Sweet Blue Flowers – Review

Japanese Title: Aoi Hana (Not to be confused with Ano Hana)

 

Similar: Maria Watches Over Us

Whispered Words

 

Watched in: Japanese

Genre: Yuri Romance

Length: 11 episodes.

 

Positives:

  • Nice backgrounds.

Negatives:

  • Terrible characters void of meaningful emotion in empty relationships.
  • Mary-Sue character praised as a goddess.
  • Stiff animations.
  • Lifeless voice work delivers unnatural dialogue.
  • Dull start, middle, and end.
  • Repetitive music.
  • Thinks Wuthering Heights is good.

Even with all the above, one still can’t grasp the drivel that is Sweet Blue Flowers. It’s so bad that I wonder how a studio green lit this loathsome rubbish. One look at the script would turn even the most novice of readers into twitching masses of ooze from the sputum this show vomited all over them.

It’s supposed to be about the budding romance and troubled relationships of teenage lesbian girls, yet it is so far from it; oh, you have no idea. The lead characters are supposed to be Fumi the spineless, and her brunette childhood friend, Akira, who is a friendly girl and stands up for others. I say supposed to be because a supporting character, what’s-her-name, girl with short black hair, Mary-Sue… She is in the anime more than Akira and at least as much, if not more so, than Fumi.

Fumi suffers heartbreak when her cousin marries a man. They were in a secret sexual relationship, but this cousin must be at least five years older for her to be getting married – remember, Fumi is about fifteen at this point and we are never told how long ago this relationship started. To get over it, Fumi falls instantly in love with Mary-Sue wench, they break-up after what is supposed to pass for a relationship, and we are now almost done with the show. I can’t spoil anything, for nothing happens! They fall in ‘serious’ love, have empty conversations, looking dead all the while, split for…what amounts to nothing, and act heartbroken. Again, act, because it’s so lifeless and pathetic that I experienced more emotion playing Hearts on the computer while watching this. (Gah, Queen of Spades on second clubs drop!)

Meanwhile, Akira does…nothing. Every girl in two neighbouring all-girls schools (one of them Catholic) turn lesbian for bitchy Mary-Sue wench – I jest you not, she’s a total jackass, even to the girl she ‘loves,’ and still everyone wets their knickers at the sight of her. You are told that she’s oh-so-amazing at everything, but it’s never shown. Even her family, who are high-society, don’t raise a single objection when their daughter announces she’s a lesbian nor do they have a problem with her trying to have an affair with her teacher – of course they don’t care that the teacher and seventeenish-year-old bitchy Mary-Sue trull-wench see each other regularly at school either. Oh yes, she did move away, after rumours started, all the way to – drum-roll please – next door!

We still aren’t done. It’s perfectly normal for fifteen-year-old catholic school girls to be engaged to adult men. What was that? I just made that up? No, even the school acknowledges this. In the advertisement for the school play of the vomit inducing novel Wuthering Heights, it states that the only males who can attend must be family or fiancés of the girls. Nothing is addressed, nothing is questioned; just like the farcical relationships, we see no conflict. No one has a problem with anything, no matter how sordid – especially if it involves bitchy demimondaine Mary-Sue trull-wench.

Look, the problem has nothing to do with them being lesbians. The truth is that no one, not even a lesbian herself, would give no reaction to their daughter being one (never mind the affair with a teacher). It’s out of the norm. You don’t bring in such subject matter without giving the attention and conflict it deserves. It’s pathetic. This reminds me of tokenism, where a minority or gay guy is forced into a plot to give the illusion of being progressive, when in reality it is nothing more than insulting.

So what do they do if not overcome conflict? Nothing, in fact…the dialogue is mere filler on irrelevant rubbish such as the school’s value on height and how it makes you tough, for some reason. (Don’t look at me, I don’t get it either.) Not a single conversation is natural. It’s all so rigid and slow like these girls have trouble understanding a word spoken. The girls cry at the drop of a hat. We have no real characters, little personality and no depth. The most exciting event for them is seeing the school chapel and tearoom.

