Bloom Into You Vol. 1 by Nio Nakatani

Rating: 💜💜💜💜💜

Genre: LGBTQIA+, slice of life, romance, yuri, girl’s love, manga

Content warning: n/a

It is hard to write a review for only the first volume, because Bloom Into You has became one of the best written manga I have read during the past few years. It has quickly became the new standard to which I now hold all yuri/yaoi/bl/gl manga. It turned out to be all I needed from the genre which I never even dared to hope for.

It stars a female couple and supporting characters, among them we have characters on the aroace spectrum, lesbians, heteros and some who never really label or define their attractions. The story also deals with past trauma and overcoming them and exploring romance and sexuality and what it means for the characters. While the first volume moves quick (which I have to chalk up to the genre’s fault, more on this later) the following volumes take a step back and start exploring and explaining everything. It is rare to find such manga where all conversations and scenes add to the depth of the story and the characters or it foreshadows something. There is also a lot of symbolism in the paneling and how the illustrations express the characters feelings.

Yuu just started a new school a few months ago and she is slowly getting used to it. She always dreamed of having a sparkling and heart-pounding romance that shoujo mangas talk about. But when a friend asked her out after their middle school graduation she didn’t feel anything special. Confused and feeling like her friends would not understand she has been delaying her answer. It’s not like she doesn’t like the person, so then, why doesn’t she feel that special feeling that would lift her up from the ground?

One day she gets roped into helping out the student council after classes and she accidentally overhears a confession between an older girl and a boy on the school grounds. When the beautiful upperclassman rejects the boy and tells him she doesn’t plan on dating anyone, Yuu finally feels like she has found someone who could understand her. As Yuu gets acquainted with Touko and the two works together at the council they also learn a bit about each other. 

Yuu wants to have that special connection with someone yet she feels she is unable to fall in love. She feels like she has found a kindred spirit in Touko who also confesses to never have been in love. So she is a bit suprised when suddenly it is Touko herself who confesses to Yuu. While she doesn’t understand why she would like her, Yuu certainly doesn’t mind having Touko around. 

While the first volume and the first few chapters move very quickly and seemingly fall into instalove on Touko’s side, it is far from it. I chalk this up to the medium, since manga are often published monthly, chapter by chapter, they have to set up their story fairly quickly to grab their audience.

However, I can promise you that after volume one the story takes a step back and unravels everything that was set up in this volume. This is probably the only instance I ever had an issue with the pacing or the writing, everything in the next volumes is so carefully crafted and amazingly written.

There is a reason why Touko has been refusing every love confession before and why it is only Yuu that interests her. There is a reason why she is so quick to throw around the word love without really knowing Yuu.

While the story moves around the school year and we witness several school events in it’s heart it is very much character focused. We learn the inner workings of Yuu and Touko and even the supporting characters. There are a lot of scenes where the paneling is symbolic and portrays the character’s feelings – like in the very first chapter where Yuu feels distant from her friends and suddenly it seems like she sits a huge distance away from them.

Every scene and conversation between the characters is meaningful, it either moves the plot forward or tells us something about the character. There are no scenes that are just there for the sake of filler.

While I have read some titles that came closer to depicting real lgbtqia+ people and not just chalk their story up to the yuri/shoujo-ai genres, Bloom Into You is the first one I have read that focuses on main characters who fall on the asexual-aromantic spectrum. It lets Yuu and Touko freely explore their feelings and lets them define it for themselves: what they want from a relationship and what love means to them, if anything. And I love that it is not just the main characters who ponder about these things, we also have a self proclaimed aromantic supporting character and several confirmed lesbians.

I love that even if there is drama prevalent in the story, things get resolved in a satisfactory way and the characters actually talk things out between them. There are some heavy topics and characters going through past traumas but it all gets discussed in a healthy way and shows how they can move forward from it. In the first volume there are some scenes where the question of consent comes up but I really appreciate that these times it actually gets addressed and not just glossed over as I have seen in other manga.

If you want to read a great book with aro/ace characters and carefully crafted storytelling I recommend you start reading all eight volumes and then there is also a spin-off lightnovel with one of the supporting characters. (Has three volumes as of now, illustrations done by the same mangaka).

Oh and before I forget, there is also a gorgeous anime adaptation! It is well worth watching but the ending is a bit more open ended in the anime – at the time it was airing the manga was still running so they had to avoid spoiling the manga’s story. And they even adapted the story into a stage play which seems to come full circle with the in-story school play.

Buy the manga / Kindle available

Buy the anime on Blue Ray

Watch the anime on Netflix

Watch the anime on HiDive

The manga on Goodreads

My review on Goodreads

And if you crave more information on Bloom Into You here is a beautifully written article: Bloom Into You and Exploring Asexuality

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