Stepping on Roses Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Is it worth selling your freedom to save the people you love?
Writer/Artist: Rinko Ueda
Translation: Tetsuichiro Miyaki
Adaptation: Tetsuichiro Miyaki
What They Say
A rags-to-riches romance from the creator of Tail of the Moon! Poor Sumi Kitamura; Her irresponsible older brother Eisuke keeps bringing home orphans for her to take care of even though they can barely afford their own basic needs! Just when Sumi's financial problems become dire, wealthy Soichiro Ashida enters her life with a bizarre proposition--he'll provide her with the money she so desperately needs if she agrees to marry him. But can Sumi pull off fooling high society into thinking she's a proper lady? Moreover, is it worth it to give everything up for this sham of a marriage?
Viz delivers a solid product with the first volume of Stepping on Roses. There is one noticeable typo that mars the book, which otherwise is presented in a bright, colorful package. The cover is attractive and very eye-catching, though it doesn’t make the setting very clear. The series takes place during the Meijer era, a period of rapid growth and change for Japan, but I never would have guessed by the cover illustration. There is a helpful glossary included at the end of the book, and the dialog flows smoothly and naturally. All in all, Viz does a nice job with this book.
I loved this introduction to Stepping on Roses. It reads a lot like a Harlequin Romance, and while that might turn some people off of the series, it caught me hook, line, and sinker. Sumi is struggling to care for all of the abandoned kids her older keeps bringing home, even though they can’t even feed themselves. To make matters worse, Eisuke is a compulsive gambler, and he’s a bad one at that. Far behind on the rent for their shabby living quarters and hounded by debt collectors, life is getting ever more unbearable for Sumi. When the lives of her adopted brothers and sister are threatened, she has no choice but to try to prostitute herself to save her family.
When the rich and handsome Soichiro makes a proposition she can’t refuse, life starts looking up. If she’ll agree to marry him, he will pay off her brother’s debts and make sure that the children aren’t sold off to satisfy the loan. Sumi quickly discovers that bailing out her brother means giving up her freedom, and that her new husband is cold, stern, and a little bit frightening. She’s expected to behave like a young lady of privilege, with refined manners and gentle ways. Her blunt demeanor and lack of grace instantly puts her at odds with Soichiro, and she wonders if he will ever be satisfied with her behavior. When she meets his friend Ijuin, she has an even bigger problem – she’s fallen in love with Ijuin!
Stepping on Roses is steeped in melodrama, so much that it is occasionally suffocating. Rinko Ueda has a knack for dishing on the angst, and for scooping one trial after another onto Sumi’s plate. Her life hits rock bottom, but she still keeps struggling against the suffocating poverty that threatens to drown her and her family. She has no friends, no one to confide in, and her brother is a complete waste of skin. People regard her with contempt, and there is nowhere for her to turn. When Soichiro offers to bail her out, Sumi doesn’t hesitate to accept his proposition. Things have gotten so bad that she can’t conceive of them becoming worse.
I am wondering now where the story will go. Sumi’s worthless brother will undoubtedly cause more grief for her, and Soichiro’s cold mockery is another challenge that she’ll have to face. Now that she has risen to the cream of high society, will she be able to fool everyone into thinking she belongs there? Winning over the wealthy movers and shakers isn’t going to be easy, and neither will earning Soichiro’s respect. Will Sumi’s reversal in fortune be a blessing or a curse? I can’t wait to find out!
Stepping on Roses offers up mindless fun, as Sumi vaults from the deepest depths of poverty to the heights of wealth and privilege. Giving up her freedom and marrying a total stranger seems like a small price to pay to ensure her family’s safety. Will she be able to find happiness in her rags-to-riches reversal of fortunes? Despite a lack of depth, the story delivers solid entertainment. My biggest fear, though, is that future installments will delve into predictable and inane plot devices.
Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translation Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Released By: Viz Media
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Stepping on Roses