hello it’s sayaka saeki loving hours let’s talk about bloom into you
(more below the break because this post is gonna get longgg)
Bloom Into You is definitely up there as one of my all-time favorite anime/manga and it’s always at the top of my recommendation list. Everything about the plot/characters is just done so well and it all comes together to create a really touching story about self-discovery and self-love. For me personally, Sayaka Saeki sits at the core of that. Her journey throughout the manga really resonates with me and I see a lot of my younger self in her.
(i should probably preface this by saying that at the time of writing this, i have yet to read the regarding sayaka saeki novels. maybe i’ll make a follow-up post when i finally get my hands on them. but for now i’m only going off of what happens in the manga)
Right off the bat, Sayaka’s backstory instantly grabbed me. She had a girlfriend in middle school who pulled the “it was just a phase” card on her, ending the relationship on a sour note.
I immediately felt a connection to Sayaka after this, because I have a friend who went through the same thing. Like, almost word for word the exact same situation as Sayaka. And I think a lot of young lgbtq+ people have had similar experiences, or at the very least have been told similar things when we were growing up and discovering our identities. Stuff like “it’s just a phase”, “you’ll meet a guy/girl eventually”, etc is really common for us to hear, and because of that Sayaka’s experience in middle school is something that nearly all of us in the lgbtq+ community can relate to in some way.
When entering high school, Sayaka decides to switch schools and start going to the co-ed school the series takes place at. Her choice to specifically go to a co-ed high school is an extremely important detail, because it adds another factor to this than her just wanting to get away from her ex. As a matter of fact, Bloom Into You being set in a co-ed high school in the first place is incredibly significant.
Not wanting to encounter her ex at school is definitely part of Sayaka’s decision to transfer, but her going from an all-girls school to a co-ed school clearly reveals the seeds of internal homophobia that were sown by her middle school relationship/break-up. Her choice is fueled by that whole “well maybe I just think I’m gay because I haven’t interacted with a lot of boys yet” mind set that I think a lot of us in the lgbtq+ community are all-too-familiar with. (i definitely am; i didn’t have any close male friends until i was in college and i remember questioning my identity because of that. surprise tho i still like women)
Taking a step back to talk about Bloom Into You as a whole, the fact that the main characters attend a co-ed high school is one of the things that sets it apart from most other yuri series. The majority of yuri works about girls in high school tend to be set in all-girls schools and within the series’ universe there seem to be no guys present anywhere except for someone’s little brother or a brief mention of someone’s dad. Again, this reinforces the idea that “they only think they like each other because they haven’t met the right guy yet”. Bloom Into You completely flips that logic on its head. Yes, most of the main cast and side characters are girls, but they do regularly interact with male friends/peers their own age and still end up falling in love with other girls. Sayaka even moved to this school based on that exact “meet more boys” mentality and still finds herself with a big ol’ crush on Touko. I don’t think I really realized just how important the setting of Bloom Into You was until I got to Sayaka’s backstory.
Early in the story, Sayaka and friends go to a cafe where they have a chance encounter with one of their teachers, Riko Hakozaki. Sayaka’s gaydar starts a-tinglin’ when she sees Miyako, the cafe’s owner, and Riko together, and she guesses (correctly) that the two of them are a couple.
Later on, she decides to go to the cafe when it’s mostly empty and ask Miyako about their relationship directly. With little hesitation, Miyako confidently tells Sayaka that yes, she and Riko are girlfriends.
This first interaction between Sayaka and Miyako is easily my favorite scene in Bloom Into You (yes, it even tops the confrontation with Sayaka’s ex that everyone knows and loves). For the first time in her life, Sayaka finally has someone there to validate the feelings she’s tried to push away for so long. It’s a super eye-opening and emotional moment for her, and I think the anime adaptation captures that even better than the manga did.
The manga mostly depicts Sayaka’s surprise when she hears Miyako’s answer. In the anime, her reaction is similar but there’s more layers to it. I especially like the way her eyes light up when she witnesses Miyako’s confidence. Within just a few seconds her feelings of shock, awe, validation, and curiosity are all on full display.
I also really love Miyako’s reaction here, too. The second she picks up on the situation she slips into support mode. Just took one look at this baby gay and went “yep I’m adopting you now”. Plus, she doesn’t just give Sayaka advice for the future, she also starts casual conversation with her about her crush. It’s really great that Miyako establishes herself as someone Sayaka can go to whether she’s looking for serious relationship/lgbtq+ identity advice or she just wants to talk about cute girls for a bit. She isn’t strictly an advisor or mentor, she’s a friend, too.
