Blue Period

Title:Blue Period
Keywords: , , , ,
Notables: Animation - Seven Arcs Pictures
Yatora Yaguchi excels in school and is well-liked by his peers, but inside he's a high school boy grappling with emptiness and frustration. That is, until one day when he finds himself fascinated by a painting. The painting's impact drives Yatora to throw himself into the harsh and beautiful world of art.
(Summary Courtesy of Anime News Network)

'The Blue Period is a term used to define the works produced by Spanish painter Pablo Picasso between 1901 and 1904 when he painted essentially monochromatic paintings in shades of blue and blue-green, only occasionally warmed by other colors. These somber works, inspired by Spain and painted in Barcelona and Paris, are now some of his most popular works, although he had difficulty selling them at the time' --Wikipedia

TV anime that premiered on October 1, 2021.
Animated by Seven Arcs.
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Rent Stretch [series:4372#628]
(All episodes watched):

Though I didn't quite grasp exactly what it was that made Yatora transform from a guy who felt "art is just a bunch of freaks playing with their talent" to wanting to become an artist himself, episode one of this show hooked me. He resents people who were seemingly born with talent while he needs to work very hard to get the good grades he has. He comes from a relatively poor family and going into a field as risky as art would be a great gamble, especially since he's a beginner with little confidence in himself. Being given a little lesson about how attractive colors need to be carefully chosen and mixed rather than making do with what is readily available seems to have convinced him that painting is closer to a science than he had thought. But, ironically, he seems to have some unearned 'talent' himself. Anyway, we get to know this previously aimless boy, and meet some other likable characters as well. As a sort-of artist myself, I found the subject to be interesting and decided to keep watching. I noticed that whereas a number of other new Fall 2021 shows had seemed flippant and difficult to take seriously, this one had quickly drawn my attention as a serious attempt to tell a story--perhaps because there is nothing supernatural or fantastical here. That was a welcome change.

Yatora enrolls in a prep school to improve his chances of being accepted at the cheap but highly selective Tokyo University of the Arts (TUA). While there he meets several of the characters illustrated above. He gets the message that his works are of so-so quality and he's unlikely to wind up at TUA unless he makes some major changes--but he has little idea what those changes would have to be. You get the feeling that it would be easy for Yatora to conclude that he is lacking some sort of inspiration which comes naturally to many others who wish to be artists. We learn a good deal about various aspects of drawing and painting, including some useful tricks of the trade. The show isn't entirely about what happens in the classroom, as Yatora finds himself with a cross dressing friend. It must be difficult, if not impossible, to put into words and the script of an anime just what it takes to come up with inspired ideas for new works of art, and I'm not sure I understood the breakthrough that allows Yatora to produce one that everybody loves in episode five. It may have been nothing but good luck, as his next work is a disappointment. We learn something about the struggles other art students we have met are undergoing at home; for example, one artist he admires actually admires him in a way, because Yatora isn't hauling as much painful baggage. This seemed like a good idea to me, as it seems that about the worst thing that could possibly happen to Yatora is that he might have to give up his dream of becoming an artist and switch to some other profession, which wouldn't be the end of the world. He could always continue pursuing art as a hobby. Indeed, this show may actually be as much about the secondary characters as it is about Yatora himself.

A recurring theme here (if I'm not imagining things) is that really good art comes about when you are trying to please yourself, not other people. The psychological stress of the upcoming TUA admissions exam is driving the characters nuts. During the first of three tests, what should have been a stroke of bad luck turns out to be a blessing in disguise as it gives Yatora an original idea. You wonder if you would have any chance of passing such a test if you took one yourself. A friend suffers a sort of a breakdown and Yatora must choose between prioritizing his own cramming or helping this person out. On a sort of a dare the two of them produce some truly noteworthy art. Again, what ought to be a disaster turns out to work to his advantage in an unexpected way. It made a good deal of sense and was intriguing.

In the final episode I figured that Yatora would probably be accepted at YUA, but this show is unpredictable enough that I couldn't be sure--he might have to try again next year. Like him, I had no idea whether the work he produced would be seen by the judges as brilliant or half-assed. I had figured that surely this was only the first season of an ongoing story (Yatora hasn't even begun classes in college), but there was no mention of a second season and it sort of felt like what had happened so far was a complete story itself. In the end, Blue Period was a fun show which I looked forward to watching. It did a good job of making the complicated process of coming up with ideas for new works of art and carrying them through to completion understandable and interesting. I hope there is a second season.

Last updated Thursday, December 30 2021. Created Tuesday, October 19 2021.

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