Once again I’m doing a full series review instead of just a first impression. I read the sample chapter of That Blue Sky Feeling on Viz’s site and I liked it enough to get two volumes. Then I found out the entire series is 3 volumes so I thought: Why Not! That’s not true, I went out of my way to get vol 3 as soon as I finished vol 2.
Ok so on a whim a few months ago I decided to just buy a bunch of volume 1 manga that I didn’t know anything about and figured if I found something I liked I would continue it. This has backfired horribly. Not only did I like most of the series I started but I absolutely loved receiving a box in the mail full of manga to discover and going through them one at the time in the evenings. It was like a different adventure every day!
And then, I did it again… This is not a cheap hobby by any means! I should just read digital versions. I really really should. And to kind of slightly justify it in my mind, I want to at least share my experience with you guys!
Why I Picked up That Blue Sky Feeling
I’m pretty sure I saw Takuto talk about it. Yup, I looked it up and I did! I’ve discovered some great Manga by listening to Takuto so I figured I would look into it. Viz is really great about providing free sample chapters so you can get a feel for a Manga before you buy it. Good job Viz! And I liked the first chapter!
A butterflies-in-your-stomach high school romance about two very different high school boys who find themselves unexpectedly falling for each other.
Outgoing high school student Noshiro finds himself drawn to Sanada, the school outcast, who is rumored to be gay. Rather than deter Noshiro, the rumor makes him even more determined to get close to Sanada, setting in motion a bittersweet tale of first love.
When Noshiro transfers to a new school, he meets Sanada, a loner who doesn’t seem to have friends—or want any. The other kids whisper that Sanada keeps to himself because he’s secretly gay. But rather than scare Noshiro away, the rumor only makes him more interested. He sets out on a campaign to win over the surly Sanada, embarking on a surprising friendship.
My First Impression
Are we actually going to get a story from an ally’s point of view? I don’t think I have ever seen that before. That’s honestly great!
What I liked
That Blue Sky Feeling is relentlessly optimistic without being saccharine or delusional. Sanada has a tough time coming to terms with his sexuality and society isn’t always accepting. But it’s not tragic either and That Blue Sky Feeling really insists that for every mean or just ignorant person Sanada meets, there is an accepting and supportive friend. Also that you need to give people a chance to be accepting and supportive, you can’t expect them to read your thoughts.
I thought that was a great a very practical message that doesn’t always make it into LGBTQ manga.
Ultimately, That Blue Sky Feeling chooses to brush off titles altogether. For all of Sanada’s hangups about being “gay”, the manga doesn’t even bother to define main character Noshiro’s sexuality at all. And what I got from that is that labels have the importance you give them. If a person feels a need for definition and feels more comfortable having a label then that label is important. Not so others can put it on but because that person has an identity they want to claim. But if a person doesn’t feel that way, then labels are superfluous. Basically, you can only define the importance of labels for yourself and not for others.
Another pretty good message. And I like that the manga didn’t pick any side. Sanada is not wrong for wanting to clam his sexuality and up to a certain point wanting others to understand him in those terms. Noshiro is not wrong for not really caring what he is.
There are no monsters and no angels in this manga. All the characters are in fact pretty nice people. Even the extras that start off rough around the edges, turn out to be normal kids. And all the characters can be selfish, annoying or just really short-sighted and ignorant. You know, like people are. And because there’s a certain balance in all the characters, no one’s point of view comes across as the one you should agree with. This creates a more nuanced experience and allows the audience to just go with their own feelings.
Finally, That Blue Sky Feeling contrasts Sanada’s experience and anxiety about being closeted with another gay character who is much more open. And it does show the hardships of each. The fact that there isn’t a right or better way to go about it and that everyone has to deal with some downsides. It’s one of the few mangas I have read that doesn’t advocate for coming out of the closet but rather emphasizes that each mist find what is best for them.
Well, it isn’t a story about the ally point of view and experience. And I won’t lie, I was disappointed by that. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not the fault of the manga in any way. I just randomly decided that’s what the story was going to be and then got excited for nothing.
Ultimately, this is a fairly standard school-age shonen-ai. It’s a pretty good one as far as they go. See all the stuff I liked. But it’s not revolutionary or anything.
Probably because That Blue Sky Feeling is only 3 volumes, most of the characters that aren’t our two leads, remain underdeveloped. They only really exist in the context of the story and you basically only get to know them as much as you absolutely need to for the plot to progress in a logical way.
The actual romance aspect didn’t quite resonate with me. I understood why Sanada was getting feelings. That was set up quite well in fact and I empathized with I’m a lot. But I couldn’t quite follow Noshiro’s emotional evolution. It felt like some steps were skipped there and that got me a bit out of it.
At the end of the day, That Blue Sky Feeling is a very sweet shonen-ai series, perfect for those that are fed up with all the tragedy, rape and abuse tropes of the genre. It attempts to be realistic and balanced but in the most optimistic way possible. Once in a while, that’s what you need. You know, a blue sky feeling!