V. B. Rose 4

March 15, 2009

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.

8 Responses to “V. B. Rose 4”

  1. […] Moon (Mania.com) Deb Aoki on vol. 1 of Tantric Stripfighter Trina (About.com) Connie on vols. 3 and 4 of V.B. Rose (Slightly Biased […]

  2. Sara K. Says:

    “Yukari is 22 and Ageha is a ditzy 16-year-old girl. The age difference is a big deal.”

    Actually, I can accept a 16 / 22 relationship pretty well if they have a similar maturity level (if the 16-year old is an old soul or something). But judging by ‘ditzy’, I take it this is not the case.

    I find it hilarious to think about how, when I was a kid, I was not at all bothered by the fact that in the Sailor Moon anime the 14-yr old heroine was dating a college student. Of course, I was so young that being 14 years old seemed practically adult.

  3. lys Says:

    Ahhh! I saw your vol3 review yesterday and got sad because I love this series, but I told myself I’d wait to read your thoughts on 4 before responding. I’ve commented here before with my Hidaka-fangirling, so hopefully it’s not annoying to you ^^;

    I have to say… somehow the age difference never bothered me. I’m not sure why that is. I do think maybe my perception of how quickly the characters develop interest in each other could be affected by my reading each volume as it came out (so a few months between each volume) rather than reading them within a few weeks or even days of each other. And, compared to other manga with students and teachers falling in love (which I reeeally dislike, but part of this comes from the role of “teacher” and the maturity/responsibility that should be part of that role—the 5-to-7-year age difference alone doesn’t necessarily bother me) I think this is a more believable and less “wrong/immoral” take. I also enjoy the focus on work/friends/school/life in general in this series, rather than purely romance. I think it helps to explain who the characters are and why they are attracted to each other (better than most shoujo manga manage, at least)

    And… I also kind of feel like Yukari does recognize Ageha’s youthfulness and immaturity, like in comments where he compares her to Mitsu’s brother or laughs about her silly antics with school-friends (I think these were from vol2). I’m not sure if the story will focus on that “immaturity” of hers in the future, but since I noticed those two instances, I’m hopeful. Though I could be reading entirely too much into the series—I’m well aware of my own fangirlism for everything Hidaka Banri writes ^^;

    The main characters in “I Hate You More Than Anyone” have almost the same age-gap, actually. And the heroine in “Tears of a Lamb” has a crush on her older brother’s friend… hmm. A trend?

    One other thing on the age-gap. I’m 23 right now, so just a bit older than Yukari and co. I still don’t necessarily think of myself as an “adult,” and this could also contribute to my no-problem take on the age difference (though this could be just me personally, I don’t intend to speak for all 20-somethings). The fact that it’s manga and I kinda have a hard time imagining someone like Yukari to be real in the first place also helps… eheh. I’m not sure how much I’m supposed to look at the series as “realistic romance between a high schooler and a 22-year-old” versus “16(/15/14/13)-year-old’s dreamy fantasy of romance with a gorgeous older guy who looks kinda like a girl and makes wedding dresses yay!” (then again, I don’t know if I quite want to dismiss VBR as entirely unrealistic fantasy fluff, because I do think it has an interesting and worthwhile perspective on the genre…)

    Ack, I should stop writing and just hit submit comment!

  4. lys Says:

    Goodness gracious, my comment was longer than your whole review!! Ahhh, I’m sorry ^^;;;

  5. Connie Says:

    Oh, no, thank you! I really appreciate the alternate perspective!

    It’s true what you say about it being mostly written for a 14-or-so-year old and being a fantasy for that age group. I should probably keep that in mind, because that’s true, and it is of course a series about making wedding dresses and hooking up with your totally hot older boss, and it should probably be left at that.

    I can’t say I totally think of myself as an adult at age 24, but I definitely see myself in another world from high school students. I would feel like I was robbing the cradle if I dated someone who was 17 or even 18, because the maturity level is definitely a problem at that point. But part of it might just be that I’ve never really been the crushing or dating type, so it’s also not something I can relate to except from an alarmed parent-type perspective :p

    And I do like the series for the balance it shows in Ageha’s life. I forgot to mention the focus it put on her schoolwork for a couple chapters in volume three, and even though it was a sort of gloss-over final exam scenario, it did have an impact on everything else she was doing, like her work and hanging out with her friends. And while the work is important to her, she always has time for her friends, which is really sort of unusual in this type of “go for your dreams!”-type series.

