When Manjoume Fumi returns home to Kamakura to go to high school, she’s pretty much forgotten her childhood best friend, Okudaira Akira. But circumstance has brought the two together again in what, for many Yuri fans, is the most-anticipated anime release of 2013.
Fumi is a Nadesico beauty, tall, with long black hair. She was – and still is – a crybaby, who as child often turned to energetic, assertive Akira, A-chan, for help. Their meeting is accidental, but they fall back into their old pattern without even realizing it. And, in a moment, the two of them are best friends once again, even though they go to different schools.
Fumi is caught up in cross-school event, the Drama Club’s play for the school festival – and even more caught up by the lead actress, Sugimoto Yasuko. Somewhat to her surprise, Fumi finds herself dating Sugimoto-sempai and liking it, despite having recently ended a disappointing affair with her cousin.
Everything in this series is classic Yuri, redolent with the smell of old school hallways and libraries filled with old books, until Fumi confesses to her new-old best friend that she’s in love with and dating another girl. A-chan does her best to support Fumi. When Fumi tells Sugimoto, she realizes instantly that Fumi is exceedingly strong. She’s right, but she doesn’t yet know how strong Fumi is. Aoi Hana may feel like it’s set in the Showa period, but Fumi is a Heisei girl – a contrast we’ll see again and again in this story.
However. It wasn’t Fumi’s achingly adorable personality that brought a tear to my increasingly sentimental eye this time. It was the title of the first episode. As the words Hana Monogatari (花物語り) appeared on the screen, I got something in my eye, or maybe it was my allergies. (;_;) Or, maybe, it was the reminder that I’m not the only person to think of Yoshiya Nobuko as a beloved ancestor to this genre.
Art – 9
Story – 9
Characters – 10
Yuri – 9
Service – 2
Overall – 9
Disk 1 of Sweet Blue Flowers was incredibly beautiful, with the hyper-realistic backgrounds that are so popular in anime right now and the source of so much destination tourism for fans in Japan. Despite it being a “Lucky Penny” discount release, the DVD set comes with a booklet of promotional art, so we get a great extra even with the lower price.
You know how Fumi feels about the halls of Fujigaya? I feel that way about this anime. It’s recent chronologically, but it is a Yuri classic, nonetheless. I am so thankful to Shimura-sensei for writing this manga, and for JC Staff for animating it. And I am very, very thankful to Nozomi/RightStuf for releasing it in English!