Yuri Manga: Bloom Into You, Volume 1 (English)

February 12th, 2017

Nakatani Nio’s blockbuster manga has debuted in English as Bloom Into You, Volume 1 from Seven Seas.

When I originally reviewed Volume 1 of Yagate Kimi ni Naru, I said that it was “a sweet little Yuri romance that I both enjoyed a lot and also have several real problems with.” My opinion has not changed for the better as the issues with it have not abated, but intensified. (And for those of you new here, I’ve also reviewed Volume 2 and Volume 3 in Japanese. No need to try to “explain” the series to me. Thanks. You’re welcome to disagree, but you won’t change my opinion. ^_^)

On the ANNCast Friday, Jacob Chapman delved into the stereotype of the predatory gay man as a thing that really put him off. I briefly spoke about the line where it becomes victimization that really bothers me. But I wasn’t able to address the other part of that…something that bothers me in all manga, not just LGBTQ characters – coercion. I dislike it immensely when a character uses their perceived or real power to coerce another character into a situation they don’t want to be in. This is as true for Strawberry Panic! as it is for Shitsurakuen. And it seems obvious to me that the entirety of Bloom Into You can be summed up in this single panel (read-right-to-left): “Why not just tell her no?”  “I tried, but Nanami-sempai won’t give up on the idea!”

That’s just a deal killer for me. “No means no” whether someone says it about being a campaign manager or a girlfriend and whether the person asking is male or female. It wouldn’t be cute if it was a guy insisting and it’s not cute that it’s a girl.

Moreover, it’s even more obvious to me this time that Sayaka was just dissed right to her face. It’s really hard for me to like Touko ever again.

Part of the problem here is that this is a manga, although rated Teen by Seven Seas, was written for a magazine for adult men, and it adheres to the standard male romantic lead plot – stalk her, bug her, insist your feelings are sincere and magically she’ll realize she loves you. This is horrible in Hollywood movies and it’s no less toxic here. No, this is not how one convinces a girl to like one. Nor is Akari’s plan to wait until the reason the guy she likes uses to not go out with her runs out, a sensible one. These are stupid lessons and stuff that sets my teeth on edge about any “romance.” If feelings aren’t returned, it’s okay to feel shitty about being rejected, but not okay to just keep insisting they’ll come around.

The delusion so many of the characters live under make me sympathetic only to Sayaka who seems to see the whole thing most clearly, right down to her own unfulfilled desire. She’s basically the only reason I’m still reading this series.

Very unusually for Seven Seas, this volume also contains several name translation mistakes. Nanami Touko is  at least once referred to as “Nanako” (a mistake I noticed on the Amazon description, and had meant to, but completely forget to, email Seven Seas about, woops, sorry) and Saeki Sayaka is sometimes referred to referred to as Sanae Sayaka. The page reproduction is the usual high quality we’ve come to expect, however.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 7
Characters – 7
Yuri – 5
Service – 1

Overall – 6 My reservations remain and have increased over time. The transition into English has not helped and the translation inconsistency (while quite probably because they had two proofreaders but no managing editor,) just sort of felt like an extra stone in my shoe.

“Sometimes love just takes time for the other person to get in to, right?”

Argh.

I really wish I liked this series, but I still have a lot of trouble with the premise. So, if you really like it a lot, I invite you to write in a short review for this volume in the comments and if you’d like to write about Volume 2 when it comes out in English, do let me know!

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9 Responses

  1. Nemo says:

    I don’t like it *a lot*, but I also haven’t read past volume one, and haven’t even read any synopsis for later volumes or anything. (I actually kind of pre-ordered it by mistake, thinking it was a one-off, oops.) So with that in mind, while I agree it’s problematic (albeit not as problematic as, say, NTR…) I have these tiny hopes that the next volume is less student council politics and more angst and emotional growth, as they realize and try to tackle the unhealthy character of their relationship. (And because one can dream, tackle the like totally totally obvious reality that Sayaka’s a (bi?)romantic asexual, but who am I kidding, lol.) I know it’s virtually guaranteed not to happen, but I try to give mangaka the benefit of the doubt. :/

    It’s just, keeping in mind I have no idea where the story goes, I can see how the story could redeem itself, at least in part. If this was the first quarter or third of a ranobe, I can see a couple of ways the rest of the book could improve on this introduction. But it’s not, and it probably won’t. C’est la vie.

    • NTR presents a whole other degree of “problematic” because it has no redeeming qualities. ^_^

      I am also giving the series the benefit of the doubt. 3 volumes in and I’m still giving it the benefit of the doubt.

  2. dude says:

    This seems like a deconstruction of the trope replacement goldfish, If you want to see better characterization like that watch Senran Kagura,do not be put off by the fanservice it is good.

    • It’s also pretty well known in gender-bending series where a character stands in for a dead sibling. It’s never really a good trope no matter how it’s used. Lazy writing is lazy.

      • karl says:

        “It’s never really a good trope no matter how it’s used.”

        What, the idea of a person being a substitute for another in some way is just bad and lazy 100% of the time just because you say so, despite the many and varied ways that broad concept can be used?

