Butterflies, Flowers Books 3 and 4

I really want to support this series, because I very much want publishers to believe that there is a market for manga for adult women, not just girls, but its exaggerated sense of humor doesn’t quite match up with mine.

Butterflies, Flowers Book 3 cover
Butterflies, Flowers Book 3
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Having experienced my own share of work discrimination in real life, I have a hard time finding it a laughing matter for Choko to be singled out for uncomfortable attention in the workplace. I don’t know the finer cultural distinctions, whether it’s considered that bad an idea in Japan for an assistant to sleep with her boss, but it certainly is here.

Others may find it refreshing that Masayuki so bluntly confirms that Choko isn’t pregnant by clinically discussing how close they came. His lack of subtly can be quite amusing. Maybe that’s the key to enjoying this series — don’t pretend it’s at all realistic. But if that’s the case, why should I care about what happens to Choko at all?

She does particularly stupid things in Book 3, yelling about her sexual history with Masayuki at work and going out on a date with yet another former childhood servant to make him jealous. In a plot device I’m getting really tired of in manga, she risks getting raped as a way for someone to attempt revenge on Masayuki. Doesn’t anyone like her for herself? Even her boyfriend seems to be more interested in the girl she was than the woman she’s become.

Perhaps the true appeal of this series is seeing how outrageous it can be, giving readers a forbidden thrill of something they shouldn’t be reading. All while looking at attractive, successful young men competing for the young woman’s attention. Here, they dress up in full formal wear as waiters! That’s just before a comedy scene involving suppositories.

Choko’s brother has a crush on Masayuki’s cross-dressing co-worker, which adds a certain sense of panic to the beach house scenes. As in most shojo manga, it’s an excuse to worry over “ooh, we’re taking a trip together, how far will we go?” At least here, there’s no messing around with missed intentions, with Masayuki asking Choko flat-out, “when the hell am I going to be able to have sex with you for the first time?” What happened to his elite etiquette? I guess it’s supposed to be a sign of devotion that he loses his cool around her, but I’d rather see a guy who treats his love with some consideration.

Butterflies, Flowers Book 4 cover
Butterflies, Flowers Book 4
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During the followup sex scene (well earning the book’s Mature rating), she keeps telling herself (through narration) how much she loves him, but it reads to me like someone desperately trying to convince herself she’s doing the right thing. Later, she keeps thinking how tender he is and how he protects her, but most every dangerous situation she’s in is because of him. Is she a closet drama queen, thinking she loves him because he keeps bringing excitement to her life?

The book becomes a butler comedy in Book 4, adding various fandom references. The company president, known as an evil womanizer, sets his sights on Choko. (Again, why? She’s not the most attractive, she’s certainly not the most skilled, and she’s kind of a mess. Turns out it’s just to screw around with Masayuki, making her a prize instead of a character. Good thing, since she’s underdeveloped in more ways than one. This is brought home visually, as the president keeps tucking a chibi version of her under his arm and literally running away with her.) The job requires moving in with him so she can provide 24-hour service, which drives Masayuki to become the president’s butler in order to keep an eye on her.

After that gets resolved, with the guys fighting over who gets to access her “nether reasons”, the last couple of chapters take a very different direction, so much so I almost got whiplash. So I’m left not knowing what to think of this series, or even sure how I feel about it. It’s a very confusing feeling, one that makes me want to keep reading to see if I ever figure it out, or just to see what Yuki Yoshihara comes up with next. (The publisher provided review copies.)

7 Comments

  1. Well, you’re halfway there, so the end is in sight (no more wondering for the next 10 volumes on this one). Would you say this is one of the “Shojo-iest Josei”s?

  2. I can’t imagine calling anything shojo that’s this explicit, personally. It’s like the female Japanese equivalent of one of those R-rated frat-boy slob comedies: adult content, but juvenile gags. Interesting to know that the series only runs a handful of books.

    I think my reaction to it also depends a lot on what mood I’m in.

  3. “I think my reaction to it also depends a lot on what mood I’m in.”

    That’s a really big part of it for me too at times. With regard to this series…I can’t say I’m entirely loving it, but I am curious to see how it ends.

  4. I loved this manga from the begining. As I’ve finished my series of the manga “Lovely Complex” I began searching for a new manga to follow. “Butterflies, Flowers” captured me and I couldn’t put it down. I don’t see why it would be “R-rated” though…I’ve read all types of rated mangas and this one seems to be more deserving of the “T+” or “Older Teen” rating. Im comparing the rating to “Absolute Boyfriend” which has basically the same sexual content, but is rated for “Older Teen” (“T+”). Plus I’ve read some “M-rated” material and it was much more deserving of the rating than “Butterflies, Flowers”…

  5. […] being very confused by how I felt about this series after reading the two previous books, I’m back for more. And a key contrast between two chapters clarified my reaction for me. […]

  6. […] figured out why this series reads so weirdly for me. (I keep coming back to it although I have very mixed feelings about it.) It’s so jumpy in tone and events that this is one of the few manga I would really […]

  7. […] after which the series will become quickly forgotten, I suspect. I should have stopped reading several volumes ago. It just doesn’t match my sense of […]

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