Voice work is just as stimulating with its monotone drones, sad sack vocals and unnatural speech. Only Akira differs, but is still bland. Most scenes have no music, making the dialogue feel even slower…

Sweet Blue Flowers does not have a gram of potential. In the end, we are left with atrocious characters, no development, nothing redeemable, and let’s not forget, super bitchy demimondaine Mary-Sue trull-wench.

Art – Medium

A filter of mist hangs over to give this anime a faded look. While the backgrounds look nice in colour sketch art, they have no movement to them with immobile characters – no nod, no moving mouth in speech, no waver of wind, nothing. Something as simple as a shift in light and shadow on trees when they rustle could have been a huge improvement. Characters don’t even project shadows (a patch the size of your foot doesn’t count).

Sound – Very Low

Music consists of slow piano pieces – a few tracks or many, not sure, since they all sound the same. String instruments occasionally take over, but they don’t add another layer. Dead acting.

Story – Very Low

What more is there to say?

Overall Quality – Very Low

Recommendation: Not worth your time in the least. Sweet Blue Flowers is eleven episodes too long. Forget I ever mentioned it.

(Request reviews here. Find out more about the rating system here.)

 

Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive: None.

Negative:

Atrocious PlotAwful DialogueInduces StupidityLacks ConflictMary SueNo DevelopmentRubbish Major CharactersShallowTorture MusicUseless Side Cast

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4 thoughts on “Sweet Blue Flowers – Review”

  1. I don’t even know if the same person writes all of this reviews. While I really liked most of the others I read here I can’t agree with this one.

    Dear Reviewer!

    Aoi Hana has indeed weak points, but it’s clear for me that you totally missed:

    – cultural differences between Japan and USA – apparent e. g. when you talk about ‘engagements to high school girls’ or general LGBT themes

    – the entire point of the anime, mainly due to ignorance of the mentioned differences. You completely miswatched the character of Sugimoto Yasuko – ‘Mary Sue’ is the last description anyone should apply to her.

    I know that I’m accusing you of ‘watching the series wrong’, but I sincerely believe the anime flew over your head. If it didn’t it’s quite probable you still wouldn’t like it, but maybe at least your review would be fair and accurate. This one isn’t.

    Like

    1. Dear Reader!

      It’s perfectly fine for you to disagree with my review and I thank you for reading my work.

      I am willing to be proven wrong on something, but you are going to have to present counterpoints. So far, you have merely said I ‘watched it wrong’ because I missed the cultural differences and Yasuko isn’t a Mary Sue.

      Present me with which cultural differences specifically would have improved the relationships, where ten years or more separate partners, and for how the lesbian theme was portrayed well in Japan. As for Yasuko, you are going to have to present something solid for why she isn’t a Mary Sue; I could not find a single scene that showed otherwise. They may have told us her purpose was to be something different, but until they show this, the intent is meaningless.

      Thank you for reading.

      Like

      1. Dear Reviewer!

        Your main point seems to be aimed against Yasuko. You are repeatedly claiming that she is Mary Sue. And you were even kind enough to define the notoriously unclear term in the following words:

        “A character whether male or female, often the protagonist, who is idealized, too perfect without any real flaws and is loved by all just because the writer says so. Clumsiness is not a real flaw.”

        Ok, so you are claiming that Yasuko is too perfect while simultaneously you noticed that she is “a total jackass” or a “wench”. Yes, she is, and it’s exactly the point of her character that she is:

        – immature
        – self-absorbed
        – doesn’t care for others feelings
        – intentionally unlikeable
        – doesn’t treat her relationship seriously

        It’s very far from typical ‘Mary-Sue’ traits. Yes, she is viewed as ‘perfect’, but not by the anime but by some characters (not all however – e.g her family isn’t as charmed by her as others). She’s clearly not ‘Mary Sue’, neither according to your definition nor to descriptions taken from TV Tropes. Additionally – her ‘virtues’, relative to the content of the series, are the superficial ones (good at sports, handsome, good student) and her fatal flaws are from the realm of relationships – and the anime is about the latter.

