next.
Bottom line: If you're hoping for something where the two heroins instantly fall into each other arms, or get all flustered around each other but don't confess for the first half of the story, this one might not be for you. Yes, Nanami is playing her traditional roll, but Yuu is something different. Granted, there are tiny hints in the book that she's warming up to the idea without even realizing it, but right now she is not the other girl in the yuri story. She is an outsider looking in, trying to figure out if she has a place here, or if she should just bail and go back to reading her manga.
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would recommend to any yuir lover :D