Ryu’s Musings – Flower of Life Vols 1-4

Posted on September 17th, 2010 by Ryu Sheng |

01 Language: English
Direction: Right to Left
by: Fumi Yoshinaga
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing
Type: Series
Genre: Shoujo, Comedy, Drama, Slice of Life
Synopsis:

Forced to enrol one month late after recovering from a serious illness, Harutaro does his best to remain optimistic about enrolling in a new school. The other students try to make Haru feel welcome – especially his chubby, loveable pal, Shota – but Kai Majima, president of the manga club and all-around hard case, seems intent on making Harutaro’s high school life a living nightmare. Join Harutaro as he makes new friends, learns to draw manga and discovers surprising facts about his “kinda gay” teacher!

Character Musings:

Haru is an interesting character, he’s recovering from a severe illness, and as such has been held back a year at school. His forthright and bubbly personality wins over the class, all the more than his bombshell announcement. Over the course of the series he grows only a little  bit, before having a big splurge of development in the final volume. 02

Shota, is an overweight semi-recluse at the start of the series. He gets on well with Haru,  and while he isn’t the bubbly personality of Haru, he isn’t unhappy. His personality meshes well with Haru and over the course of the series he changes the most, becoming more open and less reserved.

Majima in all honesty is the character I hate the most. He’s reserved, obnoxious and arrogant to the max. He doesn’t get on well with anyone, except for Shota. Over the course of the series he doesn’t change at all and when things go pear shaped for him in the end I was all “take that ya SOB”.

Shigeru, the class teacher, who for ages I thought was a gay guy lol. Her personality is that of a door mat. She pretty much lets people walk all over her, and frankly I found her to be an annoying useless character. Though she does have her moments later on in the series. Though they just heighten the “door mat” feeling.

General Musings

This series is weird, good, but weird. There is no real story  to it, no deep and meaningful hidden secrets, or anything that jumps out to startle you (with one exception).

03 The first thing I noticed about the series was the bombshell that gets announced right away. Haru, our lead, drops a huge bombshell, but the way he does it I  couldn’t help but laugh over it.

Over the course of the series you come to realise that nothing major is going to happen, so instead you focus on the smaller side of things. This means the relationships, and little mini events that are going on around the lead come to the fore. Usually these would have been lost, or obscured by the main story, of Haru and his return to school, but now are given plenty of time and space to breath and strut their stuff.

Sadly though this does give the series a feeling that it lacks direction. With no set course it just drifts through the story. This is further heightened by the way the story sort of jumps around. It’’ spend a chapter building something up, then jump to another in the next chapter leaving a sort of cliff hanger ending of the previous chapter.

This happens a lot in this series, and after a while you get used to it, realising it just the way the series is also helps a lot.

The sad thing is the final volume does get really amazing since we get two very different plot developments that are never really explored and built upon. First is a revelation about Haru, which is handled awesomely, and really made me feel for the guy. But then the next day it’s all done and dusted as though nothing major had happened. We do get a few references to it, but nothing really that builds upon the revelations, or shows how everyone comes to terms with it.

The other development is with Majima. throughout the series I was hating him, wanting him to get struck by lightning or something. Well I got my wish, and my initial reaction was “HELL YEAH”, but then I started to feel sorry for him. We get some interesting moments between him and Haru, but again it’s not really built upon.04

Given that volume four was the last volume I don’t see how they could have built upon it,  but the final volume was screaming for more volumes to carry on.

The art isn’t that appealing, I’ve recently read a few other series with art that’s similar. However I really don’t like the style. The characters designs are fluctuating all the time, nothing major, but I find it irritating.

Though I have to admit Majima’s character design does look good, and it works for me. And the same is true for the other characters. They have their moments when they look awesome, especially Haru at the end of vol four when he stops dying his hair.

Publisher Musings:

I read this on eManga, so that does have an impact on my review of how DMP handled the releases.

One of the big things I noticed was that the thought/out of balloon text was done in light grey (as is usual), however this is bad on a digital release because they become hard to read and follow. Usually this isn’t an issue with paper editions, but it’s something that needs consideration for future digital editions. Other than that though the fonts were handled well, with no major issues.

They keep all the honorific’s intact, which was a nice touch. I was especially glad to see they kept the “sensei” in, rather than just trying to replace it with teacher or some other variant.

My overall thoughts on this series were that despite it lack of direction, I really got into it and enjoyed reading it. The characters were interesting enough to keep me interested. It has a great feel to it, and while I wasn’t happy with the ending it was still worth reading and one I’ll be re-reading now and again.

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