Blue Period Turns Creative Struggles Into Their Own Work of Art

For those who have ever thought of going into the creative industry, T. Yamaguchi's Blue Period hits home in its portrayal of an aspiring artist's mindset. Written by Tsubasa Yamaguchi, Blue Period is a poignant story about a young high schooler named Yatora Yaguchi. Unexpectedly, he finds himself drawn to art after he is mesmerized by one of his senpai's paintings. From then on, he throws himself into drawing and painting, his eyes set on getting into Japan's top art school.

It's not easy, though. Not only is Yatora starting from scratch, but he has to face many challenges, some coming from his parents -- but mostly from himself -- as he steps into the world of art.

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Yatora was never serious about art, seeing art class as a way to slack off and still get a high mark. What was the point in working hard in a class that wouldn't amount to anything? He wasn't going to be an artist -- an unstable career path with virtually no financial stability. Once he graduates, he would get a nice, stable job and go down a safe, proven path instead. He even tells Yuka, a member of the art club, that she'd be better off marrying rich than going to art school.

blue period yatora mori painting

But art throws his world off-kilter. He's eventually inspired to actually be an artist, and not only joins his school's art club, but also enrolls himself in cram school to get more mentorship without telling his parents. Yatora is determined to enroll in Tokyo University of the Arts (Geidai), Japan's most prestigious art school. He even ignores his homeroom teacher, who discourages him from pursuing art, chiding him that he's wasting his time and potential. He has the grades to go to a reputable school, so why choose an art school?

Yatora's mother was originally the most resistant, telling him that he needed to focus on choosing a school that would lead to a stable career. But after she sees how passionate he was, she becomes very supportive of her son. The inspiration Yatora's senpai sparked turns out to be infectious.

Many people are often discouraged from making their passions a career and choose instead to keep them as hobbies. After seeing Mori-senpai's painting, something inside Yatora wakes up. Until that point, Yatora had been living life according to everyone else's will. He has difficulty expressing what he wants and what he likes, but art gave Yatora what he needed: passion, communication, color, a different perspective and an opportunity to connect with people on a deeper, emotional level.

His very first painting -- of a blue Shibuya in the early morning -- conveyed feelings about his hometown that Yatora couldn't verbally express. Instead, he created a conversation through his brushstrokes and every color he mixed. When Yatora spoke to his mother, he realized that he couldn't explain what he felt through words. So, to show her how he felt, Yatora gave his mother a drawing of herself cooking. This wasn't a hobby for him: art was Yatora's way of expressing himself and giving others a gateway into how he viewed the world.

blue period blue shibuya

It's a common misconception that artists are inherently gifted. When Yatora first meets Mori-senpai, he thinks it's a compliment when he tells her she's very talented. However, she counters by explaining that his compliment negates all of the hard work and long hours she put into creating her painting. It's a lesson that he has to learn: talent can only get you so far.

Yatora literally starts from scratch: he has no background in art since he never had an interest in it. He realizes how far behind everyone else he is, but what shocks him to his core is when he realizes that Mori-senpai, who he looked up to, was fifth from the bottom in her class at cram school. What hope did Yatora, a beginner, have in getting into Geidai then?

Yatora pours his heart and soul into learning as much as he can, letting his determination, work ethic and hunger fuel him. Because he is a blank canvas (excuse the pun), he isn't set on a specific technique or structure and is open to experimenting with art. Blue Period's depiction of the various struggles and barriers that often bar people from pursuing art as a career is painfully relatable and honest. But it also offers encouragement and hope for those who are plagued by self-doubt to continue chasing their dreams.