#1 Unlikeable (main) cast
Sweet Blue Flowers is a 2009 romance anime created by J.C. Staff under director Kenichi Kasai (Bakuman, Amanchu). The story follows Fumi Manjoume; a timid girl who has just started high school.
Fumi is, frankly, a crybaby. She is quick to upset and heavily dependent on the (emotional) support of those around her, no matter how casual the relationship. That’s already not the most endearing of personalities, but things get worse from there. Fumi is also in love. She has feelings for her cousin Chizu, who—putting aside the issue of incest—is also older than her and already has a boyfriend. When Chizu announces that she is getting married, Fumi becomes jealous bordering on spiteful.
She is not a likeable protagonist at all, but not in a way that feels intentional. We’re meant to feel sympathetic towards her and I just couldn’t muster that, even as the story developed further. Her personality was just too off-putting and her growth throughout does little to redeem that.
However, Fumi is not the only character in Sweet Blue Flowers with issues like this. Several other characters were similarly unenjoyable. Kyouko Ikumi initially seems pretty cool thanks to her Sailor Uranus-like aura and mature demeanor. Until she turns out to be a whimpering simp who keeps harassing the person she likes, even though Kyouko herself is already engaged.
There is also Shinobu Okudaira; the brother of one of Fumi’s closest friends who plays a significant role throughout Sweet Blue Flowers. He has a sister complex bordering on the obsessive. He desperately clings to memories of when his sister was more affectionate towards him as a kid, and actively tries to sabotage her social life. This is mainly played for laughs, but struck me as pathetic.
#2 Uneventful romance
If anything, Sweet Blue Flowers got me thinking about the nature of romantic stories. There is a lot of talk about what makes romances toxic, unbalanced, or problematic. Valid arguments in real-life, but also something you kinda want in a story. A challenge to overcome, drama to set off some sparks. Otherwise you end up with a bland love story lacking in excitement. Something like Sweet Blue Flowers.
Romance is something that just kinda slides in and out of the plot with little resistance. Fumi meets another girl and the two just kinda decide to start dating. There is no process towards the two falling in love; it just kinda happens right away and they roll with it.
Of course more does happen from there because we got 8 more episodes to fill, but all of it feels dispassionate. The emotions of the characters are always muted. You don’t get the impression that they really care about anything that is going on. That they have actual passion for their lovers or that their problems are really a big deal.
This makes the romance feel weak. Like it’s just stumbling around, trying to find a direction. Not helping this impression at all is that the anime excludes the last portion of the original manga. This leaves the story without an overall resolution, making it even more unsatisfying.
This is a personal point, so sorry if this seems nitpicky: I just can’t stand watching characters in an anime perform theater. Watching voice actors acting out characters that are themselves acting in theater just irritates me so much. The multiple layers of hammed-up performances combined with my general dislike for theater make it a theme that I’d rather avoid.
To my dismay, large parts of Sweet Blue Flowers revolve around a drama club putting on a play. It takes up a big chunk of the anime, including a full 2 episodes for the actual performance. The cut content from the manga also includes another story arc with yet another play at its center.
It’s not the worst theater storyline I have seen in anime, but it sure was painful to sit through. If you share this pet peeve of mine, then beware.
More like this…
Candy Boy: Yuri anime with dashes of incest.
Glass Mask: Anime about theater.
Wotakoi: Josei romance anime about a seemingly-mismatched couple.