Flowers and Bees Vol. #03 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: A

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Info:

  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 214
  • ISBN: 1-59116-298-X
  • Size: Tall B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Flowers and Bees Vol. #03

By Eduardo M. Chavez     August 01, 2004
Release Date: April 01, 2004


Flowers and Bees Vol.#03
© Viz Media


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Anno Moyoco
Translated by:Yuji Oniki
Adapted by:

What They Say
Yamada's inexplicably attracted girlfriend Miwa gets stolen away - by World of Beautiful Men's bad-ass beauticians Kiyoko and Harumi, who demand to know what a cutie like her sees in a badly-filled sack of delusions like him. The reasons will shock... no less than the reaction of Komatsu as he witnesses the staggering strength of Yamada's pimp hand at the happy reunion. Renewing his never particularly well-thought-out vow to best the pockmarked rival, Komatsu makes an equally ill-advised bid to trump Yamada by entering a nationwide idol contest - the dubiousness of the venture encouraged by the bottomless greed for fame, money, power, and money of Kiyoko and Harumi. The decision folds, spindles, and mutilates his already confused existence into confounding new shapes of shame, as the nice, carefree John Hughes life Komatsu wanted gets taken over mid-shoot by Johns Frankenheimer and Cassavetes. At least he loses his virginity. No, really. To a woman and everything.


The Review
Filling my seinen high school comedy quota is josei mangaka Anno Moyoco's Flower's & Bees. Viz's editor's choice series may be one of the better titles no one is talking about (or possibly the best title people are avoiding).

Packaging:
The cover is similar to the original. It features the beautician sisters, Kiyoko and Harumi, in a red honeycomb background. The image has been shrunk a bit from the original but it is definitely fitting for the contents in this volume.

Logo Check!! (2003 Megs)... is pretty simple. Times Roman font italicized with a shadow. The words "Flowers & Bees" are surrounded by pink daisies.

Artwork:
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 not quite as hyper as Anno's other works I actually find myself liking this style for this series.

Orientation/SFX:
Viz presents this series in right to left with all of the 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

Text:
Viz's adaptation looks good. 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 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. I wonder about the slang at times, but with the theme of this series it did not seem to compromise the story.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
If seeing Yamada on a date was bizarre enough, his date happens to be very attractive and for some reason appears to be really into the Neanderthal. How could this happen? Has she been drugged? Hypnosis? Maybe they are a part of a certain cult that programmed them into dating? Whatever the reason is everyone else present - Komatsu, Kiyoko and Harumi - admit this cannot be healthy. Actually, they all agree this is just plain wrong! They all know Yamada - too well, if you ask them. This guy is not only a freakishly over-confident, conniving liar, but he has a face that only his mother would love (if she was drunk or on valium). Komatsu is one of those guys that happens to be ugly on the outside and inside, but the ladies from the World of Beautiful Men do admit his attitude may be perfect for picking up gals (just as long as they can get past his looks).

Now the concern has moved beyond Yamada and towards his date. There must be something wrong with her. So a little time one-on-one (actually, two to one) was needed to figure out this "attraction." And "I just love everything about him" is not what they want to hear in a situation like this. How can someone enjoy his pimply face, pungent body order and the way he tries to cover up his ignorance without there being something else? Indeed, this is possibly one of life's mysteries and beyond the help that Kiyomi or Harumi (as depressed and disturbed as they may be) are capable of.

This new threat does mean something else for these three - they all need to step up and get their acts together to avenge their ruined reputations. There really is only one thing they can do, but is it really conceivable? No matter. The annual male idol contest is their goal, and there is no possibility in this lifetime for Yamada to compete with Komatsu in a beauty contest... right?!?!

How soon do we forget who we are talking about. Even Komatsu almost forgets about the contest, but for good reason. Seems that Komatsu is dating an older woman. With the tips he picked up from Kiyoko and Harumi Komatsu may be able to go pretty far with this postal worker. He might even find out that she is married... But, before worrying about that there is sex to worry about. And boy was that a thrill... Wait, there is that husband! What is his deal? Why would he not mind running into his wife having an affair? Why is the guy even cheating as well? And why is he giving Komatsu tips on life? Well, at least he did not get the crud beaten out of him and now he has real sexual experience. Even if it was just once.

Now let's see what was he up to before dating. Oh, that contest is coming up!

Back at the World of Beautiful Men, Kiyoko and Harumi have focused their attention to a desperate customer. Yamada wants to be a stud and he has already gone through hours of cosmetic surgery to fix that face of his, now the rest of the package needs some work. His potential has won over the two sisters and with them on Yamada's side Komatsu should not have much hope. But then again sometimes a little experience in certain things and ignorance in others can take you places. Komatsu's ignorance has carried him to the third round in this beauty contest. His sexual experience has revived his bizarre relationship with Hiromi. And his personal experience has him starting to understand the opposite sex - in particular Sakura and the issues she is going through. Odds-makers would not put money on someone like Komatsu, but this kid is starting to become a man and if he ever learns from his mistakes he should end up winning in the end.

Comments
After going through two volumes of stupid shonen, a.k.a. Komatsu Masao, Anno has finally decided to make the turn and have her star start to shine. The way she goes about it is typical of what we have seen from Komatsu, but almost unconsciously (almost too close to reality) he starts to figure things out and begins growing up. It's been a tough journey, full of trials and failures and more failures but Komatsu has begun to show signs of maturity. He may be a few steps behind his rivals, but at this pace he should be poised to make for a good fight in the near future (just in time for the final stages of the idol contest). It's pretty refreshing and always amusing, and I have not read a seinen manga that had me going towards the extremes - rolling on the floor laughter, gut-wrenching frustration and darkest depression. I know this may be a stretch, but the way Komatsu starts to learn (ever so slowly) reminds me of a just as clueless Godai Yusaku or even a Moteuchi Yota who took it for granted and then had to work on it. Komatsu's story is obviously set up differently, but as in some other coming of age titles in the end his how he matures is really what will be carrying this title (even with Anno's sensei's bizarre style of comedy).

I know people have issues with Anno's art, but this volume really shows her own maturity. While hyper, disjointed, and full of insane filler Happy Mania may be too much for those not too familiar with josei manga, Flowers & Bees uses the skills Anno picked up along the way and then made it fit for a seinen audience. The nudity is still there. The sex that works for seinen and josei is back. The hyper comedy with a bizarre cast has not been ignored. The fashion sense is on. The writing has tightened up a bit? Oh and the art is a little tighter as well. Female characters are as dominant as they always have been. And took her time developing her lead character for laughs as well as to progress the plot. Something for everyone. A coming of age story, with a twisted cast, based on themes most young adults can relate to. Brilliant! Add a nice translation and a decent production and it becomes tough for me to find issues with this presentation.

The more I read this title, the harder it is to imagine a collection without it. For me it fills a void of many genres and themes and in some ways makes a new one of its own. It may take a little time to get used to, and it may not be for those as immature as Komatsu is at the start of the series but it is definitely deserves a look for anyone looking for a different take on high school comedy. So real, so over-the-top insane, so perfect together and so hard to put down.

Recommended

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