Noshiro is used to changing schools and being the odd man out, so when he sees his new classmate Sanada being shunned by their class, he steps in to end Sanada’s loneliness. But things are more complicated than Noshiro realizes, and befriending Sanada sets him on a thorny path that challenges his assumptions and his views of himself. Sanada is rumored to be a “homo” and the rumors, which he doesn’t bother to refute, have left him alone while his classmates snicker behind his back. At first Noshiro assumes the rumors are made up to bully Sanada, but as the boys become closer, Sanada confides that he is gay. He tells Noshiro that he’s fine being left alone and doesn’t need friends. But Noshiro is doggedly determined to find a place in Kou’s life, even if he isn’t sure why.
That Blue Sky Feeling is a great book with characters and emotions that feel genuine. There are well-observed moments, such as the way Noshiro transitions from using “homo,” which is treated in the manga as a slur, to calling Sanada gay, or the beautiful scene in which Noshiro realizes he’s hurt Sanada’s feelings by denying part of his identity and apologizes. Little by little, it becomes obvious to the reader, and everyone else in the book, that Noshiro is falling for Sanada. How long it will take Noshiro to figure out that his feelings are more than just friendly is half the fun. The only slightly squicky element is Sanada’s older ex-boyfriend, a man of 26. Sanada and his classmates are around 16 or 17 and they look even younger, making the relationship, even though it’s over, feel creepy.
Despite that, the book is for the most part sweet and charming. The art is perfectly suited to an earnest coming-of-age tale. Many readers will also appreciate the fact that there are different body types in the book. Sanada might be the typical waif-like bishonen, but Noshiro is a stocky lad who excels at judo. It’s rare to find anything but super-skinny bodies represented in yaoi, and the varied body types add to the book’s feeling of heartfelt realism. Recommended.
publisher: Viz Media
Art: Coma Hashii