Boys Over Flowers: Jewelry Box

September 22, 2009

Yoko Kamio – Viz – 2009 – 36 + 1 volumes
this is a special epilogue/supplement to the Boys Over Flowers series

EDIT: I don’t even know how I managed to type “Boy” instead of “Box,” but it’s been fixed.

As a reminder, I’m not all that familar with Boys Over Flowers, and only read the last two volumes of the series.  I only skimmed through the plentiful bonus material at the back of the volume, but it’s some of the nicest bonus material I’ve seen included at the end of a series, which seems only appropriate for a landmark title like Boys Over Flowers.  The material in the back includes things like a series timeline, which goes year-by-year and talks about what was going on in the plot, what trends and events in popular culture and how Hanadan reflected them, what volumes came out that year, and releases for things like CDs, movies, awards, volumes, drama series, artbooks, novels, major critiques of the series, fan tribute volumes, and whatever other insane odds and ends wound up connecting to the series over the years.  Then there’s a section that talks about Tsukushi and the F4 and how their characters changed through the run of the series (one page for each character), then a section where Yoko Kamio talks at length about the series and characters, and then a bizarre comic essay, and slipped in there are notes from Kamio to each of the characters and a bizarre quiz.  There’s lots of stuff back there to enjoy, and even I got a kick out of looking through all of it just now.

The story in the volume itself were two short stories published after the series ended.  One was a one year after graduation story, which talked about a wedding between two characters and had everyone convene in France.  Tsukasa and Tsukushi are still doing their thing as far as being together and keeping in touch while Tsukasa takes care of his four years in America.  Both are extremely independent, but they are also both really feeling the separation between them.  Both feel bad about Rui hanging around Tsukushi.  The second story focuses more on Rui, and is called “Shall I Talk About Myself?”  It looks at whether he has gotten over Tsukushi, what his friends mean to him, and just some… final steps.  It seems to really wrap things up quite well between Rui and Tsukushi, and ends with a lovely scene between Tsukasa and Tsukushi at the top of the Tower of Pisa.

Both stories were good, and I enjoyed them even without knowledge of most of the rest of the series.  There were a few cryptic moments (one or two jokes and comments that were lost on me), and I was completely unaware that Rui and Tsukasa had kinda-sorta been an item (or not) at one point until it became glaringly obvious.  But it didn’t hinder my enjoyment at all.  Admittedly, in these types of stories I enjoy a little more… drama, maybe, or a little more forward progress (absolutely nothing romantic happens at all), but they were still good stories.  I’m sure people who have followed the series to its conclusion will enjoy them more than I did.

It did make me want to start the series from the beginning and read it all the way through, because I’m sure I’ll enjoy it for all the same reasons I enjoy every other decent shoujo manga I read.  This is one of the classics, after all.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Boys Over Flowers 36

May 12, 2009

Having only read the last two volumes of this, I probably didn’t enjoy the ending as much as I should have.  But the fact that the ending was immensely enjoyable and exactly what I want out of every shoujo series I read probably says something about Boys Over Flowers in general.

Actually, I may have gotten more out of the ending than the average dedicated fan, because a lot of the book consisted of flashbacks and the characters reflecting on earlier events in the series.  I imagine this to be kind of boring for someone who has read all 36 volumes (especially given the fact a lot of stuff was left open and the pages could have been better spent on other things), but it was all new to me, and I enjoyed the sentimental reflections quite a bit.

I was a little surprised when the volume opened with some… er, alone time between Tsukasa and Makino.  It doesn’t really go where I thought it was going (and was honestly kind of lame), but that made me like it a little more for being the very picture of a chaste girls’ comic.

Aside from the flashbacks about Makino’s time at Eitoku Academy, the plot consists of a random point of contention about whether Makino will be able to go to Eitoku her senior year, and then the final event is the Eitoku prom.  I was kind of shocked when I realized this was the only manga I’d ever read with a prom in it, but really, what a fantastic way to end the series.  The dance partners and tension at the event were exactly right.

I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more of a solid resolution to the series, but perhaps the aftermath I was looking for will be in the bonus volume coming out at the end of summer.  I’ll probably pick it up.  Then go back and start from the beginning of the series, because I like shoujo romance, dammit, and I’m pretty sure this serves as a template for most of what I’m reading now.  I’m a sucker for the classics.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Boys Over Flowers 35

March 2, 2009

For whatever reason, I decided long ago that I could have For You in Full Blossom or Boys Over Flowers, but I could not have both.  I chose the former, and I often wonder if I would have liked this one a little more.  My choice was based largely on the fact that the cover of the second volume of this series scares me.  Plus, I gravitate towards genderbending, which is sort of the point of Hana-Kimi.

It is the best-selling shoujo series of all time, and I knew enough about it that it wasn’t too hard jumping in here, though the only characters I was really all that familiar with were Tsukasa and Tsukushi.  This volume is sort of a wind-down, with what appears to be the resolution to a romantic triangle at the beginning of the volume and a handful of characters that were clearly from older chapters popping in to make their appearances.  I was actually quite fascinated with the romantic triangle.  I had no idea who any of those people were, but two of them were childhood friends, then one of those people and the third party… well, they parted “amiacably.”  I didn’t think nice shoujo series did that sort of thing.  What played out between those two actually made me laugh.  I wish I was in on whatever was going on there.

There’s also a plot complication between Tsukasa and Tsukushi.  I was a little surprised at how their complication came up, too, and I wish I knew a little more about them to fully grasp the nuances of what it was that Tsukasa asked, why Tsukushi hesitated, and what it was that Tsukasa was planning on doing about his family situation.  It doesn’t really matter so much, but I see the end of this soap opera and I just have to KNOW.

There’s one more volume after this one, and I imagine it will just bring everything between Tsukasa and Tsukushi to a close and feature a few cameos from older characters.  I only read this one volume, and it made me want to go back and start at the beginning.  I always sort of suspected I would be compelled to go back for this series, and perhaps now is the time since the last volume is coming out.  Several of the volumes are out of print though, and after the headache and a half it took me to track down all of Basara, I don’t know that I want to try this just yet.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.