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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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02/13/2007 Archived Entry: "Manga review: Flower of Life, Volume 1"

Flower of Life, Volume 1
Art and story by Fumi Yoshinaga
Published by Digital Manga Publishing

Review by Ginger Mayerson

Okay, this has to be the first manga that I've had to put the book down to laugh. And it came out of nowhere. Well, not nowhere, exactly, it was in a confrontation, that I can't explain without ruining the surprise, that was suddenly howlingly funny. For that alone, I can seriously recommend this book.

In "Flower of Life," HarutaroHanazono enrolls in a new school a month late and introduces himself as a leukemia survivor. And then he has to make friends and kind of falls in love with one of his school mates, who's a guy, of course. And Harutaro has a wonderful sister who donated her bone marrow and is an amazing, almost poetic lunch-maker. And they have a wacky dad and a mom who's in Spain teaching chicken sexing (how to tell the gender of chickens [stop looking at me like that, it's the internet, I have to explain these things]), and... and... And this book has a raging manga and anime fan in it who's a surprise-a-minute and sexy and disturbing in measures that cancel each other out, rendering him a cipher, with washboard abs. It's hard to explain: this book is sweet, funny, and occasionally startling. And this is only Volume 1. So there IS something to look forward to.

Okay, I know it's shonen-ai, but Fumi Yoshinaga writes and draws the best women I've seen in the genre. Her women are funny, sad, happy, angry, short, tall, fat, pretty, not so pretty, smart, dumb, kind, cruel, you know, just like real women. And they are all sympathetic, even the ones I didn't like (the creepy single mom writer in Antique Bakery), they were still fully formed complex characters and even my dislike is conflicted by their good points (even the creepy single mom writer had enough endearing qualities and genuine love for her daughter under her overworked frustrations and cranky chain-smoking turtleneck-wearing appearance for ten pages that I could laugh at her since she was laughing at herself by the end of it).

So I do recommend "Flower of Life" volume 1 and am looking forward to the next two volumes. I liked Yoshinaga's "Antique Bakery" series, but it took me a while to warm up to it. Not so with FOL; it had me in the first two pages. And I still can't figure out if I like the art or not. I feel very comfortable with it, so even though I perfer a harder edge to my manga drawing, I lose myself in this art. I can't fault the flow of the drawings and Yoshinaga takes her time telling the story. So, I like the art, it just doesn't make me leap joyously around. Or something.

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