Butterflies, Flowers Volume 5 by Yuki Yoshihara
I tend to think of this series as “stealth josei” because while it is issues under the Shojo Beat imprint, the sexual content and mature readers rating puts it in the josei category for me. Yoshihara continues with her winning blend of workplace sex comedy and romance as Choko and her former servant/current boss/boyfriend Masayuki contemplate moving in together. His apartment is barren, so they go to a furniture store and try to pick out a few pieces. Even though Choko is now a working girl, she instinctively has upper-class tastes when it comes to furniture. Masayuki is crestfallen when the saleswoman doesn’t immediately treat them like a lovey dovey couple. Unfortunately when they are alone, Masayuki promptly becomes impotent because he’s unable to make the psychological switch to thinking of Choko as his girlfriend. Choko demands that he gets over his problem so they can have an ordinary relationship and refuses to respond when he calls her “milady”. Masayuki is unable to give up the master-servant relationship and decides to make love to her with the inexplicably otaku pronouncement “Even a Gundam is able to stand tall from willpower alone.” Butterflies, Flowers continues to be a little raunchy while simultaneously showing heart-warming stories about a developing relationship. It is a very unique combination that I think only Yoshihara could pull off.
Seiho Boys’ High School! Volume 4 by Kaneyoshi Izumi
This was a series I avoided when it came out for a couple reasons. I thought the premise of a shoujo series taking place in an all-boys high school had a very high potential for cheeziness. I also had read several volumes of Izumi’s other series Doubt! and gave up on it before finishing because I thought that the heroine was remarkably spineless. But I’d read several positive reviews of Seiho Boys’ High School! so I was curious to see if it really was good after all. The episodic nature of the manga and the handy character guide at the beginning made it easy for me to enjoy reading the manga even though I hadn’t read the previous volumes.
For an all-boys high school, there certainly seem to be plenty of girls hanging around. The romantic foibles of various characters are detailed in each chapter. Maki has a hard time moving forward with his current relationship due to his long-lost crush. Erika takes out her rage over his hesitation by mercilessly teaching him how to surf. The second story in the volume involves silent hunk Genda, who is utterly incapable of communicating his feeling to the girl that he’s dating, to the point of silently accepting without protest when she dumps him. When he sees her going out with a new totally unsuitable boy, he’s able to express himself with his fists and finally tell her how he feels. Izumi does a good job at showing Genda’s total and involuntary paralysis when it comes to talking to girls, which makes his breakthrough moment when he tells the object of his affections that she is “super cute” in a tiny voice. I liked the final story in the collection the most. Handsome Kamiki has a bit of a stalker in Fuyuka, who hangs around the school and is happy when he calls her by name. When Hanai confronts her, she says she realizes that she’s delusional but “My only choice is to embrace my delusions! I need to be a girl who lives in her dreams!” Hanai ends up serving as Henry Higgins to Fuyuka’s Eliza Doolittle, coaching her on how to change her personality to appeal more to boys. The interaction between Fuyuka was funny, with plenty of over-the-top pronouncements like “Master! I’ll work hard to perfect my womanly weapons!” Kamiki sees what’s going on and comments that he isn’t in favor of her sweetness and light act, and what if “people only like the plastic doll they’re seeing?” Fuyuka tries going out with a different guy and soon finds out that the strain of maintaining her new personality for someone she’s not even interested in isn’t worth it. I liked the short story format of this manga. I think Izumi’s character design and humor have improved a lot since Doubt!, and I enjoyed this volume much more than I was expecting.
Review copies provided by the publisher.