    I hadn’t thought about the couple in I Hate You More than Anyone. I have a couple volumes of that lying around here somewhere that I need to read, too. The age bothers me a little in that series, but the maturity level seems a little closer. Unfortunately, I can’t remember their names at the moment, but the female character seems pretty mature, and the male character seems sort of immature, and they strike me as a good match. While Yukari does get into silly fights with Ageha, and Ageha is very serious about her work, Yukari is generally very serious and just seems like he’s in another world maturity-wise. Even if he recognizes Ageha’s youthfulness, it seems like it should probably put him off a little rather than attract him. Of course, some of my perceptions of Ageha’s youthfulness could be due the scenes we see with Ageha’s friends, because she acts so much differently there and I mentally carry it over to Yukari. Maybe I shouldn’t. I still have the fifth volume to read, so maybe if I focus more on how she acts around Yukari, I’ll get a more positive outlook. And its true that their relationship bothers me less than teacher-student, and it’s probably for the reason you mentioned… Yukari’s not really supposed to be an authority figure, and that helps a little bit.

    Now you have me wondering if maybe I’d be less bothered by a relationship between Ageha and Mitsuya. I’m not sure how I would feel about that, since Mitsuya seems more playful than Yukari.

    Now I’ve written a long comment ^_^;

  6. Connie Says:

    Yeah, lys sort of pointed it out above, but I think it was the maturity level more than the age, though the age still bothers me a little.

    Now that you mention it, that did bother me when I first got into Sailor Moon, even back when I was 13 or 14. I couldn’t figure out why Mamoru was dating someone so much younger aside from the whole soul mate thing. But on the other hand, I always kind of hated Usagi, so it might have just been that I thought she was a poor match for him.

  7. lys Says:

    Yay! Thanks for your reply :D I do agree with you about it being a little weird to imagine dating a high-schooler as a 20-somethinger, even if I don’t feel quite like an “adult.” I thought about this when writing my first comment too, and I decided not to mention that feeling because it contradicted my point (ehehe). But it could depend on the person/people too (what seems weird in theory might seem just fine with the right personalities). I’m not much for dating/crushing either though (and yet I read so much shoujo manga…).

    Hidaka-sensei always seems to have a focus on school (and tests) and friends in her works, even when the “point” of the series isn’t school (I was reading another (unlicensed, scanlated) series with a similar setup to VBR, with a highschool girl working at a shop with a couple hot guys, and I don’t think the series ever in 4 volumes showed her at school. It showed her at home maybe twice). The balance is really nice :D

    Oh, yes, the characters in IHY do have different personalities, even if the ages are similar. Kazuha is the responsible big sister rather than the happy-go-lucky little sister, and Maki is a goofy flirt (he’s kinda like Mitsu, only focused on just one girl. and girlier) rather than a quiet, serious guy, and that does make the whole relationship different. I do think Ageha acts (at least a bit) different around Yukari vs her friends—I keep thinking of the scene where she sends Yukari that silly school video from her cellphone; but right after that she’s asking what her next job-task is. It seems to me like she tries to be responsible and focused on her work when she’s around Yukari, which is good—she tries to avoid getting caught up in silly crush-mode. Still, you’re right about their differences in maturity and outlook, and now I’m really curious if/how the upcoming volumes are going to address it. I’m happy you wrote these reviews and this reply though—it did help me understand why you felt how you did… and made me hopeful that you might still like the series, or at least some parts of it :D

    Haha! Mitsu and Ageha… hmmm. I have a hard time imagining it. He is definitely more playful—so much that I can’t picture him being serious about anyone!

  8. Connie Says:

    Yeah, a LOT of shoujo series I read tend to drift off in one direction rather than showing that there is room in a girl’s life for friends, hobbies, and school. Looking at the series currently on my shelf… Skip Beat skips over everything but the hobby/work parts, though she does have friendships and does eventually go back to school, which is nice. It’s been awhile since I read Hana-Kimi, but I think things happen at school rather than school having any affect on the characters outside of extracurriculars, but I could be forgetting something. Classes don’t really figure into After School Nightmare, though that looks at both friendships and… er, hobbies. Ouran High School Host Club does balance them somewhat, since school things sometimes figure in, especially at the beginning of the series (Haruhi is a scholarship student and has to keep her grades up), and Haruhi has friends outside the Club, too, which is nice. Hmm… Sand Chronicles, Your and My Secret, B.O.D.Y…. all take place at school, but school doesn’t really figure in (other than failing spectacularly in B.O.D.Y.). Narration of Love at 17 does balance all three nicely, though, as far as I can tell.

    I do want to read more of IHYMTA to compare the two series now, though. It’s interesting that you point out the relationships as a common theme between her series. I’ve got… 3-5 sitting in my to read pile, so maybe I’ll finish off the fifth volume of V.B. Rose, then move on to that one to compare equal parts of the story.

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