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Animation-Nation: ‘Blue Period’

“Before I started painting, I thought painting was a magic that only a selected few could use.”

Art: one of the most beautiful things that we were given on this earth. As it evolved over time, we have come to see art in many different forms and expressions. However, there’s this strange notion behind it. That the only people who create art are chosen, those gifted with talents and nothing more. Like everything else in life, art is something that requires hard work, with talent only taking you so far. That is what Yatora Yaguchi learns in “Blue Period.”

“Blue Period,” based on the manga by Tsubasa Yamaguchi, directed by Koji Masunari and Katsuya Asano, follows Yatora Yaguchi. Yaguchi is an excellent high school student, but deals with the feeling of emptiness in his life. It is not until he sees a painting at his school’s art club that he pursues the visual arts, deciding to try (and get accepted) into the Tokyo University of the Arts (TUA) after he graduates.

Being an art major myself, I can say that this show is one the best depictions of showing the life of an artist, and some of their uprisings as well. At the beginning of the show Yaguchi is a prime example of what most people assume the life of an artist would be like. When seeing a painting, he raves about how he envies someone that was born with such talent. While artists understand that people are trying to compliment them, it is important to acknowledge that talent only took them so far. To create something artists can be proud of, requires hours of practice and dedication, something that Yaguchi finds out quickly when he has a change of heart and decides to pursue art himself.

“Blue Period” also does a great job of depicting the harsh realities of being an artist. One of the biggest challenges Yaguchi faces is telling his parents how he wants to pursue art in college. Now thankfully, my parents were supportive in my pursuits of being an art major; however, there are plenty of people that I have met who struggle with having any kind of support in their path of becoming an artist. We hear the same questions of concern all the time. “How will you make money?” “What kind of work will you find?” “Will anyone buy your art?” Believe me, we are aware of the concerns, but we do it because it’s our passion and that is what this show exemplifies.

When watching “Blue Period” as an artist, I can say with confidence that the show educates the audience, along with the main character, the various artistic techniques. With the author of the manga graduating from art school herself, she made sure to make this story as accurate as possible. Making sure each technique is right, while also showing the struggles many artists face trying to consistently create great pieces of work. The only critique I have of this show is that the pacing is too fast, as they skipped out on a lot of Yaguchi’s development of an artist compared to the manga. I would assume it was so they could fit the first part of the story in 12 episodes.

Art, while not math or science, is still physically and mentally demanding. It is not something that can be rushed or learned quickly. It requires patience, practice, strong will and the motivation to create something beautiful. Artists go through the same struggles as Yaguchi, but we all do it because it’s something we love. And, at the end, being able to see something we created makes all the hard work worth while

Title: Blue Period

Directors: Koji Masunari,, Katsuya Asano

Starring: Johnny Yong Bosch

Streaming: Netflix

Shamrocks: 4 out of 5

Contact Gabriel Zarazua at gzarazua@nd.edu

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Book Nook: ‘Dune,’ two very different narratives

My summer project was reading Frank Herbert’s “Dune.”

The 1965 science fiction epic immersed me in its semi-supernatural world of complex space politics, family ties and religion. It focuses on Paul Atreides and his family who oversee a planet much like Earth but are soon forced by the interplanetary Emperor to move to the desert planet of Arrakis. They face several obstacles on this planet because of it formerly being “ruled” by their rival family, the Harkonnens. Though it has a slow start, the book soon becomes suspenseful and exciting as its protagonists navigate layers of intricate schemes devised by both their enemies and their allies.

The 2021 film adaptation of the first half of the novel is… different. It’s good, but viewers should not watch the movie expecting it to be the same as the book. The movie focuses on its cinematic elements, at which, obviously, it excels. The soundtrack, composed by Hans Zimmer, is beautiful; it creates suspense, sets the mood and captures the intensity of many scenes. The costume choices and the casting were on point, and the visuals, especially the vast landscapes, are stunning. The film completely immerses the viewer. I would recommend seeing it, especially in a theatre, because it truly is a work of art. However, unlike the book, I would never recommend it for the plot.

The film leaves out a lot of important details that make the novel a science fiction classic. Adapting “Dune” is hard for a number of reasons. After a string of bad adaptations, it was considered a novel nearly impossible to create for a long time. The 2021 adaptation is by far the best but suffers from some of the same problems as its predecessors.  

Because of the novel’s length and interweaving subplots, it’s very difficult to form a cohesive plot for a film. Splitting it into a two part movie instead of adapting it all at once is a smart choice — especially considering the first half of the novel, in both its plot and its characters, feels vastly different from the second half due to a jump in time.

The most glaring issue with the movie is that it fails to create a sense of the conflict between the Harkonnens and the Atreides. Much of this is conveyed in the novel through complex internal monologues, which are understandably difficult to adapt. Many of the tense conversations between characters that pertain to this conflict would seem tame if the reader wasn’t informed of the characters’ machinations through the omniscient narrator. Just adding this dialogue to the movie does not help viewers understand the veiled messages and hidden meanings that characters in the novel deciphered in their internal monologues from a few words of conversation.

The central conflict between the Harkonnens and the Atreides expands to include larger organizations in the second half of the novel. It is possible that the conflict was kept vague because of this shift, however, it leaves the movie feeling slow. The plot was moving at random without being driven by a central element.

The complex politics also felt glossed over. For example, the Bene Gesserit is a pseudo-religious political organization key to the novel’s plot. Its schemes have been drawn out for hundreds of years and have significant influence on every aspect of politics and Paul Atreides’ development, as he may or may not be critical to their end goal of finding a prophet-like figure. Most of what makes them important is barely mentioned in the movie. They come off as more of a shady cult than a powerful organization.

You should see “Dune” for its carefully crafted cinematic experience, however, don’t expect much from the plot.

Contact Caitlin Brannigan at cbrannig@nd.edu