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  • In chapter 1 of the Bloom into You manga, as protagonist Yuu turns down the boy who

  • asked her out at the end of middle school, careful paneling keeps older student Touko

  • out of frame, aside from a somewhat solemn shot of her glancing at Yuu.

  • Instead of showcasing the upperclassman, attention is paid to Yuu's body language as she tenses

  • up while rejecting him before calming down after he accepts it, shown on the next page

  • so as to provide a sense of catharsis upon flipping.

  • This leads into an uneasy page composition wherein we as viewers are only able to see

  • Touko's grasping arm, while Yuu expresses concern at the face which is hidden from us.

  • Suddenly, this face is made visible as she asks the pivotal question, implying her own

  • interest.

  • Yuu, attempting to avoid her comprehension of Touko's question, grows increasingly

  • uncomfortable, and once again her facial expression is hidden.

  • This continues until she brings Yuu to her face, forcibly confessing and denying her

  • the chance to avoid engaging with the situation.

  • This expert sequence is something that could only be done in a manga, one made by an expert

  • of the craft at that.

  • It was one of many that I thought the anime would fail to live up to.

  • However, the voice acting of the anime's version fully communicates Yuu's tension,

  • relief, and then plunging back into anxiety.

  • The excellent cut of Yuu pulling her arm back only for Touko to yank it forwards works together

  • with the ripple that the motion creates, the aforementioned voice acting, and the stellar

  • music to not only communicate the manga's core in this scene, but to elevate it.

  • In effect, it transfers the original's beautiful charm while adding its own understanding of

  • these characters.

  • This scene's conclusion, of Yuu seeing their clasped hands in Touko's eye, is not present

  • in the manga, and demonstrates this expertly.

  • It's rare to see an anime so clearly understand its source.

  • It's far rarer for that to lead to one of the most important queer works in the entire

  • medium.

  • But this start may have been a bit abrupt.

  • Allow me take a step back before we begin in earnest, as the backstory here really is

  • quite important.

  • As I argued in my video on Fall of 2018 a week or so ago, yuri anime is in a great place.

  • Anime fandom has always been an important space for queer fans, one where gender-deviant

  • expression is normalized far beyond where it is in broader society.

  • The presence of queer works, yuri being a big part of that, has been a boon to young

  • gays for well over 2 decades now.

  • I'm confident in saying that I would not have discovered my identity were anime not

  • around, and that's something that can be said by tens if not hundreds of thousands

  • around this planet.

  • Yet in all this time, we have not been blessed with what we need.

  • For all the wonderful queer works that exist as manga, few manage to make their way into

  • anime.

  • This isn't to deny the existence of important, excellent works; Oniisama e, Aoi Hana, Yuri

  • Kuma Arashi, Doukyuusei, Wandering Son, Flip Flappers, all of these are worthwhile watches.

  • And of course, we can't ignore the key role played by decades of trash.

  • Godawful, intensely problematic works had and have their own roles to play in allowing

  • people to peek at potential identities in a safer and easier to justify way.

  • However, for those who've made it beyond that hill of self-discovery, these works are

  • often disappointing, and it can scarcely be denied that young, burgeoning queers deserve

  • some wonderful works as well.

  • Enter Bloom into You.

  • It's fairly well known at this point that I am anime youtube's chief expert on the

  • yuri genre.

  • As the one sitting on that not-so-respected throne, I consider it my sworn duty to educate

  • the world as to what we get every season.

  • Without a doubt, there's always gay content.

  • However, quite infrequently do we get romantic works as such.

  • This year has had plenty of excellent yuri anime, from Comic Girls to Revue Starlight,

  • but for as inarguable as the queerness is in these works, it is not the focus of any

  • of them.

  • Aside from the admittedly excellent Kase-san OVA and Liz and the Blue Bird, the only straightforward

  • queer female romantic comedy or drama prior to Fall was Citrus.

  • I'm sure Citrus has had a positive impact on the lives of many, as I said, trash can

  • be important, but it is trash, though I won't relitigate my complaints given that there's

  • already a 30 minute video where I do so.

  • It's very fortunate, then, that we got an adaptation of what is, without a doubt, one

  • of the most beloved yuri manga ever penned.

  • Written and drawn by the fantastic Nakatani Nio, the manga which is referred to in Japan

  • as Yagate Kimi ni Naru or Eventually, I Will Become You has risen up the charts, placing

  • on the Weekly MangaOriconlists, something no series in the genre had accomplished beforehand.

  • This sterling feat is no shock given the series' background.

  • Nakatani Nio did not, of course, get her start on Bloom into You, though it is her first

  • serialized manga.

  • Like many in the industry, she started out hercareeras a Touhou doujinshi artist,

  • though even with her early, 2010-era works, skill is self-evident.

