After reading the first volume of Saemi Yorita's Brilliant Blue I knew I would want to finish Nanami and Shouzo's story. Fortunately for me, I had the opportunity to read a review copy of the second and final book. Brilliant Blue, Volume 2 was originally published in Japan in 2005, a year after the first volume came out. English readers were lucky to have both books of the series released only a few months apart in 2009 by Digital Manga under their newer DokiDoki imprint. While I wasn't blown away by the first book, it was still a solid start to the series and I enjoyed it--I cared enough about the characters to want to see how things turned out for them. In addition, the small town aspect of the story continued to appeal to me, having grown up in a rural village myself.
Initially, Shouzo returned to his hometown to take care of the family construction business while his father recovered from a back injury. He had no intention of staying any longer than that required. Of course, he didn't intend on falling in love with Nanami, either. And it turns out that Nanami has become quite fond of Shouzo as well. So he's decided to stick around, at least for now, but realizes pursuing Nanami will be difficult at best. Living in a small town he knows their relationship will be impossible to keep secret from the neighbors, let alone their families. Already people are beginning to wonder why the two men spend so much of their time together outside of work.
In some ways, Shouzo's behaviour towards Nanami is disconcertingly reminiscent to that of Douwaki from the first volume, something that is even remarked upon by another character. Fortunately he's not nearly as selfish as Douwaki and truly cares for Nanami and his well-being. One thing that Yorita continues to nail spot on is what it's like to live in a small town where everyone knows your business and rumors can spread like wildfire. Also stressed is the importance of family. Nanami's relationship with his brothers is particularly well done and Shouzo's parents are just great. But being so close to one's family can also be problematic at times. While Yorita does a fantastic job with the portrayal of real relationships beyond just the main couple, I don't find her artwork to be singularly exceptional. Which is not to say that it's bad, because it's not. In fact, she has some very nice and effective panel and page layouts that convey the emotional elements of the story quite well and her chibis are incredibly cute but not sickeningly so.
While technically the second volume of Brilliant Blue could be read apart from the first, it really works better as a continuation of the story rather than a stand alone work. This is particularly evident in the development of Nanami and Shouzo's relationship--without considering what has come before it would feel rushed. Even so, I was surprised to see how quickly their families accepted them as a couple (I will admit that was glad though). Although the main story concludes rather suddenly, a lengthy side story finishes out the volume. It's actually quite nice, taking place about six months later when Nanami and Shouzo's relationship is more firmly established and matured. Once again, I wasn't blown away by Brilliant Blue but it is a heartfelt story that I thoroughly enjoyed. Yorita has a knack for creating emotionally authentic relationships for her characters.