Brimming with themes of introspection, self-discovery and acceptance, this week’s episode 10 of Blue Period just might be the series’ most poignant yet. As the second exam looms over Yatora and his stress is at an all-time high, he makes an uncharacteristically impulsive decision and takes off to the seaside with Yuka.
A lesson in self-acceptance
As much as this series is about the joys and difficulties of becoming an artist, I’d say it’s equally about the value of human connection. Whether through his art or his worldview, Yatora is constantly being shaped by those around him. Having to examine his own thoughts and emotions for the sake of his art has allowed Yatora to open up in so many ways, and learn more; not only about himself but his friends and peers too. While he may not have been emotionally mature enough to understand or support Yuka in their struggles previously, he’s changed a lot since then.
Yatora and Yuka’s impromptu seaside trip takes them to a quaint business hotel. It’s in the fading afternoon light of their hotel room that the two share their most vulnerable and significant conversation yet. Proclaiming it as an exercise of self-discovery, Yuka suggests that Yatora draw himself nude. Naturally, Yatora refuses to do it alone.
More than anatomy or eroticism (or any other artistic avenue that could be explored), this drawing exercise serves as a lesson about self-acceptance. Yatora compares his pale and slender body to an eraser with hair – small and pathetic. But being confronted with their flawed, naked forms allows the pair open up about their personal weaknesses and inner turmoil.
The pressure to conform
Yatora seems less guarded around Yuka – as if Yuka’s own self-assuredness gives him the confidence he needs to drop his usual façade. But his perception of Yuka as a free spirit is far from reality. He’s blissfully unaware of the concessions that Yuka has had to make in order to live their life authentically. So he’s shocked to find out that, despite appearances, Yuka also feels tremendous pressure to conform.
Much like Yatora, Yuka made decisions based on other people’s expectations, as we saw in last week’s episode. But beyond their career path, Yuka’s obsession with other people’s opinions also affects the way they define themself. Discussing romantic feelings towards a girl from middle school, Yuka confesses to Yatora that they’re bisexual. Because of their feminine appearance, however, Yuka asserts that it would be simpler if they were only attracted to men. Yatora asks Yuka if this is why they’ve been referring to themself as a “she”. And judging from Yuka’s expression, he’s right. It seems that Yuka is non-binary or genderfluid, but has been labelling themself as a woman for the convenience of everyone else. Yatora tells Yuka that while he used to view them as a male cross-dresser, he now knows that’s not the case. It’s a beautifully tender scene, and my favorite from the series thus far.
The second exam begins
But Yatora’s not the only one with misconceptions. Yuka also fails to realize just how self-conscious and insecure Yatora is. Still concerned with not having enough natural talent to compete with his peers, Yatora uses his studiousness as a weapon. He works hard not only so he can improve his skills, but to prove to others that pursuing art wasn’t a mistake. Despite his immense progress, he’s still far from immune to caring about what other people think. Just like Yuka, Yatora often feels as if he has to put on a mask. Although their experiences are different, their feelings are the same.
The two of them leave the trip refreshed and full of resolve. Yatora’s persistence and dedication towards his art gives Yuka the courage they need to break free from their family’s expectations. And Yatora walks away having learned more about himself through his discussions with Yuka – something which will surely aid him in his future artworks.
The second exam – a three-day affair – is about to begin. Yatora needs all the mental strength he can muster right now. But it appears that the pressure is catching up to him. Not only are his stress-induced hives worsening, but he’s now suffering from severe pain in his eyes. The episode ends melodramatically, with Yatora collapsing on the stairs on the way to the exam room. We’ll have to wait until next episode to see if Yatora will be able to pick himself up.
Episode 10 of Blue Period is available to watch on Netflix. The next episode will air on January 1. If you enjoyed episode 10, don’t forget to vote for it in our Anime of the Week poll!
All images via Netflix.
©︎ Tsubasa Yamaguchi, Kodansha/Blue Period Production Committee