It’s great to have people your own age to talk to about your lgbtq+ hangups and worries, but it’s just as amazing and helpful to have someone older who’s already gone through the things you are currently experiencing and can provide evidence to the statement “it gets better”. It’s a reassurance that your feelings are valid and that it’s okay if you haven’t got everything all figured out yet. You will figure it out eventually, and until then someone will be there to support you and listen to you if you want to talk about anything. This is especially key to Sayaka’s character and development. Among her friends and fellow students, Sayaka tends to come off as mature and wise beyond her years, and a lot of the time she ends up being the voice of reason in a group. She’s built her friendship with Touko around supporting her in whatever way she can, and to that extent she rarely talks in detail about herself so as to not cause trouble for her or anyone else. She ends up being a part of everyone else’s support system, and now she needs someone who can act as a support for her. And that’s exactly what Miyako provides for her.
The inclusion of Sayaka and Miyako’s friendship, as well as Riko and Miyako’s relationship, is yet another way that Bloom Into You breaks away from stereotypes found in a lot of yuri. It didn’t immediately hit me that you hardly see multiple different generations of wlw couples within the same story in most yuri; I only really started to think about it more recently. Most of the time you see two high schoolers or two adults, you never get the age groups interacting with each other (I think Wandering Son is maybe the only other anime/manga I can think of off the top of my head that has that kind of dynamic). And with two high schoolers you run into the whole “it’s just a phase/havent met a guy yet” thing that I went on about previously. With two adults the vibe typically becomes “18+ ADULTS ONLY EXPLICIT CONTENT” and there’s a lot more focus on the sexual aspects of the relationship. You either enforce the idea that lgbtq+ identities/relationships are childish/not real or that lgbtq+ themes as a whole are somehow inappropriate and not for youthful eyes. Bloom Into You shows Riko and Miyako in a healthy, loving, non-sexualized relationship and establishes a positive connection between Miyako and Sayaka, simultaneously shutting down both of those stigmas revolving around the yuri genre.
Sayaka and Miyako’s interactions throughout the rest of Bloom Into You are among the highlights of the series for me, and not just because of their significance within the context of the yuri genre like I discussed above. Sayaka’s character arc in general hits home for me because it touches on so many aspects of the lgbtq+ experience. The internalized fear of your own feelings, denying a part of yourself due to uncertainty, the joy that comes with finding others like you who will listen to you and help you when you have doubts, I know what all of that feels like. Seeing her with Miyako reminds me of being with my own friends and how sometimes we’re there to educate and motivate each other whereas other times we can just have fun being gay disasters together. Bloom Into You is one of the first yuri I’ve read/watched that really nails all of this. It just touches me on a personal level that not a lot of other series have.
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Could you write something about someone from Andrew’s past, like someone he fooled around with / had some type of relationship with in juvie, meeting the foxes?
Hello anon!! I seriously love this prompt, I think it can go so many different ways than what I chose to do with it. I'm really sorry for the wait, this has been in my inbox for a very long time now. This is also a little shorter than some other requests I've done, not quite drabble length but shorter than a typical one-shot I'd do, so apologies for that as well. Still, I hope you enjoy!!
Word Count: 3,030 | Rated: T | Mentions of handjobs/blowjobs
Andrew preferred to spend days off sleeping in and ignoring the world. It wasn't often that the Foxes could have them, especially after the year they'd just had, so time like this was never wasted. The best days Andrew had were the ones when Neil would take the day off as well, not going off for a run in the morning or to do anything exy related with Kevin. The best way to wake up was to see Neil's still-sleeping face, relaxed against a pillow and breathing softly.
The sun had risen what felt like hours ago, and Andrew had woken up as the first light had peeked through the blinds to their room. He'd spent that time staring at Neil's face and dozing once in a while. Kevin had gotten up long ago, thankfully not saying anything to rouse either of his roommates, and left them in silence. There were noises coming from the rest of the room, a few soft clangs of cups and silverware as Kevin got himself breakfast, but other than that, it was quiet.
Andrew continued to study Neil's face for a moment, taking in the mess his auburn curls had become during sleep. Neil didn't toss-and-turn, but he'd shift his head on the pillow a lot, trading off which side of his face was on it. There were a few faint lines on his skin from the pillowcase, his lips were red and parted as he breathed, and his entire body was relaxed. Neil was beautiful at every time of the day, but there was something special about seeing him asleep.
