Mania Grade: A-
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- Art Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: A-
- Text/Translation Rating: B+
- Age Rating: 17 and Up
- Released By: Viz Media
- MSRP: 9.99
- Pages: 200
- ISBN: 9781421532035
- Size: B6
- Orientation: Right to Left
Butterflies, Flowers Vol. #01
Butterflies, Flowers Vol. #01 Manga Review
By Thomas Zoth
December 22, 2010
Release Date: December 02, 2009
© Viz Media
Smut comes to Shojo Beat in all its plastic-wrapped glory.
Writer/Artist: Yuki Yoshihara
Translation: Tetsuichiro Miyaki
Adaptation: Nancy Thistlethwaite
What They Say
Choko Kuze is the sensible daughter of a venerable family who went bankrupt. She joins a real estate company as an entry-level office worker, but her eccentric boss is harder on her than anyone else in the company! After hearing him inadvertently call her "milady," she realizes he was the young servant boy she knew as a child. At work he's a tyrant, but after hours he insists on treating her like a lady of the nobility. Is romance even possible for a couple locked in such a crazy role reversal?
Butterflies, Flowers is a very attractive release from Viz. The cover features a bright and colorful scene of a vulnerable Choko being held by a somewhat ominous looking Domoto. It's all done with warm reds, browns and purples, and it's extremely eye-catching. I know I took at look at the volume on the strength of the cover alone. In the lower right corner is the Explicit Content warning. The back features a superdeformed scene with Domoto tormenting poor Choko, with the summary blurb and Viz and Shojo Beat logos beneath it. Butterflies, Flowers has the same printing and paper quality as Viz's other releases, which is very nice if not exceptional. Translation flows well, with Japanese cultural gags and references left largely intact and explained with culture notes at the end of the volume. One character speaks in format Japanese, which is again translated as somewhat Shakespearian English. It's not overdone, however, and it works well for his brief appearances.
I'm really a fan of Yuki Yoshihara's art, from the color work on the cover to the manga within. She's an extremely talented artist who is able to draw detailed backgrounds as well as wonderfully expressive faces. Much of the humor relies on facial expressions, and she's able to express a lot of emotion in both exaggerated and realistic ways. Toning is also exceptional, giving a feeling of depth and texture to the lifework. If her art has one weakness, however, it's that I'm unable to detect a certain style to Yoshihara's art that's distinctly hers. If I saw a random page of Butterflies, Flowers mixed among work from other mangaka, I can't say I'd be able to pick her work out. There's a lot to be said for mere skillful execution, and it's a treat to look at.
Butterflies, Flowers opens on what has to be one of the most awkward job interviews. Choko Kuze, formerly a member of a well-to-do Japanese family, is looking for a job at a real-estate company. As part of the interview, the sinister looking man in charge asks her if she's a virgin. She admits that yes, she is, and he responds with a sinister smirk. Humiliated and angry, Choko returns home to her family. After losing a lot of money in the real estate bubble of the 1990s, the Kuzes have been reduced to mere noodle stand owners. Choko seems to be taking it better than her brother and father, but she still fondly recalls her childhood spend with her dear Cha-chan, the chauffeur's son who spent so much time with her. He promised he would meet her again someday. Ah, thinks Choko, if only I could be with Cha-chan again instead of the horrible, leering monster Domoto who interviewed me today!
At this point, it should surprise no one that Cha-chan has grown up to be Director Domoto, Choko's cruel and demanding boss.
When an angry contractor threatens Choko with a knife, Domoto's inner chivalry bursts forth, and he defends "milady" Choko by grabbing the attacker's knife with his bare hand. Once Choko's recovered her composure, however, Domoto reverts to his ruthless taskmaster personality, a seeming Jekyll-chan and Hyde-kaicho. With this formula in place, Butterflies, Flowers plays a lot like a sitcom with "My Crazy Boss!" as the cause of all of the wacky antics. It's unrealistic and silly, but it's also a heck of a lot of fun.
Butterflies, Flowers is successful for two reasons: First, its utter lack of shame, and second, Yoshihara's talent for coming up with gags, both visual and situational. Though there's no nudity in this first volume, the plastic wrap is warranted, as the language and innuendo is frank and direct. It's all the more amusing because the characters initially seem so straight-laced. Choko's transformations into superdeformed mode, yaoi gags, and an endless series of Gundam references add to the silly atmosphere. There does to be a serious plot that Yoshihara's trying to advance as well, but it's kept to the side in this volume to let the humor shine through. The strength of the later volumes will likely depend on if she's able to keep the gags varied enough, and if she's able to develop the characters enough to make the dramatic plot seem plausible. I'm looking forward to finding out where it goes from here.
Equal parts sitcom, smut, and gag manga, Butterflies, Flowers is a josei manga that starts out on the right foot. At this point, it's hard to take the relationship between Choko and Domoto seriously, but Yoshihara's focus in this first volume is foremost on the wacky humor. Come into this series hungry for pure shamelessness, and you won't be disappointed.
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