VIZ recently added Takako Shimura’s 2005 manga series “Sweet Blue Flowers” to its Signature collection.

The story follows Akira Okudaira as she starts her freshman year of high school at Fujigaya Women’s Academy. As she gets on the train, she bumps into her childhood friend Fumi who she hasn’t seen in about a decade. Even though the two go to different schools, they spend time to catch up and reconnect. While her dear friend shows a kind smile, Akira’s keen eyes know something is bothering her. Even though she makes her friend’s well being an obligation, the reason Fumi’s heart aches might be more complicated than she imagined.

“Sweet Blue Flowers” is a poignant story that deserves to be under the Signature imprint. Shimura presents this complex drama in a palpable way with clean illustrations. She makes Akira such an observant and understanding guide to the readers and she is such a rare type of character to see in a slice-of-life drama, providing a lot of attentive care to her best friend. The first year of high school might be a terrifying experience but starting it after getting your heart crushed and having anxiety over your sexuality can increase the uneasiness. It is an overwhelming amount of dread but Akira is a blessing to Fumi as being her headstrong support. While those two are in the spotlight, the story opens up to show the other complex romances of the students. For those that know Shimura’s previous hit work “Wandering Son” will find a familial feel of dramatic tension but spread out through the large cast of characters.

VIZ Signatures are releasing the series as two-volume omnibus books, meaning the originally eight-volume series will be compressed into four books. The first two are out on shelves with Volume Three coming in March. For more information, visit VIZ’s site. Publisher Fantagraphics released hardcover books of “Wandering Son” and included online previews. Crunchyroll has both “Wandering Son” and “Sweet Blue Flowers” anime adaptations available for streaming.

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