V.B. Rose 8

Banri Hidaka – Tokyopop – 2010 – 12 volumes

Oh man, I haven’t had a dose of girly this strong in a long time.  The whole Ageha/Arisaka situation comes to a head here, and it is completely shameless as far as that goes.  Shamelessly girly.

Two things happen in this volume.  The above is the most major event, and most everything that follows is just reactions to it.  But there’s also a detailed flashback about Kanna and her relationship with Arisaka.  That flashback was of the type I’m not particularly fond of, where teenagers dwell on the sadness of their lives and decide things aren’t good for them (not that this is improbable, it’s just a little… you know, dramatic teens and all that).  Kanna’s an interesting character, and making her so grumpy and antisocial is a great thing when you get a little more character development.  She comes off as more of a straight man when you get behind her grumpiness, and it’s cute the way Tsuyu gets along with her so well.  Ageha points out that Tsuyu merely ignores all her grumpiness, which is an idea I like a lot.

Maki and Kazuha put in an appearance.  I almost didn’t recognize Maki, but he was also toned way down in this series.  It’s almost heartbreaking seeing them here and knowing I won’t get to read the end of I Hate You More Than Anybody.

Hm.  There’s still something a little shallow about V.B. Rose that keeps it separate from my true favorites, but when I’m blinded by girly when reading anything, I find I have to bow my head.  Bravo, V.B. Rose, for being an awesome shoujo manga.


V. B. Rose 7

Banri Hidaka – Tokopop – 2009 – 12 volumes

I reviewed this for the weekly Manga Minis column at Manga Recon, so you can check it out over there.

I’m finally completely in love with this series.  After all my talk about not liking the main character and the main couple just not doing it for me, I was hanging on their every awkward moment.  The wedding dress design parts are still a huge bonus too, though there’s less of that in this volume (more later, though, since they’re preparing for a show).  Ah.  Good stuff.


V. B. Rose 6

Banri Hidaka – Tokyopop – 2009 – 12 volumes

Hmm.  I waited so long to read this volume, and it seems like the story didn’t develop at all.  Given how fast Ageha and Yukari were moving together in the early volumes, I was a little disappointed to see that neither moved forward at all here, and that both just drug their feet.  Yukari is worried that he is making Ageha unhappy, and Ageha is worried that if she tells Yukari how she feels and he isn’t feeling the same, she’ll lose her place at the company and her happiness along with it.  And round and round we go.  I still don’t like Ageha that much, and I’m a little sad that the series is the-characters-beat-each-other-up-for-comic-relief-type, because there are still a lot of things I like about it.

Without the romance, I was focusing mostly on the wedding dress aspect, which is still completely fascinating and unique.  Things do advance on that front, and Ageha begins doing professional work with her own designs for V.B.R.  I do like seeing her grow as an artist, especially when she’s so enthusiastic about creating.  Yukari also does a little bit of his own impromptu work, and it looks like his business is growing bigger and bigger.  We get introduced to yet another freelance staff member in this volume, too, but this time it looks like the person may be out to rock the boat.

One thing… I had no idea that the Akiyoshi family was part of this series!  I’ll have to go back and see now since I’ve read more of I Hate You More Than Anyone.  Rei shows up at a school festival at the beginning of the volume, and Ageha mentions Kazuha, so maybe she was an older client?  I can’t remember, but now I have to check.  I always like it when mangaka use something consistent to unite their works, and I do love that Banri Hidaka seems to work a lot with the Akiyoshi family (she has maybe four other short series focusing on members other than Kazuha, too).  Hmm.


V. B. Rose 5

I reviewed this for the Manga Minis column at the Manga Recon, so you can check out the review over there.

Long story short: A lot of what was bothering me in the past couple volumes I’ve sort of set aside, and I like it a lot more as the romance story it is.  It’s not a deep romance, and there’s not much else to it, but it’s hard not to get caught up in Yukari and Ageha’s constant worries, and I liked it a lot for what it is.


V. B. Rose 4

I actually kind of hated this volume when I read it, but that was before I realized that I had read the volumes out of order.  Reading volume 3 helped me remember that the light-haired boy was Mitsuya’s brother, and Nagare was introduced last volume as another love interest for Ageha.  I kind of like him, he’s got sort of a Hana-chan vibe from Fruits Basket in that he has the power to give people the willies from miles away.  I’m not going to pretend I don’t like that gag.

But the main reason I hated this volume was that I do not like the mutual relationship between Ageha and Yukari and how fast it’s developed.  It’s one thing to have something minor going on between them, and it’s another thing for Ageha to have a crush on Yukari, but… Yukari is 22 and Ageha is a ditzy 16-year-old girl.  The age difference is a big deal.  I do not like it.  And to add insult to injury, both of them are participating in a mock wedding in this volume, and loving every minute of it.  It’s really kind of weird.  Then they go on a date at the end of the volume.

I like the characters themselves though, and I like that the story balances out all the time that Ageha spends at V.B. Rose with stuff she does with friends her own age.  Friends are usually neglected when a hero or heroine gets involved with something outside of school, and it’s rare to see those characters develop further.  I also still really like the novelty of the series being about wedding dresses.