  • While many of these were considered yuri by her fans, and likely would be classified as

  • such by most of the viewers of this video, she herself didn't think of them that way.

  • As she says in an interview, “I was hesitant to call my work yuri because I never intended

  • to narrate a love story.”

  • In spite of this, it's clear that the groundwork for Bloom into You was laid at this point.

  • The way she portrays relationships has hardly shifted; she's deeply invested in the messy,

  • complicated aspect of our feelings.

  • This, in itself, is important.

  • Much of the reason trashy works continue to be beloved among some sides of queer fandom

  • is the fact that they often, in being problematic, deal with complicated situations, though perhaps

  • not in an ideal manner.

  • Real human feelings are hardly straightforward, something only made more true when you exist

  • within a society that views you asdifferentat best and sinful at worst.

  • Queer is, after all, a term that means weird, and to most of us, our feelings on gender,

  • romance, and sex count as such.

  • Nakatani's intense focus on these was, as a result, bound to be relatable to a great

  • many.

  • Of course, complex emotions have one other benefit; they simply make for a good story.

  • It's far from guaranteed of course, and a well-learned writer is necessary to bring

  • the potential in a complex story like Bloom to the forefront, but were the actual story

  • not enough for you, the way Nakatani makes use of Koyomi, the resident writer character,

  • should more than establish that this woman understands the craft, a topic we'll return

  • to with time.

  • After submitting another messy love-story of sorts to Dengeki Daioh for a contest, one

  • which she happened to win, Nakatani got the chance to debut as a part of the professional

  • mangaka world.

  • Fortunately for her, this came at the perfect time.

  • Dengeki Daioh is a seinen magazine, one published primarily for adult men, and traditionally,

  • non-fetishistic yuri has not had much luck in those publications.

  • However, the genre has been fast expanding, and Bloom's appearance in Dengeki Daioh

  • marked a major turn of the tides, showcasing that yuri manga could now appear anywhere.

  • Nakatani's new editor asked her to be the one to introduce a yuri work to this magazine,

  • a timely request given that at the time she wanted to make a work where, unlike her doujinshi,

  • No matter how you look at it, it's yuri.”

  • And so, Bloom into You began its warpath, acting as one of the vanguards for the genre

  • which has, over the last 3-to-4 years, virtually expanded by a scale of magnitude.

  • The announcement of it getting an anime this year was long-awaited, and served as solace

  • to fans afraid that the wonderful world of lilies was being stained by the adaptation

  • of works such as Netsuzou Trap and Citrus.

  • However, there was some nervousness about the project, and for good reason.

  • The manga is simply fantastic, and unlike many works, this quality is heavily derived

  • from its usage of the medium it's in.

  • This series was conceptualized as a manga through-and-through, elevated by the fact

  • that Nakatani's understanding of how comics function is on a level far above that of most

  • other mangaka.

  • Any given chapter is full of expertly-composed pages.

  • Her use of moment-to-moment transitions, a decision that allows a creator to showcase

  • the precise movements and expressions of characters so as to communicate in full their feelings,

  • would take cinematography and animation rarely seen outside the works of KyoAni.

  • Yet, with the assistance of Nakatani's relatively involved participation in the production,

  • it's turned into a satisfying work that somehow does manage to convey everything the

  • original did and more.

  • It's hard to say which is a superior work, yet in spite of being a fairly direct adaptation,

  • neither is invalidated by the other.

  • Even Nakatani herself says, “I think it's rare for an anime to reflect the original

  • author's intention to this extent.

  • I would tell them in detail, “This scene was drawn with this intention,” “This

  • character is like this,” so that there shouldn't be a difference in interpretation between

  • the original work and the anime.”

  • As she adds, “The anime staff was also very careful with it.”

  • I, and I believe the yuri community at large, could not be more pleased with this work.

  • But simply talking about Nakatani does not do it justice.

  • It's now time to return to where we started, looking at what it is that makes this work

  • so special and what it is that makes it so important.

  • As with all true masterpieces, Bloom into You is greater than the sum of its parts,

  • and talking about any individual aspects as if those are what truly make the show amazing

  • would do a disservice to how it all comes together.

  • However, it's nigh-impossible to structure a piece of this size without doing so to some

  • extent, so please forgive me as I break this into multiple sections.

  • Part 1: How The Anime Adapts the Manga The excerpt I began this video with, while

  • a particularly important one, is an excellent demonstration of the skill that director Makoto

  • Katou has brought to this series.

  • Of course, directors are far from the only staff involved in anime production, and many

  • people have played important roles in bringing this series to life and allowing it to dance

  • on the small screen, but as the leader of the project and storyboarder of the first

  • three episodes, it's inarguable that he set the tone for the series.

  • Katou brought a number of new elements to the work, ones which assist its transference

  • to an audio-visual medium.

  • Take the use of water.

