As I read Nakatani Nio’s Bloom Into You, Volume 3, I get to experience a vast range of emotion, much of which I find hard to put into words. I can’t help seeing the narrative through my own lens, even when the characters tell me that my interpretation is wrong. ^_^;
In Volume 3, Yuu is at great pains to explain her feelings about Touko. She acknowledges confusion about what she and Touko want and also that their needs are only partially compatible. But what is not acknowledged is that Touko’s needs and desire from Yuu are mutually exclusive in and of themselves. On the one had, she needs Yuu to never fall in love with her, but she also wants Yuu to want her. Yuu, as always, has a different story in her head. She kind of reminds me of a person I knew who was waiting for some kind of spiritual awakening. She did all kinds of different spiritual practices, but never felt that “aha!” she was looking for. I keep wondering if Yuu is just missing what she’s actually feeling, while looking for something else.
In the meantime, I give all my attention to Sayaka and the cafe owner, their teacher’s lover. The cafe owner has good gaydar, (and again, I crow about the important place of adult role models in teen narrative.)
But, back to me and my feelings. I am exasperated with Touko, and her pushing Yuu for whom I feel sympathy but no empathy. Before I began writing this review I asked myself if I would have less frustration if I knew that Nakatani-sensei were either queer herself or was, in actual fact, attempting to portray a complexed, nuanced queer narrative. To be honest, the answer was yes. As it is, I’m taking the narrative as it’s presented, which means I’m as at a loss as Yuu. I can’t help but compare this to Shimanami Tasogare. While equally fraught, the situations in Kamatani-sensei’s story are more realistic and I believe we can trust the creator to tell us a strong LGBTQ story, neither of which is true for Bloom Into You.
Art – 8 Generally good, with a few lazy panels
Story – N/A I have no idea. Is it good? Is it going exactly the way the creator wants it, or not? I can’t tell!
Character – Erm, um, 3? I can’t get a bead on who/what Touko is, and as she’s the main plot driver….. +3 for adult lesbian couple
Service – 5 Yes, see below
Yuri – 8 Yes, despite narrative (and/or overthinking reader) confusion, there’s plenty of Yuri.
Overall – 7, with me waffling back and forth throughout from good and nuanced to argh.
Volume 4 will be hitting shelves in February 2018. It’s not going to resolve any of my conflicted feelings.