Well.  I don’t think Ageha and Yukari are going to confess their feelings for one another anytime soon.  The novelty of wedding dresses will carry me for at least a few more volumes, but… Ageha and Yukari’s relationship really does bother me.


V. B. Rose 3

I read volume 3 and 4 out of order, unfortunately.  Volume 4 left me with an extremely negative impression, so I think I enjoyed this volume a little less than I would have otherwise.

What I didn’t like about volume 4 was that 22-year-old Yukari had a crush on 15-year-old Ageha, which I could not justify in my mind.  It’s okay for Ageha to have a crush on him, but recriprocating it is not okay in my mind.  But more on that next time.

This volume is more about Ageha dealing with her feelings for Yukari and him sort of… showing hints of affection and showing signs that his feelings may be headed in the same direction as hers.  Hints are fine for me, and I like his casual and somewhat thoughtless (in a good way) affection as reciprocation for Ageha’s feelings.

I liked the dynamic the two had in this volume a lot, actually.  Ageha’s crush reaches mammoth proportions when Kuromine tells her Yukari doesn’t tolerate part-timers asking him out (or rather, part-timers always wind up quitting after asking him out and being rejected since he tends to make things awkward afterwards).  The joking relationship between the two of them, and Ageha’s ability to see through Yukari’s somewhat gruff and pointed personality and reciprocate with her own quick emotions in most situations is very enjoyable.

Yukari’s family situation is revealed in this volume.  He’s got a little half-brother and a mother with a history.  His little brother is a duplicate of him, and Ageha takes to the little guy right away.  The woman in charge of the dress shop next door is also tied strangely into things.

There’s a cute scene at the end where Yukari swoops in to rescue Ageha at one point.  I kind of liked that, too, if only because it was a pretty girly shoujo scene, and I take great pleasure when those are done right.

I really did enjoy this volume though, and would have enjoyed it a lot more had I not read the fourth volume first.  More on my problems with the series tomorrow, though.


V. B. Rose 2

Hmm.  I’m not hard to please (which is part of the reason I have a gigantic website full of articles that consist solely of me saying “awesome” over and over again), so I have to say that I was a little out-of-sorts when I found myself not enjoying the second volume of this series as much as the first.  It’s rare that the second volume loses steam with me, and if I like the first, I’m usually good for the next several volumes as the story starts to take off.  Not so much the case here, though.

Well, of course we get some romantic tension between Ageha and Yukari, but so far it’s nothing spectacular, and I’m not really that attached to either of the characters or their relationship.  Ageha’s realization came a bit early, I think.  I probably would have been a bit more excited about it had the relationship been developed a bit deeper, or lasted a little longer.  I don’t know.  Perhaps it’s my memory of Let Dai that is just crippling my enjoyment of lighter, happier shoujo now.

I wondered where the plot would go once Ageha’s sister was married.  Well… from there, we start to learn about the relationship between Kuromine and his brother, who Ageha happens to meet by chance one day.  I’m much less excited about this storyline, because I know next to nothing about Kuromine.  I think the previous story worked simply because it was easy to get a bead on Ageha and see how important her sister was to her right away, but it’s harder for me to understand how the Kuromine brothers relate to one another.

Well, okay.  So far, I like I Hate You More Than Anyone a bit better than this series, but I’ve got the next two volumes of this on hand, so I’ll keep reading for now.  Maybe it’l get better and better as the characters keep developing.


V. B. Rose 1

Yay, I finally decided to read a Banri Hidaka series!  I think I would have rather tried out “I Hate You More Than Anyone” first, but neither of the CMX series were in stock at the store where I saw this, so I settled.  Not that this sounds at all bad.  It’s got a really unique premise, sort of like Beauty Pop and its hairstylists.  This time, the main character is a fashion designer (a really cool hobby/profession/skill that seems surprisingly underused in manga for how awesome it is), and she is drawn into a boutique that only designs wedding dresses.  It’s a great premise, plus the covers are pretty.  What more could I want?

I was nearly lost in the sort of vague mess that is the main character’s relationship with her sister.  She blows up at her on the first few pages for getting pregnant and marrying her long-time boyfriend, a guy who is apparently very plain and sort of lame.  Prior to this, her and her sister had been very close, but a lot of the volume is the main character alternating between being angry and apologetic towards her sister, and her sister just taking it passively.  It goes to great lengths to explain that both sisters rely on each other, but it’s sort of generic stuff, and a bit hard to sit through when the rest of it is so good.

The main character starts out as a handbag designer, or really, just someone who likes making cool handbags for her friends and sister as presents.  She apparently is somewhat well-known in the area since she always adds her signature butterfly to her creations, and eventually her reputation catches up with her when she is spotted by/runs into two men who run a custom wedding gown shop… the same two men who are making her sister’s dress, of course.  I’m not too fond of either of the men at the moment, but the fact that they make custom wedding gowns goes a long way to endear me to them.

So far, so good.  I’m not sure where things will go after the sister’s wedding dress is finished, and I’m not sure if I want the main character to stay with dresses, start making her own accessories (likely wedding-themed to go with the shop she now works at), or both.  It’s a great plot, and so far I like it a lot.


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