Brilliant Blue, Vol. 1
written by Saemi Yorita
Shouzo Mita is just an average guy. He grew up in a rural area around Kanigawa, Japan. People who grow up in small towns either do one of two things: live there forever or get the heck out as soon as possible. Shouzo did the latter. The small-town boy moved to Tokyo to make his own way in life, managing construction work. Everything is going just fine until he receives a call asking him to return to Kanigawa. His father injured his back and needs Shouzo to manage the family construction business for a while.
Returning home is filled with nostalgia and a little bit of resentment. The town seems to have remained the way he left it, for the most part. Still the same faces, still the same places. Only one thing has drastically changed, and that is an old childhood acquaintance named Nanami. Nanami used to be a pudgy, drab, clumsy boy. Now he’s a blonde bishounen (pretty boy) straight out of some girl’s romance manga. Personalitywise though, Nanami is till naive, sweet, and constantly hungry.
Shouzo and Nanami instantly reconnect as friends, but when a client returns to Kanigawa, Nanami starts acting differently. At first, Shouzo things Nanami has a secret girlfriend; but he soon discovers that this old associate has been emotionally and sexually abusing Nanami for a long time. Shouzo helps Nanami put an end to it, which ignites a small flame in his heart. The two remain solid friends, but each secretly desires just a little bit more from the other.
Brilliant Blue is a sweet, soft romance that moves slightly faster than a snail’s pace. Let’s call it turtle’s pace. In a way, it’s a relief to see a yaoi manga that doesn’t instantly define its homosexual characters based on their sexuality. On the other hand, the pacing is too slow to make a solid debut volume. Once the story unveils Nanami’s secret relationship, it starts to pick up and make a bit more sense.
So far, this is a fairly “safe” manga, meaning that it’s not very explicit (the publisher rates it 16+). At least for now it’s not. If anything, it can be a bit immature and cutesy. This may appeal to younger readers, but leaves the more mature ones looking for something a bit more serious. Though if the art style and characters were more serious, would it lose its charm? Hard to say. Overall, Brilliant Blue is far from anything brilliant, but perhaps future volumes will offer quality drama worth reading.-- Courtney Kraft