[Please note that there may be spoilers for Volume 1 in this review. Read at your own discretion. Thank you.]
Blue Flag Volume 2 by KAITO continues the story of Volume 1 with a school festival and the continued evolution of complex, youthful relationships as they pertain to friendship and first-loves. In my review for the introductory volume, I pretty much gushed about how much I loved the series and felt that it has tons of potential to be superb. With the second instalment, I feel quite enthusiastic in reaffirming my adoration for Blue Flag.
Some of the traits that I initially felt intrigued by in Blue Flag include the concepts of changing oneself for romance, the insecurities that teenagers face, especially in high school while dealing with their first potentially serious relationships, and an unlikely twist to the love triangle or square trope. The second volume takes these elements and really starts to pound them out into meaningful explorations, which add great character depth, making the story more multi-faceted.
For example, Taichi realises that he is developing feelings for Kuze and it works to heighten his self-awareness of his shortcomings. Meanwhile, Kuze is starting to understand that as her friendship with Taichi deepens, so does the impact that his presence has around her. Similarly, Tōma fights with emotional attachments of his own and trying to accept that what he feels for his crush may end up being unrequited, something that is starting to trouble him a lot more than he allows himself to admit, and another woman who is Kuze’s best friend, has a special method all her own for dealing with her continued inability to confess to her own crush. It all seems super complicated, but when you toss in wholesome and authentically crafted friendships between all individuals, those complexities turn into a story that is laced in the core elements of the human condition: feeling emotions and feeling them powerfully and the influences that they can have on a person as they grow and mature and work on discovering themselves. It creates a powerfully personal investment between the reader and the characters, and that’s what makes Blue Flag so bloody brilliant.
Beyond the examination of the impediments of young love, I appreciate the care that the mangaka gives to portraying how the bonds between everyone deepens, whether it’s over a couple of ice-cream cones on a hot summer day or via a late-night telephone call where vulnerabilities are exchanged. It’s not always just about the love drama, but merely about the comforts of companionship; the beauty of it; the simplicity of it; the importance of it.
Volume 3 cannot arrive fast enough for me. A huge part of me is rooting for every single character, but by doing so I also understand that hearts shall inevitably be broken and a whole different lesson on growing up and understanding love shall be imparted. While I joyfully anticipate it, I’m also wary of my own heart falling to pieces for the kids that I’ve grown to respect and admire so much.
If you’re not reading Blue Flag but are searching for such a genuine coming-of-age story to read this summer, packed with breath-taking illustrations and beautiful explorations of multi-dimensional relationships, then you must pick this series up. It’s one of the best ones around.
Blue Flag Volume 2 by KAITO shall be hitting shelves on June 16th. Make to pre-order your copy if you’re able to.
Please note: I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review, courtesy of VIZ Media.