  • It's far from original as a way to represent both coldness and a feeling of suffocation

  • but it feels so natural as a metaphor for Yuu's feelings that it's almost surprising

  • Nakatani didn't come up with it herself.

  • Take the first shot of the entire series.

  • As Yuu narrates about her interest in fictional romance, dazzled by it, with the image of

  • hand-holding stuck in her eyesan element which, as you may remember, will return as

  • Touko confesses to her, showcasing the opening of possibilitiesshe herself is unable

  • to grasp love even as she reaches her hand out.

  • The light of the water's surface reaches down to her, but she continually sinks, incapable

  • of making her way up-top, where everyone else is.

  • At this point of the story, where Yuu intellectually understands love due to media but is unable

  • to truly grasp it, this imagery is perfect.

  • This water motif continues through the work, especially in Katou's trio of episodes.

  • It returns later in the episode, as Yuu's friends talk of love, ready to experience

  • it, something that alienates her from everyone else.

  • It returns in the next episode, as Yuu is truly confronted with the fact that Touko

  • is not like her and in her has found a love that Yuu herself is utterly incapable of finding,

  • as well as when she spends time in her room that night, even showing the light of the

  • surface move away from her as she stares, unable to reach it.

  • Perhaps most strikingly, it returns in episode 3, in a different form.

  • After receiving the planetarium from Touko, her room is once again drenched in blues.

  • She is still sad about her inability to love, and in this instance, the metaphorical blue

  • curtains really do indicate her emotional state.

  • However, coming to appreciate Touko, she is now floating, not drowning, as she lays on

  • her bed.

  • On its own, this would be a simple, though effective, addition to the work.

  • What makes it such a productive case study in showcasing how the work is adapted, however,

  • is the way its integrated into the broader text.

  • One of the pivotal moments of the series occurs in episode 6, what is the end of the manga's

  • volume 2, as Yuu has come to the point where she sees it as possible for her to fall in

  • love with Touko.

  • Upon confessing that she values the side of the upperclassman that she doesn't show

  • to others, she's promptly told this: (I'd rather die than hear that).

  • This is something that causes Yuu to stumble, to consider that maybe, she can't fall in

  • love with her.

  • In fact, she literally stumbles here, almost falling into the water.

  • But she is no longer beneath the surface.

  • She's able to jump forward, on shaky steps, yes, but above the waves, and confront Touko.

  • She doesn't do so with a confessionshe can not yet accept herself as in love with

  • the girlinstead lying and saying she never will fall in love in spite of her desire

  • to do so.

  • Yet, it's clear that she has moved forward.

  • She can now avoid falling back into the water, because as nervous as she may be, she no longer

  • believes with all her heart that she can't fall in love.

  • While the meaning of this scene above the river remains unchanged from the mangathough

  • as in most cases, it's elevated by the audio component that I'll get to in a bit — a

  • whole new depth is added to the work due to Katou's careful understanding of the characters

  • and application of a new element.

  • As I've always said, an adaptation will most often succeed by copying the original's

  • core while changing the tangible details where necessary, and that's something that Bloom

  • into You has, without a doubt, managed to accomplish.

  • It's funny in retrospect that the other sterling yuri adaptation of the year, Kase-san,

  • also increased its manga's use of water motifs.

  • Great yuri minds think alike, I suppose.

  • There are just so many scenes which perfectly capture the manga's appeal in a totally

  • different way.

  • In episode 2, when Touko kisses Yuu as the train passes by, the sense of intimate eternity

  • that the vehicle's obstruction provides is demonstrated by having everything but Touko,

  • Yuu, and the train itself fade into white as time truly does freeze for these two kissing

  • people.

  • The series takes many viewpoints, but no matter who it's highlighting, we live in their

  • world, almost to a solipsistic extent.

  • In the same episode, as Touko tells Yuu that she doesn't want to date her, the muted

  • colors of the cafe give way to dazzling light.

  • This does not merely reflect Yuu's feelings of confusion and confused affection, it projects

  • them, expanding them in scale.

  • Take, on another hand, the intimate scenes.

  • These are numerous, and the anime's camerawork and animation always serve to emphasize them.

  • For as much as Nakatani focuses on moment-to-moment transitions, you can only convey a prolonged

  • passage of time so much in an inherently still medium.

  • Anime are gifted the chance to extended these moments far beyond the time that your mind

  • will register them as you read the page.

  • In episode 3, as Yuu strokes Touko's hair, the animation serves to emphasize the sensuality

  • of this scene above what the original was able to communicate.

  • In general, the anime does an excellent job at preserving this aspect of the manga; these

  • teenagers are, well, teenagers, and they act like it.

  • I've seen a lot of people claim to get hot and bothered by the end of episode 9, as Touko

  • and Yuu make out, and it's hard to argue against the fact that it perfectly communicates

  • how it feels to kiss someone you're attracted to for an extended period of time without