The Name of the Flower Vol. 2

Author: Ken Saito

CMX; ISBN 978-1-4012-1597-2

The Name of the Flower Vol. 2

This volume of The Name of Flower is something special. I honestly couldn’t put it down. Out of all the shoujo manga that I’ve read in the past, this is possibly, one of the most realistic take on romance I’ve ever read.

In this volume, Chouko finally realizes her feelings towards her guardian, Kei. This realization of love causes for Chouko to feel awkward around Kei because she simply doesn’t know how to act in front of someone she loves. Kei, of course, becomes aware of her feelings of him and slowly tries to move away from Chouko’s presence.

In order to get away from Chouko, Kei reluctantly accepts to take a trip with his editor, Akiyama. Unbeknown to Kei, Chouko has joined a club that idolizes Kei as an author. The club decides to stalk Kei on the trip in order to get a picture of him to post up on their wall. During this trip, I believe that Kei finally realizes that he has feelings for Chouko. Throughout the whole trip, his mind wanders off to think about Chouko. I honestly don’t know how an author’s imagination work, but, Kei thought about Chouko so much that he imagine that he kiss Chouko. Funny thing about this situation, was that in reality, he did kiss Chouko.

Because of this incident, the relationship between Kei and Chouko begins to strain. Not knowing what to do with Chouko’s feeling for him. Kei starts to find another place for Chouko to live. He reminds Akiyama that Chouko was only suppose to live with him until she finishes high school, and that the agreement had only been extended a little bit. Adding to all this confusion, we meet a mysterious person name Iori, who apparently caused Kei to go into a deep depression at the start of his career as an author.

What I like most about this volume is Chouko’s interaction with her club members. We meet a book loving nerd name Yousuke, who obviously has a crush on Chouko because every time he’s around her he gets tongue tied. Could this be a love triangle I’m sensing? To further prove my thesis, Kei made sure that Yousuke knew that Chouko was in love with him, when they were both soaking in a hot spring. Kei wouldn’t make this statement, unless he felt threaten by the presence of Yousuke in Chouko’s life. I kind of like that Kei has some kind of competition in terms of Chouko’s love. Maybe, it will allow Kei to realize how important Chouko really is to him. I mean, he wrote a book about her, right?

The one thing that bothers me about this series is that Kei is such a blah person. He never smiles and he has no facial expression, except for his “blah” face. With the appearance of Iori, I have no idea how his relationship with Chouko is going to end up. According to the next volume’s preview, it looks like Chouko is taking it hard.

Regardless of such a boring hero, I still find this series to be charmingly bittersweet. Not only that, this is probably one of the only shoujo manga I know that is kind of realistic (I know the whole loving your guardian in a romantic way thing, is so not normal, but still…). I could only hope for Kei to Chouko to have a happy ending, but by the looks of it, it’s not going to come easy for the pair to find peace.

Grade: B+

Venus Capriccio Vol. 1

VenusCapriccio1Warning!!!! Reading this blog will lead to some spoilers!!! So beware if you wish to continue.

What’s on the back: Takami is tall, attractive, and funny. But when one more guy she was interested in dumps her, she’s at her wit’s end to figure out what she’s doing wrong. Maybe it’s because she’s interested in the wrong kind of guys — boys who want their girlfriends to act more “girly” than Takami. So she turns to her music prodigy friend Akira for support. They’ve known each other since they started taking piano lessons as kids. Will their long time connection develop into something more than friendship?

Review: The reason I picked up Venus Capriccio vol. 1 was because it had something to do with music. I’m a sucker for music related manga because I spent most of my life playing the piano. Truth be told, music doesn’t really play a big role in this manga, but its presence is definitely there. Venus Capriccio’s main heroine Takami, is tall, attractive and funny. She gets asked out on a lot of dates, but her relationships with men never last past a date. The reason behind this is because she is a Tomboy and lacks feminity. Her mother was worried about her only daughter being influence by too much testerone (she only has brothers) enrolled her in Piano school, in order for her to be more like a girl. There she meets Akira who is a prodigy at Piano. He also happens to be a couple of years younger than her.

Time passes by, and Takami learns to see Akira as a little brother. But Akira doesn’t see her like that. Throughout the volume it’s very obvious that Akira likes Takami. But Takami was ignorant of Akira’s feeling until near the end of the volume. What really makes this Manga stand out from other shoujos is the difference in age between the two main characters. Normally what you see and find in a Shoujo, is that the main guy character is always older than the heroine. But in Venus Capriccio, Takami is two or three years older than Akira. I was a little shock at this revelation at first, but then I started to find this concept really refreshing. It’s nice to see a little change in shoujo once in a while.

The story itself, is very cute. Normally, if I like a manga, I could read it in one sitting. But if I dislike a manga, it normally takes me a couple of sitting to finish a volume. For Venus Capriccio, it only took me one sitting. The art, story and also the personality of the  characters makes it such a fun and addictive read.

Final Thoughts: Venus Capriccio is meant for someone who’s looking for something different apart from the usual shoujo. It’s definitely has a lot of the things i look for in a manga such as music. I’m definitely excited to read the next volume.

Overall Grade: B

The Name of the Flower Vol. 1

thenameofflower1Summary: Devastated by the lost of both parents in a tragic accident. 18-year-old Chouko Mizushima loses her will to live. After living at the homes of several different relatives, she settles in with a handsome young writer named Kei Mizushima. Kei’s  a solitary, private person who is uncomfortable around most people and doesn’t quite know how to deal with this emotional young woman. At first, Chouko can’t seem to do anything right. But her dedication to tending the flowers in his garden leads kei to eventually accept her presence. Will their growing mutual affection lead to something more?

Review: I was pleasantly surprised by this manga. At first when I read the back cover of this volume, I wasn’t sure if I would be interested in it. But reading some of the reviews online, I was told that this manga is a good read. I agree with what everyone thinks about this manga.

The story is really mellow in terms of the story line. Chouko, who lost her parents, refused to talk. Kei, who’s normally a reclusive, orders Chouko to cook and clean the house, if she wants to live in it. She was also told to tend the garden in her free time. As time goes on, and her garden grows, Chouko starts to speak again. She later realize that the reason she was able to move on was because of Kei’s influences on her. She also realizes that she is in love Kei.

Kei also loves her, but he feels he doesn’t deserve her. A flashback happens and we find out that at first Kei did not want to take her in. But when he saw her emotionless face, he took her in. As Chouko continues to live with him, he slowly changes into another person. At first, he would normally write dark fiction. But when Chouko lived with him, he wrote a book called “Hana” which is based on their relationship.

Conclusion: I will definitely be picking up the next volume. It’s not often that you find gems such as this.

Overall Grade: A