Friday, October 9, 2020

#IReadsYou Review: BLUE FLAG Volume 2


[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

TRANSLATION: Adrienne Beck
LETTERS: Annaliese Christman
EDITOR: Marlene First
ISBN: 978-1-9747-1302-8; paperback (June 2020); Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
224pp, B&W, $12.99 US, $17.99 CAN, £9.99 UK

Ao no Flag is a high school romance manga written and drawn by Kaito.  The manga was serialized on the online manga magazine, Shonen Jump+, from February 2017 to April 2020.  VIZ Media is publishing Ao no Flag as a paperback graphic novel series, entitled Blue Flag, under its “VIZ Signature” imprint.

Blue Flag focuses on an unassuming high school student named Taichi Ichinose.  It is his senior year at Aohama High School, and he finds himself in the same class as shy Futaba Kuze, of whom he has conflicted feelings.  Taichi and Futaba begin to fall in love, but each has a same-sex best friend – Taichi's Toma Mita and Futaba's Masumi Itachi – who are in love with them.

As Blue Flag, Vol. 2 (Chapters 6 to 12) opens, it is time for Aohama High's school festival.  Toma accepts the position of cheer squad captain on the condition that Taichi and Futaba participate.  The problems are that Taichi does not want to participate, and that Futaba is deathly afraid of performing a cheer in front of the student body.  Later, Masumi makes a series of surprising confessions to Taichi about her “boyfriend.”  Plus, Toma, the captain of the school's baseball team, looks for success at the high school summer tournament

[This volume includes the bonus story, “After the Festival.”]

THE LOWDOWN:  The Blue Flag manga is not any one thing.  It is a mixture of genres and themes:  romance, high school drama, coming-of-age, shonen, LGBTQ, and light comedy.

Blue Flag Graphic Novel Volume 2 is my first experience with the series.  The series is so easy to read that readers do not have to read the first volume to understand the story.  I would, however, recommend that due to the ending of Vol. 2 readers at least start the series with the second volume and not start with the third volume.

Kaito presents characters that are likable, even lovable, simply because the four leads have genuinely different personalities.  That makes the desire, yearning, self-doubt, and internal and external conflict feel real because the characters are truly seeing things from their own different points of view.  This is a high school romance that has dramatic heft.  As usual, readers get a superb English translation from Adrienne Beck that makes every thing resonate with the reader.  Also as usual, Annaliese Christman's lettering sets the tone for individual moments as well as for larger scenes.

I am utterly shocked by how much I like this second volume of Blue Flag.  Honestly, I didn't expect much because of the title and Vol. 2's cover illustration.  Neither hints at how powerful the story is.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of coming-of-age stories and of LGBTQ-themed manga will want to read the “VIZ Signature” title Blue Flag.

10 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2020 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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