He trusted Andrew. It showed in how he let them sleep in the same bed, just the same way Andrew knew it showed his own trust that he allowed it as well.
The arm trapped under the pillow Neil's head rested on had long since fallen asleep, but Andrew knew he wasn't going to be moving it. The rest of his body was too comfortable, and though the pins-and-needles feeling wasn't pleasant, it was something he could ignore for the moment, giving Neil a few more minutes of sleep. Eventually, Neil took a deep breath, eyes slowly blinking open as he woke up.
"Morning," Neil whispered, his voice raspy. He raised his head after a moment, allowing Andrew to slip his arm from under the pillow and try to shake some feeling back into it. Neil snorted at the sight, laying his head back down. "Time?"
"Eight," Andrew responded.
"Still time," Neil mumbled, starting to sit up. "The others wanted to go for brunch today."
The idea of brunch wasn't a bad one, especially on a day off, but Andrew wasn't sure he wanted to spend it with the Foxes. He was sure in that Neil would be fine with any choice Andrew made, but he also knew that if Neil wanted to go he would. He was inviting Andrew along, not demanding it. An option with a clear 'yes' or 'no'.
"Where?" Andrew asked, moving so that Neil could climb out of the bottom bunk, heading towards his dresser. Neil had worn some gray sweatpants and his PSU hoodie to sleep last night and was choosing a different set of sweatpants to wear today. But he wasn't wearing the same pants for three days in a row, so Andrew had to begrudgingly admit in his mind that this was progress.
"Not Sweeties," Neil said, frowning as he thought and glancing over his shoulder. "I can't remember. Some other diner."
"It's brunch," Neil said, grabbing his soap and pausing next to the bed. "Do you want to go?"
Andrew thought for another moment. Neil stood there while he did, just waiting for what Andrew would say. "Yes," he decided, the idea of non-burnt pancakes for breakfast an appealing one. "Go shower."
"I was going to," Neil huffed, walking out the door.
After a few more minutes, Andrew got himself out of bed and changed while the dorm room was empty. He put on some jeans, a black turtleneck and his armbands, slipping on some fuzzy socks and walking to the kitchenette, where he got to work on some coffee. Kevin was sitting on their couch, the TV on and playing something from the history channel. By the time Andrew's coffee was ready, Neil had finished his shower, his hair still damp and a dark coppery color. He poured himself some juice while Andrew mixed some creamer into his coffee, the color more milky than black.
"Kevin," Neil called, somehow dragging Kevin's attention away from the TV. "Where's everyone going for brunch?"
Kevin shrugged. "How should I know?"
Neil put his empty glass down and took a step towards Andrew. "I'll be back in a second," he said, as if Andrew needed to know that - no, he did need to know that. Somehow, Neil had picked up on Andrew hating every second he didn't know where Neil was, or at the very least when he was leaving. It reminded him too much of the time they'd gotten separated and he'd only found Neil's duffle bag on the asphalt. But now, Neil went out of his way to tell Andrew every time he was leaving, whether that was in person or via text. Andrew has yet to be surprised by Neil disappearing again.
He nodded in response, putting his mug down and looking Neil's way when a hand was brought in his line of sight. Neil was holding it in offer, which Andrew took to just brush his fingers against the calloused skin of Neil's palm, going back to his coffee when he was done. It was as much PDA as they'd ever do, Andrew was sure, because just brushing fingers sent tingles through his body. He'd never been touched that gently, before.
But he'd been doing a lot of firsts with Neil, who was the first one Andrew had let in even remotely. In the past, he'd kept it nothing but physical. People like Roland had been okay with that, but Andrew remembered a few people since juvie that had been upset.
He watched Neil leave the room out of the corners of his eyes, slowly sipping on his coffee and deciding not to think about Neil anymore. He wandered over to the couch and sat down next to Kevin, deciding it was a much better use of his time to complain about whatever he was watching and demanding that Kevin disprove every conspiracy theory he could think of. Because by now Kevin knew Andrew was only doing it to get a rise out of him, but he couldn't resist proving someone wrong.
Neil walked back into the dorm when Kevin was in the middle of gathering his thoughts, thankfully sparing him from arguing about the existence of lizard people that run the government. Neil didn't seem shocked or worried about the conversation, just letting the two know that everyone else was ready to head to some diner other than Sweeties for brunch. With that, they got ready and headed to the place. Aaron wasn't going to ride with them(and when they arrived, they found he hadn't come at all), and Nicky had met up with someone the night before. He got his own ride to the diner, leaving just Andrew, Kevin and Neil in the Maserati.
