The Bulletoon Twins offer a partial analysis of Bloom Into You – a compelling story exploring love, sexuality, and identity.
This is it!
Episode 6. We’re (un)officially bringing the Mystery of Love to a close.
And because I have the best little sis ever-!
I’ll let it slide, this time…
Ehehe. So easy. But all joking aside, we’re getting to close the season on one of my favorites. An anime that actually means a lot to me. At least… now it does.
Yagate Kimi ni Naru.
Also known as Bloom Into You! So let’s get started!
And you’re watching Bulletoon!
Bloom Into You: Love Is Messy
Full disclosure. We’ve both read the whole manga – admittedly she made me read it, but…
But we’re only going to talk about the anime here. If you want us to talk about the manga, just let us know!
So. What can be said about this one?
It’s kinda becoming a meme for us to say this, but… well… a lot. And as much as I wanna talk about all of it, there’s just no way we have the time. But that’s kind of the exact things I want to talk about.
Yeah. That inability to cover it all kind of speaks to the larger point, for me. The series is complicated. Because… well… love is complicated.
Oooh. Okay. I see where you’re goin’ with it. Yeah. Good point.
Leeet me explain. Bloom Into You touches on a lot of stuff. The most obvious thing is the exploration of sexuality.
Yeah. I think a lot of people initially wrote it off as just another bit of yuri “fluff,” but it’s a lot more than that.
Right. The thing is, it’s true that the romantic leads in the series are both girls. But while I like that “fluff” – even if I don’t like calling it that – Bloom Into You presents a story that’s waaay more complex than a lot of those stories.
A criticism often thrown around at yuri and shoujo ai – at least that I’ve seen – is that it kind of handwaves the elephant in the room. Which is fine since, ideally, we’d live in a society where those things don’t matter.
Buuut it’s also a little disingenuous and can make a lot of people feel like the struggles they’ve had to endure in their own journey around the subject aren’t being represented.
It’s a tricky thing to navigate. So a lot of stories simply don’t.
One thing that works really well about this series, though, is that it chooses its battles. The struggle they chose to deal with are mostly internal. Things that don’t necessarily come from societal pressures to fit into the norm.
But the stamp of societal norms is still there, right? I mean, that’s the whole reason for a lot of the conflict that Yuu has to face within herself. She loved reading floofy shoujo love stories and wanted a relationship like that. But when a relationship finally fell into her lap, she didn’t know how to feel. In fact, she was put off by the fact that what she felt was… essentially nothing.
Because of all these stories we watch on screen or read on the page, we’re kind of conditioned to think about love a certain way. So when she was faced with someone who actually seemed to love her, and she didn’t feel anything, she got to thinking something was wrong with her.
It’s a really subtle way of including the pressures of society without someone actively trying to get between them.
Then it happened again with Touko and she still didn’t feel anything. Or, perhaps it’d be better to say that at that time, she didn’t know what she was feeling. But it wasn’t what she imagined. And it’s the perfect way to get into Yuu’s conflict of sexuality.
The “but we’re both girls!” thing is there, but it’s less of an objection and more of a question. Because… well… she doesn’t know. She didn’t feel it in Middle School when her friend asked her out. So what now?
I can’t speak to experience or anything like that-
Nor can I… technically.
But at least the anime seems to set up the question for Yuu as to whether or not she might be asexual.
Despite never actually saying it out loud.
The manga… well, you can read that to see the answer it decides to go with, but it’s not really important here.
Either way, it’s something I don’t see in a lot of manga or anime or… hell, media in general. Whether or not Yuu actually is Ace, the question of if she could be and her having to grapple with it is rare.
At this point semantics might get involved so we should maybe point out that asexual and aromantic aren’t the same thing.
They’re neither intrinsically linked, nor mutually exclusive. They can overlap, but you can also have one without the other. Consequently, Aces and Aromantics are perfectly capable of being in relationships. With many of the messy complicated feelings that that implies.
What is Yuu’s relationship with Touko? Well, that’s what she spends the entire series trying to figure out.
But then we look at the other side of this coin. Touko. The show isn’t all about Yuu, even if she’s the character whose eyes we’re experiencing everything through. Touko is a character with baggage. Lot of it.
