Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Manga Review: Blue Friend volume 1

Drama, drama, drama. Eban Fumi's Blue Friend advertises itself as "この百合マンガがすごい!" ("This yuri manga is great!") on its obi, but the real theme so far is "You can't escape your past."

Kurihara Ayumu is outgoing, athletic, and generally well-liked.

Tsukishima Misuzu is pale, quiet, and popular with the boys at school, who she always rejects because she hates men. The other girls envy and ignore her, but she doesn't seem to care. When Ayumu tries to make friends with her, Misuzu at first rebuffs her but later warms up and they become friends.

Misuzu briefly kisses Ayumu one day, leaving Ayumu confused about what it meant. Misuzu tries to pass it off as nothing, and Ayumu doesn't push the issue further. A boy named Hirai tells Ayumu he likes her, but when he later takes back his confession and Ayumu hears that it was because she supposedly told Misuzu to tell him she isn't interested, and Misuzu doesn't deny it, Ayumu's a little freaked out. She finds out that Misuzu had a good reason for telling him to stay away, and she and Misuzu make up and become closer friends.

One day Misuzu gets a note in her locker from someone who knows about her "dirty past." Misuzu panics and the note-writer shows up out of the blue- Azuma Satsuki, a girl violating her suspension from school, whose every premeditated gesture and icy cold smirk screams, "Teehee, I'm a villain!" News quickly spreads around the school that she's appeared. Ayumu's the only person who doesn't know who she is.

Misuzu becomes increasingly shaken as she receives more and more notes. When Ayumu is putting some things in a school storage room one day, she finds herself alone with Satsuki. I will admit that I kind of hoped Satsuki would try to woo Ayumu and royally piss off Mizusu. Instead, she insinuates that Ayumu and Misuzu are in a relationship, then asserts that Ayumu really hates Misuzu. Ayumu insists that she does like Misuzu and leaves, but it's obvious that Satsuki struck a nerve.

In a flashback to Misuzu's elementary school years, she's sitting on the lawn outside of a hospital taking to a doctor. Misuzu's classmates hear about it, and start gossiping that he must be her boyfriend because he's handsome, and how her dad isn't her real dad. Satsuki(!) chases them away by spraying them with a water gun before spraying Misuzu. Satsuki infers that Misuzu has a crush on the doctor, even though she doesn't say so. I'm dying to know what happened to make Satsuki obsessed with screwing over Misuzu. Crap...this is a long review.

So- back in the present, Ayumu and Misuzu have a fight and the next day there are flyers all over the school saying that Misuzu seduced a doctor at her stepfather's hospital. It's obvious that the doctor from the flashback raped her after gaining her trust, but even grade schoolers aren't immune from victim-blaming. Misuzu faints and Ayumu tells her to hang on.

I felt like I needed a Tylenol after that ending. I want to see what happens to these characters, and I know that they will get a happy ending because of the Blue Friend ~after days~ epilogue that was published in the January issue of Ribon Special. (Blue Friend runs in regular Ribon. I haven't read ~after story~, but I've seen the post about it on Yurina Hibi. I didn't read through the vast majority of the text- just looked at the pictures, which seem happy enough.) Because I know about ~after story~, I can at least rest easy that Misuzu won't kill herself or die in a knife fight with Satsuki or anything. The real mystery is how the heck Misuzu and Ayumu will get that ending and whether their relationship will become healthy- not with Ayumu acting as Misuzu's sole emotional crutch and not with Misuzu remaining hyper-possessive. If not, then I can't really consider it a happy ending.

Ayumu serves her purpose in the story well. She's the kind of friend you would want if you were going through a shitty period in your life but, realistically, even she has limits to how patient she can be with Misuzu. Misuzu is realistic as a teenager who often behaves like an ass, but only because she feels like there is nothing really worth caring about and no one who cares about her- aside from Ayumu. I'm interested in seeing how the dance between these two plays out.

Blue Friend can be difficult to read at times, but it's definitely involving. I'm morbidly curious about what happens next.

Story: B-
Art: B+
Overall: B-

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