The school year wasn't over just yet, but none of the upperclassmen were trying to hide that this was a 'last get together' before graduation. Renee smiled genuinely when Andrew got out of the Maserati, a light shining too brightly in her eyes. Andrew did his best to scowl her way, but there was no way to deny that he was going to...well, Bee had said he was going to miss her, but Andrew didn't miss people. He already had Renee's number and the a-okay to call her for sparing matches whenever he wanted it.
He ignored her look and followed Neil into the diner, where Dan had managed to get them a large booth that was big enough to fit everyone. There were small cups of water and silverware rolled into napkins on the right side of colorful menus set out on the table. Andrew sat next to Renee in the booth, leaving the seat on his left open for Neil, who sat with one foot on the side of the seat, like he was prepared to spring away. Andrew wondered if he even noticed he did that.
There was a little bit of small talk made that Andrew ignored in favor of figuring out which pancake stack he wanted to order. The diner had a large order of chocolate chip pancakes that sounded good, even though Andrew was sure that was for more than one person. But he could eat that, and the fact that there were sprinkles on top of the whipped cream in the picture was calling to him.
"Hello," someone said, "I'm Patrick, I'll - Andrew?"
Andrew had already recognized the voice. It was a bit deeper in pitch, but hard to mistake, and he knew the face he'd see when he looked up. Patrick McKenzie had grown, puberty obviously doing wonders to his body, finally letting him grow into his limbs. His hair was a bit darker, eyes still the same brown, but he was obviously different. Everyone else around the table seemed shocked to silence.
"Patrick," Andrew said back.
"Hey," Patrick said, voice a little too hesitant. He was still staring at Andrew, as though he was noticing all the changes Andrew had gone through as well. It was enough for everyone else to pick up on, especially - and infuriatingly - Nicky.
"Who's this, Andrew?" Nicky asked, smiling too widely to be an innocent question.
Before Andrew could shut Nicky down, Patrick started talking. "Oh, I'm Patrick. I knew Andrew in juvie."
"Oh," Nicky said, smiling at Andrew.
"Your boyfriend from juvie is our waiter?" Allison asked, looking Patrick up and down.
"No," both Andrew and Patrick said at the same time. Almost surprisingly, Patrick had nearly the same energy in his shut down of the question as Andrew did. Patrick had a lot of false bravado when in juvie, slowly growing out of it as time went on, but he'd clearly grown in more ways than one.
More silence fell around them. "Small world," Allison mumbled, glancing back down at her menu.
"Um," Patrick said, pulling out a small flip notebook. "What can I get you?"
Orders went more smoothly, and Andrew managed to keep from looking at Neil until Patrick had left. He looked over, expecting to see a frown or something on Neil's face, but there was...nothing. Neil just talked to Matt on the other end of the booth about something that Andrew couldn't care less about, trying to find a negative reaction that just wasn't there.
He didn't know how to feel about it. In his mind, Neil should be upset to see one of Andrew's past partners - which was the best way Andrew could refer to Patrick, who'd been one of a few boys he'd tried giving a consensual handjob or blowjob to. Patrick had been the only one that didn't try to fight back against Andrew's hands pinning his wrists to walls, so Andrew let him stick around for longer. They'd gone their separate ways when Andrew left juvie, and Andrew hadn't cared enough about Patrick to make the effort to remember him.
It was a weird relief to see him working and alive, Andrew supposed, but he was more interested in Neil's not-reaction. Of which he was still doing.
It was all Andrew could think about when Patrick came back with their food. He finished the mountain of pancakes that made Kevin look as though he wanted to hurl, fiddling with a spoon while the rest of the team finished their meals. All throughout it, no matter how many times anyone tried to pry, Andrew didn't talk to them about Patrick, and Neil didn't ask at all. Maybe he was just waiting until they were alone, or maybe he didn't care at all. The second option made Andrew frown.
When the checkbook was deposited on their table and everyone finished adding money and cards to it, Andrew moved to get up. Neil let him by, sitting back down in the booth as Andrew stood next to the table, searching for where Patrick was. He was not too far away, standing at a register near the front entrance of the diner, his back to the booth.
