by Banri Hidaka; adapted by Barb Lien-Cooper
published by Tokyopop; $10.99 US
Why didn’t I know about this great shojo series before now?
Not only did I enjoy the characters and the romance, but I was impressed that I could jump into the series at this point, since I hadn’t previously read any other chapters. Ageha works at a shop, the V.B. Rose of the title, that makes gorgeous wedding dresses. She and her boss, Arisaka, have an unspoken attraction to each other, obvious as this volume opens. They’re both at a birthday party, getting closer to each other, only Arisaka has had too much to drink, which leads to an embarrassingly unpleasant encounter. In some other shojo, the obstacles that keep two people apart from each other can seem artificial or sometimes too culturally Japanese. Here, this incident reminded me of what could happen in college life.
More importantly, I liked these characters. Even after Ageha’s disappointment, she’s still chipper, enjoying the beauty of a star-filled night. She looks on the bright side, like most shojo heroines, but her optimism is reality-based and sensible. That made it easier to relate to her uncertainty about her feelings for Arisaka and his for her. Her concerns also involve not wanting to make things uncomfortable at a workplace she enjoys, a very mature thought.
Later in the book, Ageha’s confusion becomes more pronounced as another boy makes his interest known. Meanwhile, Arisaka’s ex-girlfriend returns to make corsages for a big project for the shop, adding additional complication.
The art’s beautiful, which is a good choice for a series set in a clothes shop. Banri Hidaka, based on her editorial notes, has a strong interest in fashion and draws it well. She also handles expression expertly, even quiet moments of reflection. Her characters feel like real people to me in how they’re shown behaving.
This is a bit fluffier than Paradise Kiss, which revels in being edgy, but I was reminded of that earlier series while reading V.B. Rose: both feature a teen finding what she really wants through knowing and loving creative fashion workers.
Plus, I liked Tsuyu, the bead-worker for very personal reasons. Her short dark pixie cut and glasses reminded me of an idealized version of my younger self. Only I never wore a lovely frilly kimono. (The publisher provided a review copy.)