Yuri Manga: Sweet Blue Flowers, Volume 2 (English)

January 8th, 2018

A good translation of a manga can be a little bit like magic. You pick up a book and without effort you are able to read this story created in a different country, in a different time or place. It’s an extraordinary feeling. The Viz Media edition of Takako Shimura’s Sweet Blue Flowers is a little bit like magic.

In Volume 1, we met Manjoume Fumi and Okudaira Akira, two childhood friends reunited as teens, and their school friends. 

In Volume 2, Fumi is coming off a relationship with Sugimoto, an older girl who hadn’t been honest with her and she’s feeling a bit bitter about it. Even worse, Sugimoto keeps trying to salvage it, but is doing a crappy job of it. Fumi’s had it with her ex, and lets her know that in no uncertain terms. 

Akira is surrounded by people who are falling in love and isn’t sure at all how she feels about it. When she asks Fumi, Fumi admits that Akira was her first love and again Akira has no idea what to do with the information. It’s almost as vexing as one of her friends going out with her annoying older brother. And when she overhears something she didn’t want to know about her friend Kyoko’s family, she has no idea what to do with that, either.

Back at school, the girls are all second-years now, with new students coming in. We meet Ryoko Ueda who kind of reminds Akira of Fumi and Haruka Ono, who is clearly (to us) bearing the burden of a (to us) fairly obvious secret of her own. Side stories indicate that there’s more complexity to relationships than just what we see here in the main story.

This volume moves quickly and slowly at the same time. Scenes are slow and leisurely – drama club practice, sleeping over a friend’s house – but time is whizzing by. One second Mogi sort of likes Akira’s brother, then next they are dating and we never actually saw them together much at all. Good translation can be magic, but it can’t fill holes left by a serialized manga schedule. ^_^;  Shimura’s super strong on developing characters, but putting in all the details of the story has never been her best skill.

This volume comprises Volume 3 and Volume 4 of the original Japanese edition. This is an excellent English release and I think we can expect it to maintain this high quality.

Art – 8
Characters – 8
Story – 7
Lesbian – 4
Service – 1

Overall – 8

Volume 3 of the English edition will be available in March, so you have plenty of time to pre-order. ^_^ If you haven’t already picked up this “new classic” of Yuri, I definitely recommend it, for having a depth of early 20th century  literary history and still being grounded in the present.

 

 

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6 Responses

  1. Madison says:

    I really do appreciate that this got licensed, any reason to reread something from Takako Shimura is a plus in my book. I do really love her art style. I’m pleasantly surprised by the quality of the translation as well, Viz did quite a good job here.

  2. Your first paragraph very much reminds me of “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” by John Keats, which is basically a metaphor for discovering anime* (and is also apt, considering how into Western literature everyone in these books seems to be).

    (*Or at least that’s how I felt about the poem when I read it in high school, when I was discovering anime and literature both for the first time)

    Sometimes the plot gaps work for me – when I found out Akira’s brother is going out with one of her friends, my reaction was the same as hers: “Wait, WHAT?”

    I love the leisurely feel to this book, it feels more immersive to me that way. There’s more time to soak up the atmosphere of the people and places.

    And the art, of course, is gorgeous. It somehow fits the pace of the book, too, although I wish I had the theory to explain what I mean by that. It’s simple but rich.

    For anyone using the Previews catalogue at their local comic shop, I believe January 18 is the cut off date for ordering for volume 3…buuuuut, many shops can still order things past that date somehow, you can still pre-order it off bookstores, etc. (I’m honestly just mostly confused by Previews and thought I’d try and help anyone else in the same boat as me.)

    • Previews inhabits a special, uncomfortable place in the book pre-order world. Publishers have to submit entires 5 months before the publication of Previews, which comes in 3 months before pre-orders close. Book stores have a much easier time of pre-ordering than Comic Shops and rely on them less. (Diamond was the solution to one problem of comics distribution and created a different problem.)

      Since the book is being released in March, it makes sense to get pre-orders for Local Comic Shops in asap.

      • Thank you for explaining that. This lines up perfectly with my usual system of ordering comics:
        1) read an announcement of a comic I’d really like
        2) months later, a narrow Previews window opens and closes
        3) scramble to try and get the book after it comes out because I never figured out when to order it ^_^

        (I’ve gotten pretty good at my beloved manga GNs, at least)

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