Flowers and Bees Vol. #04 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Thursday, June 30, 2005
Release Date: Sunday, August 01, 2004
Translated by:Yuji Oniki
What They Say
Cruel story of youth!
Komatsu's daring quest to be the "21st Century Akira Kobayashi" ends with his dramatic rejection of a system, and a society, that makes men compete on their looks! "Can we really respect such a winner?" he asks. Presumably the answer would have been "yes," as Komatsu's prideful return to school goeth quite quickly into a sea of dumps, dirges, and dissings. For the one thing people really can't respect is a loser, and if Komatsu now thinks things have gotten as low for him as they possibly, the Devil Sisters are about to hand over a shovel, and tell him to start digging. He thought it was a figure of speech. Wrong!
The cover is similar to the original. It features Komatsu's nemesis Yamada with two young ladies all over him on a blue colored honeycomb background. The character designs for the females here are pretty monstrous, but I was pleased to see a new character on the cover. The opposite cover has a weird image with the Devil Sisters, Sakura and Hiromi running away from a crying Komatsu. The piece is perfectly positioned between the logo and the volume description
Logo Check!! ((c)2003 Megs)... is pretty simple. Times Roman font italicized with a shadow. The words "Flowers & Bees" are surrounded by pink daisies.
Inside, the printing is a little dark but everything seems to be properly aligned so it's not a total loss. I have to say Anno's chapter headers are a little etchi but completely random, I have no clue who she is drawing half of the time. As usual Viz included another chapters of the Adventures of Afterword Boy! and a blurb from Anno-sensei. They also included editor recommendations and an ad for Hansel & Gretel.
As different as Anno's art can be I think this is a clear step up from happy mania. Faces are still quite extreme, with their huge eyes, strange mouths and wild expressions. On the other hand this series is about the superficial. Faces have to be detailed and with them bodies must look good and tight. Costumes are much more hyper than Anno's other works. In many ways I find myself liking her style for this series, for her long bodies crazy faces and weird taste works perfectly for something is narcissistic.
Backgrounds are okay, but what is really good is the layout. Anno just knows when to turn it on and here she is almost abusive with it. She knows how to use perspective and distance perfectly. And she can frame a panel much like a good cinematographer can.
SFX translated in overlays. The retouch is solid with art rarely being compromised. Everything looks pretty good but I still think this series would work better with subs as the SFX
Viz's adaptation sounds good. Yeah some of the localization and slang is frustrating but it does not compromise the story, much. They keep Japanese references in and provide notes on them in the gutters. They even kept yen in and gave a little note on dollar to yen conversion (why can't other studios do this?). Honorifics are not used much but at least Viz did not use first names when last names were used. I cannot say its great but I can deal with it.
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Eureka! Komatsu has done it. He is finally putting together all he has learned from the women in his life and is finally starting to understand how to properly be used by women. Wait, he knew that already! Actually, he possibly never knew that, he was simply being used from page one of this series. Nevertheless, there appears to be light coming from the void of Komatsu's mind.
Seriously, though Komatsu might not be getting his way with the ladies right now but he is starting to understand the game. The first steps is to unfortunately get played. Hey if you ain't a player the only way in the game is to be played, so he is giving it up right now. This guarantees him some kinda action and while he might not get the respect he wants it gets him experience and gives him a chance to go through the fundamentals that he until recently never fully understood. With a lady taking advantage of him, he can listen to her problems. With her around he can pick up on her cues more often. As a couple he might even get some "perks" for being such a good boy toy. Hell if he plays his cards right Komatsu might even get other ladies eyeing him. Woof!
Don't bet on it. Getting an in is one thing; maintaining it and the developing your game is another. Komatsu is neither here or there in regards to that. Actually he might be regressing beyond where he started. What he needs to do is feel and sympathize. It's not all about Komatsu (and lil' K). He needs self-confidence and that cannot be provided like a facial. Komatsu is like a child. He just wants and cannot share or understand there is a world around him. But if he listens maybe, just maybe, he will start to get it. And who better to listen to than another man... Especially a stud that looks like a dud, cause they now the way or umm the ways!
What has Anno-sensei taught us this volume? Seriously, Anno is taking to all of us through Komatsu's foibles. Well, looking back the only thing I can pick up is that there are roles to every relationship. Listening does not help, when you have no clue what people are "trying" to communicate without words. Being nice is useless when some people want more than that. Being cool is good but you need to have to back it up all the time - through really being cool or straight up lies and acting. And looks are only enough to distract people for a short while until they figure out you are an empty shallow soul!
What Anno does teach this volume is how some people go about their relationships simply by asserting their will in a master and slave dynamic! Her entire cast is now set up this way! Yamada and his crude personality and huge package has won over the Devil Sisters! He can use them by being even meaner than they are and they obey his every command. His confidence is key and he knows that in a relationship confidence is a powerful way to exert will. That is the same with the Sisters. They know they can abuse of some of their customers. They know they also have to put on the charm for others. The way they deal with their lovers is the same. They know they want to abuse, but they want abuse as well. Maybe your relationship is nothing like this but some people are funny this way. This might not sound like a "proper" way to go about relationships, and I won't even try to discuss if love even falls into these equations, but some people get off like this. Crazy but Komatsu might want to consider this, outside of being consistently abused himself.
So is Anno trying to teach us tolerance? Maybe not. I think she just wants to show us that love, sex, friendship and whatever else we build around our socializing can be done in all sorts of ways. So Komatsu has been fooling himself in many ways cause everyone is telling him how to relate to them, but he cannot translate all the different signals he receives. Poor chump just goes by what he thinks he learned, and he leaves himself playing the fool each and every time.
As a reader I feel Anno with each chapter is inviting her readers to experience some voyeurism taking us to the dark side... I appreciate that. I might not want to experience what Komatsu is going through, but I cannot get enough of watching him go through it.
Does that make me as twisted as Anno? I hope so!
Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
Orientation: Right to Left