Title: Butterflies, Flowers
Author: Yuki Yoshihara
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat)
Volume: Volume 6 (of 8), $9.99
Vintage: 2006 by Shogakukan in Japan, March 1, 2011 by Viz Media
Genre: Romance, comedy, office romance
[The last volume I reviewed was volume 2, which can be read here.]
Choko is the daughter of a former prominent, rich family, who went bankrupt when she was still a child. They now own and run a small noodle restaurant. When Choko got hired as an administrative assistant for a real estate company, her boss was the last person she expected – a former servant named Masayuki. Once Choko discovered his identity, she and Masayuki entered into a relationship together. Masayuki is a strict boss at work, but an obedient servant and lover when they are alone. Previously, Choko’s family’s restaurant and house was destroyed in a fire. Masayuki immediately offered to repair it, and put Choko’s family up at his office’s dormitory. Choko, however, moved in with Masayuki temporarily. Now the house is rebuilt, and it’s time for everyone, including Choko, to go back home.
Choko and Masayuki plan to spend their final night in the same house together in each other’s arms, but Choko’s brother bursts in to drag Choko home immediately. The gang arrives the next morning to help Choko’s family move everything into their new home, and as Masayuki is leaving, he asks Choko to return her key to his apartment. Too sad about giving up that part of her life, Choko keeps the key and surprises Masayuki with a visit. Up next, a business trip at a hot springs hotel. Masayuki becomes over protective of Choko around the company men, prompting one of them to drunkenly mention a former girlfriend of Masayuki who worked in the same department as Choko. Choko grows depressed and jealous over the knowledge that Masayuki has loved someone other than her, but Masayuki insists that she is the only woman in his heart now. When they return to the office, a group of board members attempt to oust President Yanagi. Masayuki calls in the cavalry, a handsome young branch manager named Otaki, who has some dirt on the opposition. They back down immediately, but Otaki’s job isn’t over. President Yanagi intends to groom Otaki to succeed him, and promises him his niece Makie’s hand in marriage. Desperate to help Makie, who has helped her in the past, Choko insists on being Otaki’s administrative assistant in Makie’s place. Otaki is arrogant and rude, but extremely capable at his job. Unfortunately, to keep Otaki away from Makie, Choko ends up taking him to a dangerous part of town to look at a building, and they are attacked by some thugs. Choko draws on her inner poise as a lady and steps in to protect Otaki. Fortunately Masayuki arrives just in time, but not soon enough to stop Choko’s actions from stirring up some feelings in Otaki. Soon after, Otaki, in his awkward way, attempts to date and woo Choko, who is only confused by his actions. Just as Otaki has figured out his own feelings and confesses to Choko, Masayuki gets a phone call from his ex-girlfriend. She’s back in town…and back at the office.
Finally, some genuine conflict. Six volumes, and finally it’s not just unopposed lovey-dovey-ness. I don’t really count Makie, as there wasn’t any danger there. Now there is, on both sides. Otaki isn’t one to let what he wants get away from him, as evidenced by the way he has started manipulating Choko. He uses Makie as an excuse to keep Choko by his side, and it is he that called Kaori, Masayuki’s ex-girlfriend, and got her transferred. It’s clear he doesn’t intend to give Choko up now that he’s fallen in love with her. For Choko’s part, she’s still madly in love with Masayuki, and believes that he is still madly in love with her. But now that Kaori has returned, she’s starting to have doubts. Masayuki is devoting quite a bit of attention to Kaori, and is starting to ignore Choko. Things don’t seem to be going smoothly anymore. And that’s great, because it’s exactly what this series needed – some conflict, unpredictability, a challenge to the perfect fairy tale that had been going on for five volumes. It’s actually moderately interesting now. To the people who like Butterflies, Flowers but don’t like Black Bird: Why? How is this any better? Masayuki doesn’t treat Choko much better than Kyo treats Misao (and now, Otaki). In fact, I’d say that Kyo’s behavior can even be partially excused since he really is protecting Misao’s very life. Masayuki has no such excuse, but still tries to control Choko. I’ve seen Masayuki behave in a similar fashion, and even use the same words as Kyo does. Is it because he doesn’t do it as often as Kyo, who does it in nearly every volume of Black Bird? Personally, I find Black Bird to be better written (and drawn), as well, so I just don’t see how some readers enjoy this, but dislike that.
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Review copy provided by Viz Media.