In Blue Friend, Volume 3 (ブルーフレンド), Kanako starts her first day of high school by making friends with a group of three girls, all of whom seem fashionable and fun, so she thinks high school life is going to be pretty swell. She really doesn’t get that girl in class, Ao, who just seems rude. But quickly, her relationship with her new friends starts to sour as Aki presumes on their friendship. Finally, Kanako has had it, and tells the group she’s done with them. Aki begins to retaliate with time-honored bullying, to the mortification of the other two girls. But Kanako walks away without a glance behind her and becomes close friends with Ao after all.
Ao’s outspoken, opinionated personality has a striking affect on Kanako. She’s able to say what she thinks and not hide her feelings and, as a result, she thinks she’d like to be friends with Ao. Ao’s reaction is extreme – she’s been alone for so long, she had no idea how to “be friends.” But she tries.
Kanako tries to be stronger, Ao tries to open up and intermittently, they accidentally get one step too close and the tension between them rises. When Ao kisses Kanako in a puricula booth – because she was told it was totally normal by some schoolmates – she realizes that her feelings aren’t “normal” and she pulls away from Kanako. But Kanako has learned to speak her mind now and she forces the truth from Ao. She later gets a kiss of her own in, but in all honestly, there’s miles to go for both of them before they have room for those kinds of feelings.
The situation with Aki gets worse, and she steals a phone strap that Kanako bought for Ao. Ao finds it, but not before Aki’s jealous bullying is outed for what it is, and she is roundly scolded by her friends and Kanako. The other girls ask Kanako to be their friends again, but Kanako refuses, saying she’s found a better friend in Ao. The two are reunited and after an embrace, we are assured that they’ll walk towards the future together through sweet and bitter.
Although this is really a story about friendship, with the barest edge of tension between them, I liked it loads. For one thing, all of the girls tell the bully off, including what would normally be her henchchicks. Basically, the bully is the lamest character, not inexplicably powerful. Phew. Secondly, it’s okay to have the girls just be friends…to develop the kind of friendship that in Japan is traditionally assigned only to men. A bosom buddy, through thick and thin. There’s an old saying which I can’t be bothered to look up about how women’s relationships can’t last. You know, because we’re weak in the brain and when a guy comes along, we go all gaga over him and become rivals, or something. So just having Ao and Kanako being friends is fine with me.
As a sequel to the first two Volumes of Blue Friend (here are my reviews of Volume 1 and Volume 2 ), it was refreshingly not locked in a story of mental unwellness, or a struggle against bullying. In the way that the first arc sort of “fixed” some of the more horrible tropes of classic shoujo Yuri, this arc “fixes” the bullied student trope. For that, I’d recommend it to a girl child I liked.
Art – 7
Characters – 7
Yuri – 2
Service – 1
Overall – 7
It might not quite be Yuri, but there is tension between them and maybe one day, it’ll be something more. Or not. It’s fine the way it is.