I think a lot of you guys probably know Yayoiso or Yayoi Sou depending on which website you’re looking at. She’s a pretty successful Japanese webtoon artist that you probably would know as the author and artist of ReLife. I didn’t know ReLife was a webtoon. It explains a bit.

Anyways, Blue Hearts is her latest webtoon. I thought it would have been written before ReLife.

Why I Picked up Blue Hearts

I basically just liked the cover image. That’s really all there was to it. And I didn’t like it all that much. But it was a complete work and I figured I would read a chapter and drop it if I didn’t like it. Webtoons are so easy to read and short compared to traditional manga so I figured I didn’t have much to lose.

Official Summary

“What the hell are you doing, me?”

Already half of his high school life is over and none of his hopes and dreams have been fulfilled yet. This is how Yuuhi Nagi, who has no friends in his classes, has been living his uneventful empty life—until he got dragged into this unexpected crisis!

This is how the lives of the four people who are most likely to repeat a year, and the person who will help them succeed, are connected.

This is where this bittersweet coming of age story begins!!

My First Impression

This is actually more fun than I thought it would be – (I would live to regret those words…)

Review

I’m joking, kind of… I liked Blue Hearts and I thought most of it was fun. I was looking forward to picking it up again every time I put it down and there is quite a bit of humour in it.

But make no mistake this is a duh-RAMA!

The basic story of Bleu Hearts is that Nagi, an idiot with a heart of gold and a hot temper, is having a really tough time making friends at school. And through a series of slightly contrived circumstances, gets caught cheating, along with the best student in the entire school. As a form of new-age punishment, the principal decides to give Nagi (the absolute worst student in school) a chance to redeem himself along with the three other worst students. If they all score above average on the next test, they will all pass the year and their past transgressions will be forgiven. But if a single one of them fails, they all do. On the other hand, Toki (the best student in school) has to tutor them.

As such, Nagi finally has a chance to find a friend group where he belongs. And Nagi is a super friendly guy! In time, we realize that each student is going through something, and together they manage to help each other out.

On the face of it, this premise is…well it’s a bit cliché. It’s the Breakfast Club. But I like it. In fact, I like it a lot. I think it has a lot of potential and I enjoy seeing these types of relationships evolve.

The characters are also on the stereotypical side and despite the 50+ chapters feel a bit rushed in their development. Basically, the entire series can be roughly divided into 5 parts, one for each character. Because we start following one character, find out about their past and the current, usually very unpleasant situation. The rest of the group rallies to their side and they manage to make everything better. From there on, that character is just happy and solved. Then the story moves on to the next one.

So we don’t get many quiet introspective moments or just little random tidbits to flesh everyone out. We just get their one tragic past and their happy ending.

Also, I do appreciate that Blue Hearts is a drama but did it have to be sooooo dramatic. OK Spoilers BIG SPOILERS for one character’s story. Let me give you an example. One of the characters is completely withdrawn and essentially struggling with guilt and depression after having seen their best friend kill themselves in middle school. Now, this is absolutely tragic. The girl jumped from the roof of the school just as our main character got there desperate to save them. If it had been me, I would also be traumatized forever. Huge tragedy, especially for a child in middle school.

BUT that wasn’t enough, the girl who killed herself was being bullied and just before those final moments, the bullies tricked our main character into signing a farewell card, saying it was for a temp teacher who was moving to their next school. So they signed it, thanks for everything, good luck at your new school or something like that. But then the bullies gave it to the girl making it look like even her best friend was done with her. And that’s the last thing she saw before going to the roof to jump. So not only did our character not manage to save her, but they also think they’re responsible for pushing her over the edge.

Horrible! But wait, there’s more. Why was the girl being bullied? Well because her dad got murdered…No really.

Apparently, the girl was from an abusive home and her father regularly beat her mother. This time her mother tried to protect herself and accidentally killed the father.  But because the news images of the events showed the girl covered in blood, a rummer started that she was the actual murderer and that’s why she was getting bullied.

Have you had enough? Well, there’s more. Before jumping, she left a suicide note but the bullies, who were the main characters’ friends as well, though it might get them in trouble, so they burned it before anyone at all had a chance to read it.

I mean that’s a lot. It’s not just a lot, it’s a whole lot. And it happens all in a row. All this tragedy isn’t spread out over the course of the series, it’s just one thing after another until it becomes almost weirdly comical in just how tragic it is.

And that’s not the only character with this type of escalated drama.

In turn, this makes the more mundane stories of a student dealing with crushing expectations, seem just overly simple in comparison. Too bad because I preferred the lighter stories. They were way easier to relate to that’s for sure.

But you know, despite all this, I did like Blue Hearts, The overblown drama and rushed character arcs gave me the impression that the author may be new at this. Hence why I thought this was an early work. But it did not make me think that the author was not talented.

I had similar gripes about ReLife mind you and in some ways, I liked Blue Hearts more. I mean Blue Hearts may be an objectively worse webtoon, but I enjoyed it more.

Despite all their stereotypical traits, I still found the characters endearing. I didn’t get to know them too well but I liked finding out the little we did. And the structure of the story made it impossible for anyone to dwell on their trauma. Once it was the next person’s story, everyone moves on. So it never got suffocating or melodramatic for too long. And there are a lot of comedic scenes throughout the more dramatic ones. It was decently balanced, which is a little surprising.

Conclusion

So what’s my final say: I liked it. I think that if you are a fan of these very dramatic coming-of-age stories, there’s a decent chance you’ll like it as well. It’s a bit rushed but it leaves on a solid high. And that’s something I can get behind.

6 thoughts

  1. I really liked the Re:Life anime, but that drama bomb seems a little… over the top and all over the floor so you don’t know where to step. I thought I’d heard the name of the manga before, but, no, what rang a bell was the Japanese punk band Blue Hearts, whose songs form the basis of the show Rolling Girls, which I like a lot.

    1. I do beleive the ReLife anime is a bit more balanced than the webtoon and they fixed some of the pacing issues. Those are a bit more apparant in webtoon format

  2. I’m not a huge fan of highly dramatic manga, but I know someone that’s a huge fan or ReLife (it’s like their favorite anime ever!) and I bet they would really like this! Thanks for the tip!

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