As a child Fumi Manjome was prone to tears and she tended to cry easily and she relied on her best friend Akira Okudaira to help soothe her when she just couldn’t get them to stop before her family moved which split the formally inseparable best friends. Now as a young woman just entering high school she has returned to her old home and finds that her situation hasn’t much changed as she still cries somewhat easily but now she may have a reason that almost everyone can recognize as she found that the person she was in a relationship with is actually marrying someone else leaving Fumi feeling lost, confused and very hurt. Fate throws her a line though as she comes across her old friend Akira while experiencing a moment of need which provides Fumi with her old friend who can serve as a sounding board to try to talk with some things about as Fumi is a bit closed off when it comes to expressing her own wants and needs to most people. With Akira by her side Fumi finds the strength to move forward and find a new love…but is this one going to last or will the various forces around and within pull the new pair apart apart? Whatever the answer Fumi finds, she can feel safe in trying to move ahead as her friend Akira will always back Fumi up, even if Akira doesn’t always understand the entire situation but will it be in solace this that Fumi is able to discover that which is most precious to her?
The idea of lesbian (or yuri) relationships in anime isn’t remotely new as the idea has been present in any number of shows for a number of years but the treatment of the issue in Sweet Blue Flowers is a bit unique in the medium. Often the idea of same sex relationships (both male and female) tend to either be hinted at strongly (or sometimes just enough to let fans of such material draw their own conclusions) while played a bit on the hidden side or as the comic relief or titillation in some of the more blatant series that like to use the idea of boy’s or girl’s love as a draw to bring in fans of such material and often play this up with bits of racy images (fanservice) to get fans imagination (among other parts) aroused. Sweet Blue Flowers on the other hand feels like the opposite of this as it uses a single racy shot in the opening and then almost completely avoids most of the physical depictions that many other series reveal in to sell their popularity as it concentrates on the individuals.
Instead of trying to use suggestive (or explicit) images the series works to sell itself as a character piece focusing more on the emotions and hearts of its characters to get its message across as it strives to weave a tale that gives the viewer some insight into the personalities and struggles of the individuals that some other series gloss over as it tries to show the hurt that also comes with love, particularly love that will be unrequited. In that the story doesn’t really have to be one about lesbianism directly, much of what it covers (though not all) deals little with material not exclusive to just a same sex relationship or all the difficulties that can come with that (though most of the cast here is fairly on the accepting side of things) which allows for the material to present its young women in a manner that speaks to the trials of their hearts that anyone who has ever been in love can relate to with the moments of doubt that can creep in and the loves that will never be returned that are probably familiar to many as well. It really is here that the story most exercises the meat of its material as the various activities that the cast participate in are secondary at best to making sure that the main cast members get a chance in some manner or another to express their current emotions either through dialogue or action, even when that expression is of their confusion at times with where they are in their current relationships.
That said the series is one that probably isn’t going to resonate with everyone as the heavy reliance on characters makes for a series that is overfilled with moments that help express a desire to create an ambience to the work that on occasion leaves some of the more secondary characters twisting in the wind as the work creating the emotional environment can leave less available time to flush them out and the high number of characters to relatively short episode count (11) can create a sense that there was so much left unsaid, though in fairness some of that helps play into the atmosphere as well and bring a reality toward it as well. If the series has a failing it is in its decision to try to set a rather leisurely pace that allows so much unsaid and done to hang in the air that when the cast does get around to working on things those portions suddenly feel rushed and crowded and the ending also isn’t going to thrill everyone as it continues to leave so much up in the air. Still, with its brilliant character creations that allow one to sense both the character’s loves and losses and an amazing, soft yet moving artwork style that really brings the power of the moments out. Sweet Blue Flowers presents a wonderful tale of young women in love who sometimes find they may not be loving as wisely as they might wish but that the heart is going to go where it will and that true friends will be there to support them along the way, and even if those friends don’t always understand all of the weight in a given situation the empathy and caring is still genuine and it creates a tale that is as sweet in final measure as the English title promises.