Bloom Into You has been getting positive attention lately thanks to its anime adaptation. But what about the original manga? When I reviewed the first volume I found it very enjoyable, thanks largely to creator Nakatani Nio’s lovely art and focus on the characters’ interpersonal relationships. Vol. 2, published by Seven Seas Entertainment, picks up after the results of the student council election. Nanami tries to revive the annual school play tradition much to Yuu’s chagrin, and some of the supporting characters become more prominent. How does this installment compare to the series’ debut? Is it good?
Visually, this volume delivers all of the previous installment’s best qualities and more. Nio’s line-work is still very clean and polished, and the inking is beautiful. It’s worth noting that the contrasts between values in this volume are much better than in Vol. 1. Nio uses more actual solid black here, so the lighter grays don’t blend together as much. The page compositions are also well-done; they’re simple and legible while still being varied enough to avoid feeling monotonous. The flow of action across panels is usually easy to follow, and the background patterns are lovely. The characters’ facial expressions are also well-rendered, and their body languages help convey their personalities. All in all, Nio does a fantastic job on the artwork.
The character work in this volume is also strong. Yuu generally acts as the narrator, so we get direct access to her thoughts and changing emotions. It’s her emotional journey that drives the most interesting parts of the plot. Her relationship with Nanami is complicated, and it only becomes more so as her feelings get more muddled. The two characters grow in parallel, adapting to the other’s expectations while remaining unaware of the other’s shifting desires. These arcs are very believable, as Nio does a great job conveying the characters’ voices while pacing out their growth slowly.
As important as Nio’s self-reflection is, my favorite character work in this volume is the fleshing out of Nanami’s backstory. We gain new insight into her past that puts her current temperament and actions into a whole new light, which helps make her a much more dynamic character than she was in Vol. 1. On the downside, Nio doesn’t receive as much character development that’s actually focused on her. While we get brief glimpses of her family and home life, most of her personal drama revolves around her relationship with Nanami. This isn’t a huge problem, but it would be nice to see Nio grow more in her own right in future installments.
Some of the supporting characters get an increase in page-time in this volume, and it’s to good effect. As young women who are romantically interested in other women, Yuu and Nanami naturally have to deal with a number of societal pressures and expectations. Said expectations are made more tangible through the pair’s interactions with their fellow student council members. Saeki and Maki play particularly interesting roles. Saeki appears jealous of Yuu and Nanami’s close bond, and is sure to ramp up the tension and conflict in future volumes. Maki, meanwhile, is the first supporting character to become explicitly aware that the main pair’s relationship might not be strictly platonic, so the way he handles that information will have major ramifications going forward.
Overall, Bloom Into You Vol. 2 is yet another great installment in the series. It takes all of the prior volume’s strengths and heightens them, making for a great character-driven story. The visuals are also awesome, with lovely inking and patterns. The main con is just that Yuu hasn’t actually gotten much character exploration that isn’t related to her feelings about Nanami. Nonetheless, this series remains well worth reading.
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