What will Yuu's budding high school life bring her?

Bloom Into YouTitle: Bloom Into You (Yagate Kimi ni Naru)
Genre: Romance, Yuri, School Life
Publisher: Kadokawa (JP), Seven Seas (US)
Story/Artist: Nakatani Nio
Translator: Jennifer McKeon
Serialized in: Comic Dengeki Daioh
Original Release Date: January 3, 2017

Yuu wants her world to sparkle brightly like a shoujo manga. But the cherry blossoms have faded, high school is underway, and Yuu suspects deep down that her life never will shine that brightly. Untethered and indecisive about what to do with her new high school life, she helps out the student council before the school elections and for a moment she thinks she’s found a kindred soul in the upper-class officer Nanami. She stumbles upon Nanami rejecting a love confession and stating that she will never accept any of them and Yuu feels a little relief: someone like her whose heart doesn’t get excited when confessed to! But when Nanami says she might be falling for Yuu, Yuu is left struggling to find her place in this new school.

I didn’t read any reviews for Bloom Into You before I started reading it so I was surprised to realize that Yuu comes off as rather ace (asexual), and then further pleasantly surprised that other (non-ace I believe) manga reviewers were saying the same thing! Yuu wants to find romance and is somewhat frustrated that its just not happening — even when a boy she’s known for years confesses to her she doesn’t feel even the slightest pitter-patter of her heart.

Yuu also has the same non-reaction when Nanami starts putting the moves on her; Yuu experiments with hand-holding and such and while Nanami certainly becomes flustered, something Yuu notices, again she’s just not feeling anything! This rings very true to my own aromantic ace experience, wanting/expecting a relationship to occur and simply not feeling anything that people talk about, even when the conditions are seemingly perfect. I would love for Yuu to fall somewhere on the ace spectrum since that would be so unusual for a manga character.

Alas I doubt that Nakatani Nio meant to write Yuu as an ace character, especially in light of her bonus comic at the end of this volume talking about how she was approached to specifically do a yuri series (she amusedly notes that she’s gotten a reputation as a yuri artist, even though she’s never done an actual yuri series before). Also, the title is Bloom Into You which, in English at least, seems like a reference to the “late bloomer” idea of someone who only finds love later in life than their cohorts (ironically, something that many aces are told only to realize later than nope, this wasn’t the situation at all!).

I do personally think that there are a couple ways to do a yuri series with an ace character. You could have a biromantic or homoromantic character in a female x female relationship or you could have a demi-romantic or even demi-sexual character, a character who only develops a romantic and/or sexual attachment to someone after knowing them for a long while (although it would be hard to tell if the character was supposed to be actually demi or if this was another iteration in one of manga’s favorite tropes, “if it’s you it’s okay!”).

Regardless of how Bloom Into You‘s central romance plays out, I am rather enamored of the story so far. Yuu and Nanami are the only really fleshed out characters so far but they’re both multi-faceted people and the way Yuu finds what she wants to do in high school is a really great moment. Their school is also a co-ed school and, while no guy has a particularly large role in the story so far, that does mix things up in the deluge of “yuritopia” yuri series released so far this year.

Finally, Bloom Into You feels like a story that won’t be just about romance as Yuu’s struggles so far have been an equal mix of “what do I want to do with my high school life” and “what are my feelings for Nanami” which I personally find much more interesting than a story focused around romance alone. Bloom Into You feels like a thoughtful tale of many different aspects of high school life and I hope that it continues that wide-ranging focus going forward.