Departing from last week’s emotional and introspective episode, Blue Period episode 11 is full of the kind of drama and pressure you’d expect from a shonen tournament arc. It’s day one of the second art exam; the outcome of which will determine Yatora’s career path as an artist. But as he collapses on the stairs, he wonders if this is the end for him.
A test of willpower
Stress can take a tremendous toll on a person. While many of Yatora’s peers have succumbed to the pressure of art school (one even being hospitalised for an eating disorder), Yatora himself has been holding on through sheer willpower. But after the copious studying and art-making he’s endured, his body has had enough. His stress has manifested itself as severe hives and crippling eye pain and headaches. With the help of Yotasuke and Kuwana he’s able to make it to his exam room, but the 5 hours of painting ahead of him are going to be arduous.
But we’re also reminded of just how lucky Yatora is to have the opportunity to take part in the second TUA exam, especially given the notoriously low passing rate of the first exam. As they come to pick up their art supplies from prep school we get a glimpse at how a few of Yatora’s not so lucky peers are fairing. Of these students, it’s Sakuraba who’s the most devastated. Having taken the TUA exam a total of three times, she’s decided to give up on going to university and work full-time instead.
I’m glad that Blue Period showed the experiences of students such as Sakuraba, as it’s the unfortunate reality for many art school hopefuls. As much as determination and tenacity are noble ideals, they don’t pay the bills. For people like Sakuraba, full-time employment outside of art is the most realistic and secure option. And that’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
The assignment for the second exam turns out to be a nude model. This works in Yatora’s favour considering his naked self-portrait exercise from last week’s episode. First, Yatora must think of how to interpret the prompt in a way that makes him stand out from other applicants. But before he can come up with a concrete idea he finds himself waking up, having slept through the first few hours of the exam. Though this is a far from ideal way to start off, it’s worth noting that Yatora often produces his best work when pushed to his limits.
A bold decision
The theme Yatora chooses for his piece – nudity as a person’s true colours – is not the most inventive idea. However, the methods he utilises to create it just might catch the examiner’s attention. Since Yatora doesn’t have time to add depth to his work by layering paint, he instead uses turpentine to remove layers of paint – thus creating the nude by subtraction. In the end, he decides that his piece should be a reflection of his own personal feelings about nudity. Yuka views their naked self as something to be decorated with beautiful clothing. But for Yatora nakedness is something pathetic, that should be hidden. Much like how he arms himself with reasoning to avoid negativity, his clothes too are a sort of armour; meant to hide his true self.
Despite this breakthrough however, Yatora is still concerned his artwork won’t stand out. His solution to this dilemma? To pour turpentine all over the sketchbook he’ll submit with his painting. I’m not sure what his goal is here, but it just might be the kind of pretentious, unconventional idea that art critics go crazy for. Day two of the exam is almost over. Whether Yatora is able to complete his painting without any other complications, only time will tell.
Episode 11 of Blue Period is available to watch on Netflix. The next episode will air on January 1.
All images via Netflix.
©︎ Tsubasa Yamaguchi, Kodansha/Blue Period Production Committee