~by Saemi Yorita
Shouzo Mitani swore he wasn't coming back to his hometown until he was at least 30, but when his father is hospitalized for a back injury he returns home to help run the family construction business. Not much has changed since he's been away except for his old classmate Nanami--the once chubby, dim-witted kid has grown up to be quite the looker. He's still a little socially awkward and has a difficult time reading, but Nanami is brilliant when it comes to numbers and electrical work. Everyone seems to get along well with him. Shouzo comes to value Nanami's skills and friendship to a much greater extent then he ever did before he left town. Nanami, too, has grown close to Shouzo, becoming quite fond of him, but even still Nanami is trying to hid a painful secret and it's starting to take its toll.
At first, I found Nanami to be annoying although by the end of the first volume of Brilliant Blue he was endeared to me. Just like the people in his hometown, I couldn't help but like him and want to look out for him. Even Shouzo quickly succumbs to his charm. Their relationship develops slowly, but nicely. Nanami is easily manipulated and influenced by other people but Shouzo realizes this and is careful how he approaches Nanami; he is genuinely concerned for his well-being. Both men are very honest although in different ways: Nanami is innocent and takes things at face value while Shouzo has the tendency to just blurt out whatever is on his mind.
Yorita has done many things well with the first volume of Brilliant Blue. While remaining consistent in character design, the style of the artwork changes to suit the feel of the story--it is amusing when silly, serious when called for, and romantic when needed. Although I didn't find the artwork to be particularly stunning, it was very effective and conveyed the story's emotions quite well. Yorita also captures perfectly the sort of claustrophobia that can come from living in a small, close-knit community where everyone knows your business, sometimes even before you do. (I understand exactly where Shouzo is coming from, having grown up in a rural village myself.) I enjoyed the first volume of Brilliant Blue and found the story to be rather charming. Shouzo and Nanami's relationship doesn't happen in a vacuum and the two must consider the reactions of their families, friends, and the wider community--something Shouzo in particular is painfully aware of. I am looking forward to reading the second and final volume to see just where the pair end up.