"I'll be back," Andrew said, grabbing the checkbook. He was aware of the looks he was getting from the rest of the team, but the only look he was concerned about was Neil's. Neil didn't smile or shrug or - anything, he continued to have no reaction at all. And Andrew knew that he'd told Neil repeatedly that this was nothing, that he was nothing, but he thought that Neil would understand how important it was to Andrew that he was handing over these firsts and trust. He didn't want Neil to be jealous or anything, but...shouldn't he be? Somehow?
"Okay," Neil said after Andrew stood by the table for a few seconds too long.
Andrew held more tightly to the checkbook and started walking to where Patrick was standing by the register. He didn't have a plan, and wasn't sure what he wanted to say or why he even wanted to say anything to the man at all, but he was going to. Bee would probably be proud of him if she knew what he was doing.
"Oh," Patrick said, jumping just slightly when Andrew stopped next to the register. "Hey."
Andrew wordlessly handed over the checkbook, crossing his arms on the small wall Patrick was safe behind. It was taken with a steady hand, but there was nervousness in Patrick's eyes as he put the checkbook next to the register, continuing to glance at Andrew. "No more arson?" Andrew decided to ask.
Patrick's lips curled into a strange smile, letting out a humorless laugh. "No," he confirmed.
"Diner," Andrew said.
"Exy," Patrick said back. "Didn't you hate it when we played in juvie?"
Andrew didn't question how Patrick knew. Maybe he recognized Andrew's face on TV, or maybe he just recognized Kevin Day. "I still hate it," Andrew said. "Diner?"
Patrick shrugged. "Didn't know what to do once I left, but I needed a job. One of my friends dads owns this place, hired me. I like it here."
"Hmm," Andrew hummed.
They stood in silence while Patrick processed the payment, handing over the checkbook with all the receipts when he finished. "Take care of yourself, Andrew."
Andrew hummed again and walked back to the table, dropping the checkbook there and moving to leave the diner. He avoided looking at Neil, itching to smoke. He stood next to the Maserati while he waited for everyone to walk out, nearly finished with his cigarette by the time they did. Kevin and Neil broke away from the upperclassmen and Nicky to walk towards the Maserati. Andrew abandoned the rest of the cigarette to get into the car, starting it as everyone else got inside. The radio played softly as the car moved, but the rest of the silence felt stifling. Andrew wasn't sure why.
He supposed it had something to do with Neil's reaction from earlier. Just the fact that there had been no reaction when Andrew felt that there should be some reaction. He glanced in the mirror at Kevin, who was staring out a window, and then at Neil, who was looking straight ahead. He didn't want to talk about it, not wanting to hear Neil's thoughts if he really was jealous, but he knew better than to let it fester.
Andrew decided to ask in German, because Kevin didn't need to know what they were talking about. "I knew Patrick in juvie," he explained to Neil, who jerked his head to the left when Andrew started talking.
"I know," he replied in German as well. "I was listening when he said so."
"I'm not going back to see him."
Why did this feel so difficult? Why was Neil so...calm, or nonchalant? Did he give a shit? Andrew gritted his teeth and held more tightly to the steering wheel. "Did you think I would?"
Though he kept his eyes dutifully on the road, Andrew could see the way Neil tilted his head just slightly. "I mean," Neil said, moving to lean his head against the headrest, looking forward again. "Nicky told me I had to keep an eye on you, or you'd go for the waiter instead. I don't think he knows you as well as he thinks he does."
Andrew tapped his thumb against the steering wheel, trying to decipher Neil's words. "Do you think that?"
"That you'll go for the waiter?" Neil shook his head. "No."
There was relief that filled Andrew's body to hear that, but there was still that one voice that was nagging at him, telling him that Neil had to be jealous. Or lying. Or...something.
"Does it make you upset?" he managed to ask.
"What?" Neil asked.
"That - before."
"Why would I be upset that you've been with someone else?" Neil asked, frowning deeply. "People have past partners. I'm not stupid enough to be mad about it. Do you want the waiter?"
"I want nothing," Andrew reminded him.
The frown fell away. Neil didn't exactly smile, but one corner of his lips tugged upwards for a second. "I don't want anything else, either."
"That's not what I said."
Silence filled the Maserati. Andrew continued tapping the steering wheel with his thumb, but this time it wasn't in irritation or anything. Rather in content and comfort in the silence they now shared.
It was only broken when Kevin spoke up from the backseat. "Are you done talking about your relationship, now?" he asked.
Neil said something back to him in French that made Kevin scowl. Andrew stepped harder on the gas, trying to get them back to Fox Tower more quickly. Days off should be spent in bed, anyways.
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