The Blue-Green Years, as Mizuiro Jidai is commonly called, although the 'official' English name is "Aqua Age" is a cute, coming of age anime that began to air in 1996. In prime time too! 6 pm, Thursday nights. It ran for 47 episodes, a fairly respectable run. It follows an 8th grader named Kawai Yuko through the various travails of growing up. She's got a pushy best friend, Takahata Takako, who she fights with, but they both love each other and she's got a childhood pal, Naganuma Hiroshi. That's where it gets interesting.

In the first episode, Yuko starts eight grade. After that , everything is different. One day, her best girl friend is feeding a cat secretly after school, the next she is skipping class to stare out the window at Yuko's childhood friend. Flashbacks show the short amount of time that seems to have passed between swinging on the swing set and fainting in gym class, leaving blood stains on the sheets in the nurses' office. And most mysteriously of all, her childhood friend Hiroshi has shot up four inches, lost the glasses, joined the soccer team, and now it seems that he's not Hiroshi-kun, he's Naganuma-kun ...a mysterious quantity that all the girls are giggling about in the halls. This is what Yuko goes through. She approaches everything with heart, but like a normal teen is confused. Does she like Hiroshi? How can she tell her friend that Hiroshi likes her without hurting any feelings?

This show has been compared to the Wonder Years. It's a very bittersweet recollection of growing up, and that brings us to the name. The fansubbers of this title, the Techno Girls, have a history of not translating some titles literally, such as Brother, Dear Brother for Onii-sama E(To My Older Brother). This title was not entirely changed because of the resemblance to "The Wonder Years." The Techno Girls themselves explain it better here: , but in short, the reason is that Yabuuchi Yu, the author of this original shoujo manga 'tweaked' a well known phrase in Japan- seishun jidai meaning the days of youth but the kanji can also be read 'aoi haru' - blue spring. So she changed the seishun to 'mizuiro' (blue green) It is a kind of pun.

Aqua Age is the 'official' title used in the margins of the manga, which ran in Ciao and was later collected into seven volumes. There was another series of manga named "Shin Mizuiro Jidai" (New Aqua Age) and was collected into three volumes. I hope this shoujo manga is as delightful as the anime.

In some parts, it is a bit cliche- love between childhood friends, love triangles, and in a certain episode, I could tell what it was about before hand, because Yuko notices some flowers about to bloom by the road. People familar with symbolism will note that a young girl going through puberty is often likened to a rose bud. However, there is enough heart that the cliches really don't degrade my experence. In many ways, this is the archetype of anime coming of age- just a young girl wondering about the future.

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