If you watch anime, you know there are shockingly few centered around the artist’s journey. With all these artists making impactful stories every season, you expect to see a story or two relating back to their experience. Blue Period is the epitome of those expectations.
The Blue Period anime is hitting me with relatable experiences so hard it’s like I’m in a boxing match. In comes the straight – BOOM – a relatable drawing exercise. Next comes the hook – POW – some impactful composition advice. I’m absolutely blown away.
If you already draw, the main character, Yaturo, feels like he steps right into your shoes. And if you’re just starting, you can learn a lot from his experience.
Right from the start, Yatora is a relatable character. You don’t have to be an artist to remember what it’s like to not know what you’re passionate about. I didn’t figure out that I wanted to be an artist until I was about to graduate college. Then, much like Yatora, I was exposed to an endless roller coaster of understanding, then realizing I knew next to nothing, and then trying to quickly fill the gaps in my knowledge. It happens even today (though not quite at the same brisk pace it once did).
Likely the hardest thing you will face, which Blue Period captures so well, is the emotional toll of the artist’s journey. Every decision and piece of art that you make is tied to your heart. You leave yourself vulnerable when you create. Coming to terms with things like failure and a hard critique can be a struggle, especially as a young budding artist.
Before I became aware of the Blue Period manga, Bakuman was my favorite manga that related to the artist’s journey. While it has its own unique and incredible story, the Blue period manga is more grounded to the experience of becoming an artist.
Bakuman is a lovely snapshot of the mangaka experience, butBlue Period is more relatable to artists as a whole. It’s how most of you start, despite what career path you inevitably choose. It’s what makes Yatora such a relatable character – you relate not just to him finding his passion but his experiences as well.
After a few years of drawing, I hit an art block in my training. I felt stuck. There are two things you can do when you feel stuck:
1. Give up and bask in the feeling of failure.
2. Switch it up.
I chose the latter in an extreme sort of way and chose to goto an atelier school in Sweden. Yatora went to cram school in his city and yet, we had many similar experiences. For example, we both took part in a common fundamental exercise – drawing from white plaster casts.
Commonly called Bargue drawings, this is a method of drawing that trains your skill of observation and is widely used in academic and atelier settings. Picasso himself copied Bargue’s plate work and many people use the training today, even in digital paintings. This method spans across generations of artists!
If Picasso was alive today, and enjoyed anime, he too would connect with Yatora’s experience as an artist.
Yatora is not your typical Shonen hero. He’s not a genius at art or has some special skill other than being himself. He makes quick strides because he applies way more effort than the students around him. He creates 30drawings when the assignment was a fraction of that and he’s in the studio working alone when everyone has gone to do other things.
You don’t have to be a workaholic, but it’s good to know that the speed of your progress is determined by the effort you put in.
The Blue Period anime is an authentic experience. Even the teachers are fully realized characters intent on molding the growing artists. Icould write down almost 20 lessons from each of the currently four episodes airing but let me start with a few of the most impactful:
· Compliment skill over talent (talent implies they put in no effort)
· Surround yourself with people who encourage you
· Every artist is comparing themselves to another artist
· More effort will always give you faster progress
· Observe a variety of art to understand more about it
· Composition provides the impact to your art
This is only from the Blue Period anime. I’ve heard the manga has even more. I plan to read it while I wait (impatiently) for season two. What you can expect from Blue Period is depth; depth of knowledge, emotion, and story. There is so much to take away from the Blue Period anime, I would need hundreds of articles to cover it all.
You only need to observe and learn from the parts that are most related to your own experience. Then maybe come back to it a couple yearslater when season three rolls around and see if you can relate to anything else. You might learn something you didn’t expect.
I’m a seasoned student as an artist. I’ve been to numerous schools, practiced a large variety of techniques and mediums, and been exposed to a wealth of knowledge and expertise from the best (and worst) the industry has to offer. Blue Period is like watching flashes of my past while also reminding me I’ve learned enough to make my next attempt to be a success.
If you want to become a successful artist, take the lessons of Blue Period to heart. Be kind to yourself. If you haven’t felt it firsthand, you’ll see through the lens of Yatora, that the art journey is fraught with hardship. If you can make it to the “end”, you can create truly beautiful works of art that fill you with an endless supply of love and gratitude.
You should know, however, there is no real “end” or finish line to becoming an artist. You define the terms of success that you want to achieve. Even if you become a professional and work at Disney or Netflix, the artist in you will always want to go higher.
Blue Period can inspire you and teach you how to get better at drawing. If that’s something you’re interested in, and you like anime, go check it out now!