        So when you are awarding Aoi Hana the badge of ‘Mary Sue’ you are simply wrong.

        “Present me with which cultural differences specifically would have improved the relationships, where ten years or more separate partners”

        And here I believe prejudicial attitude have taken the better of you. I don’t want to fight over if ‘dating high-school girls’ is ethical or not. Observe simply that in many parts of the world this is relatively normal – as opposed to the USA, which given your comments I strongly suspect you are from. It’s more or less relatively normal where I come from and it’s apparently even more so relatively normal in Japan. So when you are ranting about the show on the grounds that ‘yasuko has affair with a teacher’ or that ‘school girls are dating adult men’ you are judging it by your own moral values alone, by criteria which have nothing to do with the anime itself. Sorry, but that’s bad reviewing.

        About ‘lesbian themes’ and alleged ‘lack of conflict’ in the anime. Actually, I don’t really know how to start, because you are apparently the author of ‘yuri & shoujo-ai manga guide’, so you should definitely be familiar how Japanese society differs in reception of ‘lesbians’, what is ‘Class-S relationship’ and what tropes are usually employed in standard yuri works. And at least you should pay attention to the anime you criticize.

        Yet you wrote the following:

        “The truth is that no one, not even a lesbian herself, would give no reaction to their daughter being one (never mind the affair with a teacher). It’s out of the norm. You don’t bring in such subject matter without giving the attention and conflict it deserves. It’s pathetic”

        You see – there are both general reason why her family reacts that way (and it has to do with Japanese culture) and a specific one (her family knows about her actual love life). You completely disregard it (or don’t even notice it) and you apparently expect some sappy US-based tear-inducing drama about ‘hardships of being a lesbian’.

        Lastly, you complain that ‘nothing happens in this anime’. Which strikes me as very weird, because it’s the romance show which:

        – starts with the break-up of sexual relationship
        – proceeds to the new relationship and through all of its phases to another break-up
        – sets up the third relationship

        and that’s all in 11 episodes. I watched anime romance TV series which accomplished much less than that in much longer run – e. g. in Toradora it took 20+ episodes for characters to enter into relationship, in Lovely Complex it took Risa something around 8 episodes to realize she is in love with Ootani, around 18 to start a relationship with him, in Kimi ni Todoke it took entire 20+ episodes season for characters to simply realize they are in love with each other. Your ‘nothing happens’ accusation is simply baseless, at least compared to these shows. And if you can’t see how what happens there is refreshingly different from many other anime you are basically blind.

        Rest assured I understand why one could not like Aoi Hana. And the show indeed pulls a very questionable trick by suggesting it’s about Fumi x Akira romance, while actually doing something entirely different.

        But your review doesn’t address the series flaws, it’s mainly biased and self-righteous ranting against things distantly related to the plot.

        I’m sorry, if I sound aggressive, so I want to say that I really like your (other) reviews, your site and the way you are writing about (other) anime.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Dear reader!

      (Sorry for the delayed reply – work.) I appreciate your well thought out response to my challenge.

      Alright, we need to back up a moment to the criteria for a character ‘weakness.’ As I alluded to in my comment on clumsiness as a fake weakness, (so many Mary-Sues have this “weakness”) the weakness has to have an impact on the story or the character arc for it to be a weakness. For example, if you had a character whose weakness was alcoholism, yet the alcoholism had no impact on the story, if it didn’t cost the character anything, then it doesn’t count as a meaningful weakness. And that is where Yasuko’s weaknesses fall.

      Yes, you are right about her immaturity, self-absorption, etc. and you are right about these being far from typical Mary-Sue traits, but these weaknesses have no consequences to her. Everyone still loves her, no matter how poorly she treats others. There is not a word of gossip behind her back – in an all-girls school, of all places, where classroom politics and gossip are rampant in real life. She doesn’t suffer because of her actions. All the story had to do was take away something she loved, give her some adversity to face. They didn’t, and for this reason, despite her negative traits, she still falls into Mary-Sue territory.

