ARC Review: Sweet Blue Flowers, Vol. 1 by Takako Shimura

Sweet Blue Flowers, Vol. 1Sweet Blue Flowers, Vol. 1 by Takako Shimura
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Akira Okudaira is starting high school and is ready for exciting new experiences. And on the first day of school, she runs into her best friend from kindergarten at the train station! Now Akira and Fumi have the chance to rekindle their friendship, but life has gotten a lot more complicated since they were kids…

Fumi is glad Akira is back in her life. Even in kindergarten, Akira knew how to stand up for herself, and she was always willing to stand up for Fumi too. But Fumi’s first love recently got married, and Fumi is grappling with a broken heart and the fact that her sweetheart was another woman… Can Akira’s open heart help dispel the gloom Fumi has been caught up in?

Sweet Blue Flowers is a contemporary romance manga with a strong focus on f/f relationships. Fumi, a lesbian, is starting to get over a long crush with a new relationship. The introduction of her childhood friend, Akira, back into her life marks a change for her. With new acquaintances, and new club activities, she meets another girl who is interested in her. But Yasuko has her own baggage when it comes to love, and though they like each other, her previous feelings start to drive a wedge in their relationship. Akira, meanwhile has a classmate who also likes Yasuko, but she is torn between which of her friends she is rooting for.

The plot is all about high school romances, and it leans more towards female relationships. Not that there are not men – Yasuko is mentioned explicitly as bisexual (can I get a hurray for that?) and there are other supporting characters around, but the focus is definitely on female friendships and relationships. It is a sweet story, and lots of feel-good and cute moments, but also allows characters to develop organically on page.

The artwork is not elaborate, and is more simplistic, but it is still pretty beautiful. It brings out the tense as well as tender moments, and is stylistically good. The world the author builds in is contemporary, but without the homophobia; not that non-heterosexual relationships are the norm, but it is not treated as something weird by the characters and it was refreshing to have one that doesn’t depend on that kind of arc. Also, it doesn’t have gay panic moments either, and Fumi’s coming out to Akira is treated with care. There is, however, a scene with sexual harassment on trains, and I would advise content warning for those who aren’t comfortable with it.

Overall, a manga I am really looking forward to read more of. (There’s also an anime of it, and I am so going to watch it!)

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Viz Media LLC, via Edelweiss.

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