What They Say:
Yuu Koito thought love would be something amazing and magical, but when a male friend asks her to date, she feels nothing. She doesn’t even know how to respond until she overhears the student council president of her new high school, Touko Nanami, turning down a similar request.
With Touko’s help, Yuu manages to let her friend down gracefully, but then Touko confesses that she, herself, is starting to have feelings for Yuu, leaving Yuu in a quandary. Yuu doesn’t think that she’s in love with Touko, but she does feel something. As Yuu joins the Student Council, and she and Touko become closer, her confusion about her feelings only continues to grow. Because you can’t control who you love, or who falls in love with you.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo and the English language dub in the same, both of which are encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The series is one that really is all about the dialogue and ambient music moments as it’s a talkative show with some exposition goals to it. This keeps it from really having to stretch much at all as it plays out with it largely being between two or three characters at a time and rarely a raised voice at that. The mood is well handled by the music that gives it some additional life but it’s not meant to be full of huge swelling moments or anything. What we do get is solid and appropriate for the show at hand and it comes across as a clean and problem free mix throughout, which is exactly what we want.
Originally airing in 2018, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The thirteen episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and four on the second. Animated by Troyca, the show has a very strong design to it overall as it attempts to recreate aspects of the manga and especially the full-color artwork like the covers. It’s a slightly earthy show in some ways but it works its color design well with a real world approach with a slight softness in color design that gives it some warmth. It has a rich palette overall but not one that will jump out in a huge way. Colors maintain a solid feeling throughout and the detail in both designs and backgrounds is really well handled, making it worth pausing to check out how much goes into each of the locations throughout the series.
The packaging for this release comes with a standard sized blu-ray case that holds the two discs against the interior walls where there’s no reversible artwork. The front cover brings us a familiar image of the two girls up close with some good moments of touch between them where you can see the swell of emotion in their eyes in a big way. Framed with all the flowers and light, it’s a little overpowering but it captures that innocence and blossoming aspect well. The back cover continues this framing and puts a lot of text in the middle which is a bit difficult to read with the font used of thin white on black that’s not fully formed, reducing the effectiveness of it. The main visual on the back here is one of wonderful intimacy and mood while the bottom brings us a few shots from the show, a clean looking the extras and production information, and a solid technical grid that makes it clear how the set was put together. No show related extras are included with this release.
The menu design for this release looks to capture some of the innocence and elegance of things in a pretty good way. Each disc goes with different artwork where the first one has the beautiful sunset at school key visual of the two together that really sets the mood. But I also like that the second one is of them just sitting together that’s brighter and more mundane in a way as it shows the colors and style of the series well. The logo is kept to the upper right that’s simple but effective. The navigation is along the left side has the navigation where the black framing of the white gives it the elegance and the navigation has a clean and appealing look as it breaks down episodes by number and title. Everything works smoothly as both the main menu and the pop-up menu, making for a problem-free experience.
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences along with some of the Japanese promos for the show.
Based on the manga of the same name by Nio Nakatani, Bloom Into You is a thirteen-episode series animated by studio Troyca that arrived as part of the fall 2018 season. The manga has seen release by Seven Seas Entertainment for the last couple of years as it began back in 2015 and wrapped up a few weeks ago at eight volumes as of fall 2019. I’d never read the manga but I loved the covers and promotional artwork with what seemed like a series that was committed to the relationship between the two leads. Coming from shonen magazine Dengeki Daioh, the property has done well but hit a natural concluding point because there are some series where you don’t want it to overstay its welcome.
The premise is a familiar one as we’re set in high school and follow two students while touching base on a few of their friends along the way. Yuu is a first-year that is excited to be at this school but working through some of the issues that are part and parcel of who she is. She wants love, she wants to be loved, and she’s very open to it when it comes to others. But she’s never had the right feeling to make it clear that she actually was in love. By contrast, second-year Touko, the student council president, was the type that never felt anything and unlike Yuu, rejected anyone that showed any interest. The two are easy opposites in certain ways but it’s more that they provide the right connecting points where with a bit of trust and honesty they’d be able to really connect with each other in a special way.
The two don’t exactly have a meet-cute at the beginning as it’s Yuu, having been nudged toward helping out the student council, sees Touko as she declines the interest another student has in her. Since Yuu doesn’t say no to requests, it’s a little alien to her and raises her interest in Touko to see how/why she could do something like that. This gets the two to talking a bit since they have such different pieces of relationship views but in doing so it ends up opening up Touko in a way that she hadn’t before. The ease with which we can talk to some people but not others is one that I love exploring and we see how Touko realizes this is a way she’s drawn to Yuu, going so far as to confess to her after just meeting her while also bringing her onto her student council campaign. It’s a bit of baptism by fire for Yuu, and one that comes with some side issues as well, notably in Touko’s friend Sayaka is just as interested in Touko but has kept to being friends because of the fear of expected rejection that she saw everyone else go through.
There are other relationships in the mix that bounce against this one to be sure, but at its core it really is all about Touko and Yuu. We see some of Sayaka in how she realizes that it was her own caution that caused her to lose the chance but she wanted to retain a friend more than chance a lover and losing a friend. It may not be a huge story overall in the series but I liked what we got from Sayaka as the one that could have been. This as a minor piece plays into things from time to time but it allows the show to not have to deal with a large jealousy subplot that could derail things. The thing that could derail events is actually kind of silly but also appropriate for the age in that the student council is set to put on a play after a while and that has everyone working hard on it throughout the season. But it’s the last couple of episodes where it really kicks into gear and gives things an edge of seriousness because of the rise of other feelings that are grinding against the roles that they’re playing. It’s mostly Touko that struggles but the reality is that her struggles makes things harder for everyone else.
The season as a whole works through a lot of familiar things that high school shows do – just at a quieter pace overall and with the relationship between the two moving at its own pace. We get things like sports day happening and the student council study camp toward the end run that brings its own issues into play with everyone traveling. If you watch enough of these shows you can see the structure of it all easily. But where it succeeds within this is with the execution of it all as we’re able to delve into the character growth and understanding. The love that’s blossoming between these two is definitely exciting to watch because it feels realistic in its understated way that draws me in. As much as I enjoy watching a sparkling bright love with all the flame and heat that it can produce, I enjoy these just as much with the confiding, the holding of hands, the earnest expressions, the simple kisses. While I crave that anime will give us some greater and more varied lesbian relationships as time goes on, something as beautifully executed as this right now is just fantastic.
While a good deal of the payoff is in the smaller scenes toward the end of simple closeness, it’s a rare show that can really bring that kind of closeness to reality and make it feel real. Bloom Into You spends a good bit of time between Yuu and Touko yet at the end there’s this kind of ethereal feeling where you remember that love can change on a dime without notice and that you’re left wondering just how deep and real it is. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the relationship unfold between these two and how the supporting characters that got involved over time dealt with it as well, particularly with Sayaka. Studio Troyca put together a beautiful looking show that knows how to bring emotion to the forefront. And that was doubled down with the cast, especially with just how great Tia Ballard and Luci Christian’s performances are. This is a meaningful series for many and Sentai did very right by it from start to finish, making it an easy recommendation.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Japanese Promos
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: December 17th, 2019
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.