      She wasn’t a bad idea as a character. It would have been great to see what happens to a character that has the popularity, the adoration and then squanders it by being a bitch to everyone. In fact, if they gave her that conflict, she would be the best protagonist for this anime. I firmly believe there are no bad story ideas, just poor execution – a few changes could have avoided the latter.

      Next, onto the cultural differences.

      First, I am not from the USA – I don’t write in American English, for one. I grew up on three different continents, none of them the Americas.

      Yes, dating high school girls is quite normal in many cultures. I think even in the US high school seniors with university juniors is common enough. That’s not the issue here.

      These girls range from fifteen to eighteen years of age and are engaged to grown men in the workforce up to their late twenties – and remember, engaged, not dating, but engaged in high school. Even in Japan, where an age gap receives lower stigma, that is illegal with any of these girls who are below seventeen – more than half the school. These men would be jailed.

      Matters would be a little different if the engagements were political – their parents made an agreement on the union at birth and when the girl is old enough, they would be married, but the relationship isn’t a ‘real’ relationship at any point. However, even if we accept the political angle, several new problems arise:
      – If the engagements were political, these guys wouldn’t care about attending an irrelevant high school play. They have nothing to gain.
      – The anime suggests a lot of girls are engaged. I could understand one or two, but for it to be so prevalent, screams lazy writing. (I don’t know why they included this plot point at all; remove the engagement remarks and nothing really changes.)
      – There would still be gossip and conflict regardless of political angles, just of a different sort.

      One final factor points to bad writing on this topic – these girls are lesbians, all of them. One would think that at least one of them would have something to say, some conflict against being engaged to a man, regardless of age. Again, the writers gave us nothing. This glaring anomaly is simply accepted by everyone.

      Regarding the affair with a teacher, it too is illegal. And yet, we hardly have any conflict surrounding this, never mind that the solution was to move just next door. My objection isn’t the presence of the affair – in the US alone one hears of a new student-teacher affair every week. My objection is to the lack of conflict, the lack of anything surrounding this plot point. So no, I am not judging based on my morals, but on how they handle the situation, which was very poorly. (Look to my RahXephon and Please Teacher reviews with age gaps – I didn’t object there. My next manga review Dengeki Daisy also has one, though I haven’t finished reading yet for final comments.)

      Next, the lesbian themes.

      You highlighted the very paragraph that counters your criticism. I never said I wanted a sappy US drama about the hardships of being a lesbian. I said I wanted something, anything on the subject. This anime tries to convince us it’s about girls in love in the real world, yet nothing happens to them – not even a “You’re a lesbian? Huh, cool, me too!” The writing suggests every woman in the world of Aoi Hana is a lesbian while still pitching itself as a real world setting. It would have been interesting to see an alternate world where all women are lesbians (I reviewed a manga along those lines – all males wiped out by a disease), but that’s not what they presented. Once more, Aoi Hana isn’t a bad idea, just poorly executed.

      Lastly, on the lack of happenings.

      My comments saying ‘nothing happens’ wasn’t on the events themselves, but within these events. Okay, we start with the break-up, which is a common and effective opening for a romance – good. Then they proceed to a new relationship, but nothing happens within the new relationship; they move between phases without conflict to drive the phases. Why do the phases change? What causes the phases to change? How do the characters feel between phases? We never know because nothing happens. Yes, there is progression at a macro level (relationship one to two to three); however, the micro level is empty.
      I have not seen Toradora or Lovely Complex yet, though they are on the list. Toradora has a reputation of going nowhere, from what I’ve heard – will see for myself. Regardless, Toradora could be the worst anime there is and it would still not excuse Aoi Hana.

      In the end, you have not convinced me; however, never allow my comments to affect your enjoyment of the anime – any anime.

      I know your aggression comes from passion, which is perfectly understandable – I was aggressive in my review, to say the least.

      Thank you for reading this and my other work. If you want to present another counter post, I am more than happy to read it. This has been most engaging.

      Like

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