V.B. Rose Volume 11 Banri Hidaka
My first impulse is to steer clear of long running series, just because I’ve long since entered double-stacking territory on the bookshelves that house my manga collection. But VB Rose #11 reminded me of some of the rewards for the reader that come with sticking it out for a multi-volume series. This volume shows the middle school adventures of Yukari and Mitsuya, and if I hadn’t read the previous volumes to see the ways they banter back and forth as adults I probably wouldn’t have appreciated this manga origin story so much.
Ageha asks the friends how long they’ve known each other and Mitsuya enthusiastically announces that it has been 10 years since they first met, “We’ve almost made it to our diamond anniversary!” What follows is an extended flashback as Mitsuya describes the beginning of their friendship to an enthusiastic Ageha. Mitsuya uses his charm to always be the center of attention at school. One day he notices Yukari sitting alone, and assumes that he hasn’t notices Yukari before because he is so unremarkable. When Mitsuya takes a closer look at Yukari he realizes that “He’s criminally cute!” Mitsuya promptly develops a strong man-crush but all of his attempts to get to know Yukari are mercilessly rebuffed until he finds a fashion pattern book that Yukari left at school. Mitsuya spends the evening reading the book and goes to V.B. Rose to return it because Yukari’s been out of school due to an illness. It turns out that the sickness was helping his father with an important order for the wedding dress business. Yukari’s sewing at a professional level, but his pattern making still needs a lot of work. It turns out that Mitsuya’s drawing abilities give him the talent to be a great pattern maker. Yukari and Mitsuya develop a friendship, and Mitsuya is brought into the V.B. Rose family.
There’s always been a slightly manic quality to Mitsuya’s flirting and joking personality. It turns out that this is a carefully crafted facade, as he was horribly disappointed in love many years before and has deliberately shut off his feelings. Being needed at the shop and developing a deeper friendship with Yukari allows him to come out of his shell a little bit, but the revelation about the true object of Mitsuya’s affections sets up a storyline that I’m very eager to see resolved in the next volume. Hidaka’s middle school versions of Mitsuya and Yukari are extra adorable, and the emotional arc of this volume will make fans of the series fall in love with it all over again.