VB Rose Volumes 8, 9, and 10

VB Rose Volumes 8, 9, and 10 by Banri Hidaka

VB Rose is one of those shoujo series that I need to get caught up on – I’ve read four volumes but it is already almost up to volume 10. I previously looked at volumes 1 and 2 and volume 7.

VB Rose Volume 8

The slowly forming love triangle gets resolved when Ageha’s friend Nat-chan confesses his feelings for her. Nat-chan is the younger brother of Ageha’s best friend Mamoru. Ageha isn’t sure how she feels. She believes that her crush on bridal boutique owner Arisaka, who overheard Nat-chan’s confession, is one-sided. Ageha spends a good part of the volume filled with emotional turmoil. She blurts out to Nat-chan “I’ve just got the mixed-up confusions because…someone as good looking as you likes someone like me!” Nat-chan points out that he knows she likes Arisaka, but he thinks that Ageha feels more natural and comfortable around him because they’ll make a good match. Ageha goes to work with Arisaka, and he’s drawn with his hand supporting his head, surrounded by conflicting thoughts. He’s wanting to say “Choose me instead!” but when Ageha tries to find out how he feels about her new romantic prospect he yells at her.

Ageha goes to tell Nat-chan that she only feels friendship for him, and Arisaka goes after Ageha to apologize. After so many volumes of the relationship slowly getting built up, Arisaka and Ageha manage to express their feelings for each other. One of the things I like about this series is that even though the romance is moving forward, there’s still a business to take care of. There’s a photo shoot at VB Rose and Ageha decides to tag along on a trip to meet with Arisaka’s ex-girlfriend. Despite Kana’s bitter facade, Ageha learns more about Arisaka’s past.

VB Rose Volume 9

Ageha and Arisaka’s budding relationship is put to the test when the VB Rose boutique has to scramble to get a dress ready for a bridal show. One of the reasons why I like this series so much is that the store setting and general emphasis on sewing and crafting puts a slightly different spin on the typical “everyone work together for something” plotline that usually is expressed in shoujo manga through putting on school festivals or other high school events. Ageha is going to model the dress, and the entire VB Rose team comes together to achieve some emergency alterations at the last minute. Arisaka has surrounded himself with a second family that supports them, and it is nice to see everyone recognizing Ageha’s importance and her new place at Arisaka’s side.

As I was leafing through this volume in preparation for writing about it, I was struck again with the clarity of Hidaka’s art. She doesn’t use a ton of tone or draw extremely elaborate backgrounds. Instead, the details of the clothing and other crafts constructed at the boutique are given greater importance, as are the facial expressions of the characters. Hidaka tends to go into full-on flower background shoujo mode for moments that have the greatest impact on the characters. Ageha descends a staircase wearing the VB Rose showcase dress surrounded by flowers and music, only to find Arisaka waiting at the bottom step to take her arm.

VB Rose Volume 10

In the tenth volume the reader gets a big explanation for Arisaka’s personality quirks when his mother abruptly shows up at VB Rose. Ran Kashiwagi’s an actress who had her son and got married when she was far too young for both responsibilities. Arisaka’s father was a steadying influence, but Ran’s habit of going out and leaving Arisaka home alone put the boy in danger. Arisaka’s father asked for a divorce, and Ran moved to Tokyo and was discovered by a talent agency. Ran’s approach to try to ingratiate herself back into her family is to arrive with an expensive car for Arisaka. When she realizes that Ageha is Arisaka’s girl friend, she drags her off on an extravagant shopping trip. Ageha listens to Ran’s story about her past with Arisaka’s father and she councils her on the best approach to try to make things up with her son. She points out to Ran that if Arisaka really hated her, he’d have turned away from her immediately.

Arisaka is left at the boutique with his stepmother, imagining what might be happening to Ageha in the company of his mother. Arisaka realizes that his colleagues are actually his friends for life, and he’s lucky to have found Ageha. Mother and son end up hashing out their relationship issues, which I think is a good foundation for Arisaka and Ageha to be able to move forward with their relationship.

VB Rose doesn’t have the over the top soap opera elements or trainwreck drama that makes some other shoujo series entertaining. Instead, it focuses on the small day-to-day revelations that push relationships in new directions. The core of the story is the network of friendships that have been built at the boutique, and the fact that the characters are so supportive of each other might make this manga seem quieter or more low-key than other stories, but insteadVB Rose ends up being much more heartwarming and sweet.

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