        • Every comment here is “in my opinion.” Getting angry at me on my review blog for my opinion seems like a huge waste of energy. ^_^
          But yes, it is a shitty bit of writing, just as “we met once when we were children, so this is fate” is. There many tedious tropes in writing, from fridging characters, to coercive sexual situtions. That many people use them does not make the tropes good, it just means that there are a lot of lazy writers. ^_^

          • karl says:

            I’m not sure why you’d assume I’m angry, but by the tone of your previous responses I’m guessing you’d just respond “lol no u mad bro”, maybe with a cute emoticon added, so I’ll leave the point be.

            Sorry, I do understand it’s your opinion; I wouldn’t expect you to express anything else. What I mean is that your “opinion” there was just shutting down that other poster by saying “no, that idea is stupid”. A better response might have been “Maybe, but I tire of that trope. I see it used time and time again in lieu of good character writing, and I see the same thing here.” That would express the same thing as you did, but by being nice, showing respect and adding value. I question if your reply did that. What do you think?

            Are you familiar with Neon Genesis Evangelion? I find the character of Gendo Ikari a despicable yet fascinating one. He’s emotionally very stoic, but at his core quite pathetic. Most of his actions are to the end of reuniting himself with his late wife, and one of the tools he needs to do this is a human with the soul of one of the Seeds of Life, beings with vague and great metaphysical power. He creates a clone (many clones) to house this soul, and chooses to clone his wife – with all sorts of interesting implications about this damaged man’s psychology. Meanwhile the clone, Rei, herself, struggles with her self-identity due to being one of great number of literally replaceable clones. I feel the series uses this to craft fascinating characterisation and there are some scenes with a kind of metaphysical horror (not least shots of the “Reiquarium”). Anyway, that’s one example of what dude refers to as the “replacement goldfish” trope which I feel really contributes to the show overall in several ways.

          • “What, the idea of a person being a substitute for another in some way is just bad and lazy 100% of the time just because you say so, despite the many and varied ways that broad concept can be used?”

            I didn’t assume anything. You were clearly pissy. ^_^

            It’s fine if you wish to disagree. But complaining that my opinion differs from yours (and it does, I find Ikari Gendou to be an absolute bore. There is literally nothing less fascinating to me than the endless ways men fuck people around them up to fill the holes in their ego, c.f. my utter distate for Trump) will never gain you leverage. It’s interesting that you bring up Rei, because she’s a perfect example of how much I think the replacement goldfish trope sucks. ^_^ She’s given no agency, abused and discarded repeatedly for nothing except Gendou’s endless neediness. Horrible writing, IMHO.

            Manga/anime fans spend a lot of time invested in their opinion and award themselves points for conversions, instead of learning to acknowledge that opinions differ and all are valid, as they are all opinions. Insight matters, not opinions, which is why I always surface my insight to what the basis of my opinions are. It doesn’t matter, though, as fans still mostly just get pissy when they disagree. ^_^

  3. karl says:

    “I’m guessing you’d just respond “lol no u mad bro”, maybe with a cute emoticon added”

    “You were clearly pissy. ^_^”

    I’m disappointed. That response was disrespectful, aimed to be hurtful and, to me, on the level of an immature Internet troll. Do you not think that it was needling? Baiting? Was it necessary to say that, instead of “well, it came across that way to me”, or something?

    Would you also like to engage with my first point, the reason I responded to your comment at all?

    “What I mean is that your “opinion” there was just shutting down that other poster by saying “no, that idea is stupid”. … [example phrasing] would express the same thing as you did, but by being nice, showing respect and adding value. I question if your reply did that. What do you think?”

    I feel you expressed yourself to dude as a bully, disrespectful and belittling, rather than by heeding your own commenting guidelines. Your view may differ, which is why I said “I question… What do you think?”

    Now, my first reply to you was quite pointed, non-constructively so. I’m sorry about that. I never complained (or intended to; I might have come across badly) that your opinion differed. Of course that’s fine. Returning to Gendo, I have my own reservations with him, certainly! It bugs me how his relationship with Naoko (the best representation to me of what you’ve termed “the endless ways men fuck people around them up to fill the holes in their ego”) features into her story. It kind of adds an interesting dimension to the Ritsuko/Naoko relationship, but the way Gendo seems to eclipse her character development bothers me. It feels simplistic. I don’t really like how Ritsuko follows in her mother’s footsteps like this either, but I do find her awareness of her self-destructive tendencies build a more elaborate and fascinating character, even if some aspects of it are distasteful. I don’t know about you, but I try and appreciate the quality of the story and character writing craft, direction, etc. even if some aspects of that story or characterisation repel me. Anyway, the fact that Gendo is so hurt that he can’t express genuine affection to anyone who doesn’t wear the face of his beloved wife – even his own son, whom he actually fears getting close to due to the danger of being hurt, the old hedgehog’s dilemma again – is to me a good use of the trope to develop character. Even if I found it boring, or distasteful, I don’t think I could consider it bad writing. That’s my perspective, though; I understand you see it differently. But because we began the conversation, I felt like sharing it. Hopefully you found it interesting, even if you don’t agree with it.

    Your last paragraph is an interesting analysis of fan psychology. It makes me recall many conversations I’m had on fora or even in person. (I find face to face discussions tend to be a lot more open and acknowledging of different perspectives. Maybe people are simply politer in real life.) Some people seem to have no interest in exchanging views, simply wanting to “prove” the other person wrong in their own mind or publicly. More of a debate than a discussion. It bothers me. But I’m certainly guilty of being invested in my opinion – what’s the point of watching anime seasonally if you can’t say what you think the best anime of the season is and why?

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