Flower in a Storm 2

July 19, 2010

Shigeyoshi Takagi – Viz – 2010 – 2 volumes

I know I’m not the best person to turn to for recommendations when it comes to mediocre shoujo, because I wind up liking quite a bit of it. Again, this is one of those titles that unapologetically uses shoujo cliches like candy, mostly when it comes to the heroine. And the heroine isn’t that likable. But it was a really cute love story, and I couldn’t help but get caught up in this volume as Riko began returning Ran’s feelings.

The short story chapter format continues, with Riko and ran having holiday retreats in Europe, going on cruises, and in the finale, getting kidnapped by terrorists. There’s also a chapter in the beginning that briefly introduces a rival for Ran’s affections, though she’s so clearly not a threat that I had a hard time enjoying that story. What’s going on plot-wise is incidental, though, since the real draw in this series is Ran’s carefree attitude. It’s a bit better here, too, since Riko begins reciprocating his feelings. Before, Ran’s over-the-top courtship seemed slightly crueler than it ought to have since Riko was not enjoying it. Sadly, the reciprocation comes at the cost of Ran getting drawn more and more into his work, but everything still works out in the end. It’s a two-volume shoujo romance. How could it not?

One thing that surprised me was how the final chapter finished up. In the author’s notes, she mentions that her editor complained about her giving the story a sad ending, but that she thought it was happy. She goes on to talk about how she added a few pages to the graphic novel. If she’s talking about the pages I think she is, that ending would have been both the absolute worst romance ending ever and incredibly bold. The last chapter is a lot darker than you’d think, but even so. It’s Ran. It’s hard to get him sad when Riko is involved.

There’s a short story after “Flower in a Storm” finishes up (a very short story, the volume probably would have been long enough without it). It’s about a boy who doesn’t like to be touched by anybody but his science teacher. Normally I hate teacher/student relationship stories, and this is a particularly creepy one, but I did like how twisted it wound up being in the end. The intent wasn’t clear. It wasn’t a terrific story, but it was better than those filler stories usually are. It was also Takagi’s debut work, and pretty good for a first story.

I really liked this series, in the end. Yes, it’s not really breaking new ground, and it’s silly that Riko has super-strength, and she’s really hard to get behind as the heroine, but the romance is fun, and Ran’s fun attitude and complete devotion make up for all the other shortcomings. At two volumes, it’s not much of an investment money- or time-wise, and if you’re looking for a fun shoujo story, you could definitely do worse.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Flower in a Storm 1

July 17, 2010

Shigeyoshi Takagi – Viz – 2010 – 2 volumes

I was a little shy about this one at first. It sounds cute, but it also sounds like the type of series that has many, many opportunities to go bad. Unfortunately the format works against it, since it was clearly serialized in an irregular publication, and a lot of the amped-up silliness doesn’t go together well when the stories are read all together like this.

It also has horrible cliches working against it. Riko is trying to be as normal as possible to hide the fact she has “super powers” or abnormal physical ability, and she is chased enthusiastically by Ran, the richest person in the country. He meets her one day in a car accident, finds out everything about her, and then decides he would like to marry her. Wacky shoujo hijinx ensue. He does so much that is over-the-top and attention-grabbing that Riko can’t help but run away. Plus there’s the fact that he proposes to her out of thin air, won’t take no for an answer, and then just starts hanging around and pestering her good-naturedly from then on.

I can’t find it in my heart to condemn it, though, since I like the moral so much. Riko tries hard to be normal because she was rejected by a boy she likes due to being freakishly strong. She doesn’t want to stand out in any way, and when Ran flies in in a helicopter, it kind of shatters her peace. But explaining this to Ran only confuses him, since he can’t figure out why she’d want to change herself, saying you should always like who you are.

Usually, the shoe’s on the other foot, and the heroine is trying to excel at something to catch the boy’s eye, so I also like the reversal here. It’s still pure silliness, but I think the boy’s attitude helps a lot, too. Ran is a lot of fun, and one of the few rich kids who’s not a complete jerk. He also genuinely likes Riko for who she is, and it’s hard to begrudge him that.

It’s one of those series that’s not great (no ongoing plot, too many jokes, too many common plot devices), but I had an awful lot of fun reading it, anyway. I was a little angry with the first chapter, but by the end of the book I was caught up in the cute romance. At two volumes, it’s also hard to begrudge Ran and Riko their fun. I do hope there’s a nice resolution in the next volume, though.