Since I’m currently unemployed and my last collab happened ages ago, I figured now was a great time to get together with fellow anibloggers!
So starting off my wave of collab content is this manga review of Aqua Blue Cinema! This yuri manga was recommended to me by the lovely Lita Kino! I haven’t written any reviews for manga in a long while, so please be patient with me here. You should also really check out her review of Dark Forest, White Road, which I recommended for her to read, over here! She’s been doing a fantastic job with her daily postings for her September Blog-a-Thon challenge!
Without further ado, here’s the review!
(Beware of spoilers)
Originally published from September 2009 to May 2010, Aqua Blue Cinema (also known as Mizuiro Cinema) is a love story that involves a popular actress and a humble country “bumpkin.”
First of all, the premises is not innovative by any stretch of the imagination. Stories showcasing how love can overcome social inequality are fairly widespread in general. To be fair, however, said stories typically feature a popular student becoming interested in a loner schoolmate, which this manga abstains from by elevating one of the protagonists into an actress. So while Aqua Blue Cinema‘s setting is altogether similar to many other works, the differences in social status have been exaggerated which causes the story to resemble a Cinderella story due to its inherent idealism.
Be that as it may, Aqua Blue Cinema is still grounded in reality due to characters that are both vibrant and realistic in mindset and behavior. This mainly applies to Yui, the pretty actress who looks older than she actually is, and Tae, the cute, short, and dorky country girl; the other characters largely remain as underdeveloped side-characters (excluding a very insincere ex-girlfriend who is easy to dislike).
Even though the tsundere archetype is overused these days, Yui doesn’t go overboard with her mixed messages and is actually entertaining and tragic (considering that she was dumped prior to the start of the series). However, Yui isn’t perfect, much like actual people in real life, and her own selfish lie is what keeps Tae around as her assistant long after the country girl accidentally causes the actress some minor trouble. Nevertheless, Yui is keen enough to notice how Tae is a sweet and kind girl despite her lack of fashion sense and falls for Tae hard.
In that sense, the idealistic setting works towards Aqua Blue Cinema‘s advantage because the actress, who participates in one of the most vain and superficial industries, is able to recognize the country girl’s pleasant traits despite a less-than-promising exterior. There are make-up artists who fail to realize Tae’s goodness and they come across as shallow and mean-spirited by comparison. This in turn accentuates the strength of love and showcases how the two girls were meant to be (despite the fact that Tae is given a make-over by Yui which implies that Tae’s current appearance was unacceptable, but I digress).
Unfortunately, Tae is a bit too selfless and she almost loses Yui to Mizuki, Yui’s ex-girlfriend. Wanting nothing more than for Yui to be happy, Tae listens to the conniving woman who convinces the naive girl that Yui would be happy if she rekindles their former relationship. Thankfully, Yui and Tae reunite towards the end where they exchange fluffy confessions and discuss future plans.
To this day, Class S influences the yuri genre, so seeing the couple discuss living together as lovers is very reassuring. There’s a time and place for love stories with tragic endings, surely, but I’m always pleased to see narratives that clearly state that the love felt between both girls is not a transient phase. Cast off the shackles of Class S, yuri anime and manga of the modern era, for the love between two girls is the real deal!
Yui clearly identifies as a lesbian as she has absolutely no interest in men so she definitely isn’t just “gay until graduation.” Despite being aware of her own orientation, Yui is worried that Tae will consider her to be weird since “girls loving girls” is considered abnormal in a heteronormative society. Such concerns are commonplace in yuri works to the point of being almost cliché and can be considered harmful towards viewers by possibly spreading an incorrect message, but it’s handled with respect as a minor subplot. The fact that Yui is an actress who is in the limelight brings in potential for scandal should word of her sexual orientation get out, combined with the fact that Tae grew up in the countryside and wasn’t aware that girls could love other girls, makes such presumptions fairly believable in regards to causing alarm for either girl.
Thankfully, Yui’s fears are proven wrong, but that’s just the thing, isn’t it? The anxiety Yui feels as she imagine Tae rejecting her due to her orientation is not based on logic but on emotion. Even though Tae readily accepts this aspect of Yui, Yui is quick to believe that Tae is repulsed by her orientation and that is the reason why Tae abruptly quits her job as Yui’s assistant shortly after Yui comes out to Tae (since she is unaware that Mizuki had fooled Tae into doing so). Insecurities and conditioned social values are not something that are easily turned off like a faucet, after all. This is an unfortunate truth, but it also serves to make Yui seem all the more realistic.
As for the yuri, nothing happens between Tae and Yui beyond a kiss. At least, nothing else is shown on-panel. I’m positive their relationship developed beyond just that!
Overall, this is a yuri manga that yuri fans should check out on account of its strong and memorable protagonists. The series is short with only 6 chapters (7 if you include the epilogue chapter), but it’s pleasant read despite not being ground-breaking. Be that as it may, not every yuri manga has to be trailblazer or revolutionary – fluffy, heartwarming fairy tales are fine, too. The fact that very few scenes take place in a school environment is also a plus considering the school setting seems to be the universal norm for yuri manga.