At first, Yuu is a convenient way for her to offload some of that baggage. She doesn’t want Yuu to fall in love with her, which actually adds a lot to the overall conflict Yuu is feeling.
But a huge part of loving someone else is… well… loving yourself. Something she struggles with as a part of her… I dunno, Imposter Syndrome, perhaps? I’m not a shrink.
Touko doesn’t love herself. She hates herself. So she doesn’t even allow for time to be herself. And that adds so many layers of complication to the relationship. Complication that just doesn’t exist in a lot of other yuri and shoujo ai stories.
There’s really no other way to say it. In the early stages of the story especially, Touko is outright using Yuu.
She’s not abusive or anything, but it’s still extremely unfair and inconsiderate to the girl she’s just left all kinds of confused.
It creates a very real question of whether Touko actually likes Yuu, at first, or if she just sees her as convenient.
There’s frankly evidence to both. You can probably interpret a lot of Touko’s smaller moments as actual attraction. The way she keeps lifting Yuu up. The way she always asks for Yuu’s consent-
After that first kiss, anyway. Which was not okay, just so we’re clear on that.
It all kind of suggests Touko actually is in love with her.
But you could also interpret that the other way. Sure she admits that she doesn’t want Yuu to hate her, but that might just be so she doesn’t end up driving her off and losing out on her one “escape”. The cute stuff, though… I dunno. That one’s hard to deny.
True! I’ve seen that exact look on your face around boys way too many times not to recognize it!
Wha-?! Oi! Keep the focus on the anime, dammit!
Oh? So you’re not going to deny it?
Y-yes I’m gonna deny it, you little- Agh! Anyway! Touko!
Yup! Touko’s feelings about Yuu are really tough to figure out from the anime alone. But what we do know is that the crushing pressure she puts on herself overwhelms those feelings. Which is fair. Because, frankly, humans are like that. Love unfortunately isn’t some magical thing that can UNO Reverse all your other feelings away on its own. Not for… a lot of people, anyway.
As sad as that is. Love is messy because people are messy. If two people can barely understand or come to grips with their own feelings, not just about love, but about the basic human experience, then trying to do the same with a completely separate person is going to be hard.
But that’s what I love about this series. It’s not like it even ends on a conclusive note.
True. The anime leaves off on ground almost as uncertain as where things started.
Yuu has more understanding of her feelings and of Touko, but that understanding isn’t absolute.
And even if it was, she still doesn’t know how to reconcile those feelings with Touko’s.
Even if Yuu doesn’t love Touko, she cares about her. She doesn’t want her to be hurt. Not physically or emotionally. But it’s obvious Touko is hurting and Yuu doesn’t really know how to fix it outside of indulging in their… frankly uneven relationship.
It’s all take and no give on Touko’s part. It’s selfish. And self-destructive. In a way Yuu doesn’t have an answer for. Obviously, Touko needs help. What she’s dealing with, the kinds of thoughts she has, we’re talking about some dark stuff.
I don’t want to go too far into the psychology of Touko, here. It’s… a lot. And I think it’s worth an episode of its own, really.
But the overall point is that Touko’s ridiculously extreme identity crisis outside of their relationship, just makes the actual relationship even messier than it’d already have been with Yuu’s feelings alone.
And while it took me a long time to sort out my feelings about this series-
Thank you. I like that everything isn’t all resolved in a 13-episode arc. I like that it ends on kind of a question mark. Because if it’d resolved itself too neatly, I might’ve just written it off in the end.
Seeing Yuu trying to navigate the question of her own sexuality and, yes, Touko’s suffocating personal trauma was honestly pretty great. I don’t read or watch a lot of yuri or shoujo ai-
Looots of BL, though.
Heehee. But I get what you’re saying. As someone who’s really familiar with the way Yuu feels, it’s honestly pretty special to me that it chose that angle for the story. Or, at least, it feels like it’s representing that angle and it means a lot.
It’s a series that I think just got swept aside pretty quickly and shouldn’t have been. Oh well.
Well, what about you? What’re your thoughts on Yagate Kimi ni Naru? Drop a comment and don’t forget to give that Like Button a zap while you’re down there!
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I’m Riley, bowin’ out!
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Rila – Mocha Vampire