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Blue


A 220-page manga, 2004, Fanfare/Ponent Mon.
ISBN: 84-933409-7-9.
Buy from Amazon.

Category: lesbian, slice-of-life.

Author(s): Kiriko Nananan.
Website: Publisher's site. 0 comment - add a comment.

The two girls (from the Japanese version)

Kayako Kirishima is in her last year of an all-girl high school. She finds herself attracted to Masami Endô, a girl of her class who got expelled last year, for mysterious reasons. The friendship between the two girls quickly develops into more than that, but things are not simple, and author Kiriko Nananan hasn't written a light romance story, far from it.

In fact, she's writing more about all the ways a budding relationship might fail, with a sense of sobriety and restraint which is matched by the sparse storytelling and open panels.
I must admit I found the general absence of backgrounds to be distracting, the first time I read the book. But on a second reading, I realised it did enhance the focus on the characters' behavior and state of mind. In that sense, one could say that Nananan's style is expressionist.

Another interesting point is that Masami's reactions are never explained nor analysed, only shown. She's a complex girl, who's already had a relationship, with a man, and did pay a heavy price for it. The portrait of Japan that is created from this story is not that of a socially liberal country, to say the least.

While Kayako and Masami's story is not a happy one, there are a few scenes of wonderful visual poetry, like when Kayako cuts her friend's hair. Nananan draws a two-page spread with only the girls sitting and cut hair falling, without a word added. It's right in the middle of the book, and it definitely feels like it was intended as its emotional heart.

Can blue be created from stark black and white? With that doomed love story, Kiriko Nananan proves that the answer is yes.


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