Flowers and Bees Vol. 4
I read the first volume of Flowers and Bees the day it came into the bookstore, but it took me until only recently to catch up on the other three books that are available. Now, I'm wondering why I waited so long to read these.
Flowers and Bees is a series featuring a loser of a main character desperate for the attention of women. Sadly, Komatsu gets attention often enough - he just usually happens to draw notice of the negative sort. Though he'd die if he realized it, but most of his behavior is dictated indirectly by the actions of his former friend, Yamada.
Komatsu isn't a bad looking guy. He's not really a jerk, either. While he isn't very experienced, in the beginning he lacked style more than anything serious. Given enough time and/or pity, there was a chance that Komatsu could've eventually become an okay guy. He knew one thing for sure - no matter how bad he looked, his friend, Yamada, was uglier, less smooth with the ladies, and in general, not nearly as attractive as Komatsu.
That is, until he made a trip to a salon, knocking Komatsu out of his comfortable position as the second least unattractive guy in class right down to the least. He scrambled to make up his lost ground, spending every last Yen on Harumi and Kyoko's (the so-called Devil Sisters) suspicious skills as beauticians.
Fashion, speech mannerisms and hairstyles - one by one, the two ladies tackled each of Komatsu's shortcomings as a sort of project. They treated him the way an artist might treat a moldy log floating down the river, painfully reshaping Komatsu into something a little more appealing.
Then Yamada went further than Komatsu could ever dream to go. With his apparently considerable wealth, Yamada had reconstructive facial surgery performed, suddenly transforming the once homely boy into the hottest of hotties.
Just as with Anno's josei manga series, Happy Mania, the characters in Flowers and Bees are invariably dysfunctional. Many of them are downright unlikable. Yet finding out what this sadistic manga-ka is going to do next to her characters is a blast. Komatsu may be a woman-blinded fool, but he's not all that bad. He just keeps making mistakes. He's thrown into some exceedingly unfavorable situations, and it's more the author's fault than his own that his life is so horribly terrible.
Anno's art style is unique, with a tendency to draw the eyes big and appendages skinny. This is a prettier manga than Happy Mania, though the expressions you'll see on Komatsu don't vary too much. Horror, shock and disappointment pretty much sum it up, but that's a fault more of his personality than a limitation of Anno's skills as an artist. The look of the series is perfect for its content, and while it may not boast the sexiest characters or a catalog of swoon-inspiring bishonen or bishojo, it is appropriately rendered.
In addition to the main plot, there's the brief continuation of the adventures of Afterward Boy, Anno's attempt at avoiding the post-book bonus material other artists glue onto their releases.
I like the fact that we actually get to see a picture of the author - it's not too often that readers get to see what the creators look like. It doesn't make me like the book more or less, but if I ran into her on the street, at least I can recognize her. She's apparently two inches tall, cosplays as her own characters, and she's cute.
This is the manga release for people who don't want a simple romance. It's unpredictable and sadistic fun for the readers out there ready for something a little darker than what we usually get. I have to keep reading, just to see if anything ever goes well for Komatsu. Somehow, I imagine it's going to be a while until things turn around for the poor guy.