A manga review this time, I'm behind with those :(
Author: Yuki Yoshihara
Title: Butterflies, Flowers
Release period: 2009-2011
Publisher: VIZ Media
Reading level: FICTION – ADULT: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: around 200 pages in each volume
Availability: Should be widely available with bigger sellers
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?
Josei manga, which is meant for young women, doesn’t get translated as much as shoujo that is directed more towards younger girls. This is from one side a shame, because josei romance titles are obviously quite a bit different from shoujo romance, plus they are heaps more mature and appropriate for reading to older girls who enjoy manga, but are tired of the unescapable juvenileness that shoujo provides (which isn’t a bad or a wrong thing, honestly, but after some time it starts to get irritating). From another side, while providing variety and something for older age groups, for the most part the josei I’ve come across is all quite sexual and with sexual I mean either everything revolves around talk of sex or there literally is too much sex. If that’s your thing then great, but after some time this starts to get annoying as well, not to say that there isn’t different josei out there. I guess for a book reader you can in broader terms categorize it as such: YA is shoujo and NA is josei.
Once in a while a josei title does get lucky enough to be put into English and Butterflies, Flowers is one of those rare instances. And this falls into, as mentioned above, the sex talk category, and some of the actual act as well.
There was so much that I didn’t like about this manga, so let me count the ways: virgin shaming, sexual harassment, damsel in distress, sexual discrimination, girls gets thrown around here and there from one guy to another because they simply just want her and don’t care what she thinks, harassment at work, arranged marriage, sexual assault, doing over hours (haha, ok, that usually isn’t so bad, but it’s too common and natural in this manga) and I can go on and on. But this is Japan, another world, and their idea of especially female and male relationships for example in the company hierarchy and system is something we could never fully grasp. I’m not ok with most of it, far from it, but it kind of is as it is, plus everything is grossly exaggerated in this manga obviously (or hopefully!).
A few words about the company system and the role of women in it: It’s a scary, confining, discriminating, limiting, exhausting and that not only for women. Since the plot takes place in an office setting then you get glimpses of how things are managed and the rules. Every time I see or hear about this hierarchy system anywhere (manga, TV series, anime, reality, etc), I get shudders. Oh, come on, was there any woman in this manga company that wasn’t just there to be in a simplistic secretary position and serve tea?
Let’s talk about the good stuff: This manga is so absurd, random and over-the-top that it’s hilarious. Apart from being a romance, this is a pure screwball nothing-is-holy-or-serious comical manga. Sometimes in a foot-up-your-butt kind of funny and sometimes in a genuinely witty way. The tone is light, fluffy and silly, but you do get these dark glimpses of the reality I was talking about if you actually want to notice them.
Some funny yet quite inappropriate scenes: the job interview, Domoto’s lucky pants, him being depicted as a serious “champion” when he, well, manages to be with Choko, him hanging out her underwear to dry, bringing her pads for her period, and the list goes on. Most are in relation to Domoto of course, but he truly is one of a kind and despite the icky factor in some, it really is quite funny, especially if you take it into account that he genuinely sees himself as her devoted servant and the conflicting feelings between that and being her lover and boss are interesting to follow.
The art of the mange was pleasant to the eyes as well: clean, clear, mature, characters distinct, characters looking appropriate for their age (no sparkly eyes that make 75 percent of the face), not too much stuffed in the panels, etc.
I actually liked Choko, the heroine. I always expect a wet blanket or annoyingly opinionated whiney girl as the heroine in manga and after one or two chapters you can already determine where things are headed: the road I fear or I will be pleasantly surprised. Choko was at time too much of a sissy and other times too naggy, but she didn’t go overboard with any of those, so she showed spine where she needed to and let herself be taken care of when the situation called for as well. Things didn’t always work out for the best, but she handled everything quite nicely. Besides, you have to be wonder woman to handle Domoto, because he’s charming, but a wacko.
Domoto was a maniac, pervert, tyrant, control freak, had a split personality, was sooo serious that it’s funny and such a joke that it was again hilarious. Nevertheless, he also only wanted what’s best for Choko and due to his various roles in her life – servant, boss, lover – he had a lot of issues to overcome.
Choko’s brother whose failure in his college entrance exams was a reoccurring joke and whose passionate attempts to protect his sister from her forceful admirers was always brushed aside as if nothing.
The cross-dressing colleague and friend of Domoto and Choko in the office.
It’s a fun manga to not take seriously with a lot of wacky stuff that doesn’t make sense or even have to. If you like smut and a lot of talk about it then this is for you. If you’re a proud feminist, then don’t look this way.
Other covers from this manga: