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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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05/07/2007 Archived Entry: "Manga review: Flower of Life, Volume 2"

Flower of Life, Volume 2
Story and art by Fumi Yoshinaga
Published by the Juné Imprint of Digital Manga, Inc.

Review by Ginger Mayerson

As in "Flower of Life 1," there are many laugh out loud moments in "Flower of Life 2." This one happened to catch my eye:

Majima: If you make one manly (the pitcher), you've got to make the other one (the catcher) pretty enough so as to be barely distinguishable from a woman!! That's the iron rule of yaoi!!!

Sumiko: If that's the case, then why can't I just make them be a man and a woman? Why does it have to be two men?

Majima: FOOL!! Female fans of yaoi are subconsciously attracted to and aroused by the equality inherent in the relationship between two men. The love shared in such a relationship is on the basis that one of the men, who is capable of either giving or receiving in sex, actively choosing to be the one to receive... to be submissive. This is completely different from a relationship with a woman, who is physically constructed only for receiving!!! (page 28)

Hey, is Fumi Yoshinaga making fun of us? Well, I'd say it's high time.

You know, more than once, since I've been reading manga, I've wished I went to a High School that had Culture Festivals. Culture Festival. Doesn't that sound cool? It sounds like a celebration of something elegant, intelligent, and refined. Of course I went to High School in the notoriously right-wing reactionary and boorish Orange County, California, which has less culture than plain yogurt, as the joke goes, which really isn't much of a joke to those of us who escaped from behind the Orange Curtain. I'm from it, not of it. But enough about me — oh wait, not yet. Why, when I was a girl, we didn't have Culture Festivals. Hell no! We had Pep Rallies! Through years of therapy and judicious medication I've blocked most of it out, but I still occasionally wake up screaming, "But I do have enough pep!" I don't even want to know why or what my subconscious is trying to process through in there. Of course based on what I subject my subconscious to most of the time, I usually feel pretty sorry for it. So it's not really a big surprise when, from time to time, the old subcon strikes back. But enough about me, really, and let's get on with "Flower of Life 2," which is about our heroes, such as they are, and their Culture Festival, such as it is, and whatever else, there isn't a Pep Rally anywhere within ten thousand miles. Yay!

So, anyway, at this Culture Festival, there are several stories going on. Mangas are made, plays are rehearsed, exams are studied for, costumes are made, confessions are blurted out, etc. After Majima discovers Sumiko's talent for manga, he dragoons her into making a dōjinshi to sell at some comic festival. But the rest of the class decides to put her story on as a play. First they cast Haru (our usual hero), but soon discover he can't act his way out of a paper bag. Then they are pretty much forced to cast the future sociopath, Majima, as one hero and the androgynous-tending-toward-lithe-but-butch teacher, Shige, as another. And then we learn more about Shige's sad love affair with her former teacher and now colleague, a married man (which is why I hate hate hate married men who cheat on their wives and there are NO exceptions, full stop. If you are not free, stay far away from me), and proceeds to unburden herself to exactly the wrong person:

Shige: I was such a kid...I can't believe I was so happy I could've died. What an idiot I was I even became a teacher because I idolized him so much. But at the time, that's as far as things went. He had just had his son, and all he ever talked about was his lovely wife. I'm sure I must have been charmed, thinking, 'Oh, what an ideal husband he is,; or something — I don't know. Then I graduated. And four years ago, I came to this school — my first official job as a teacher — and who do I run into but Koyanagi sensei. Of course, my only intention was to get along with him as a colleague...but at the time, it seems he was going through a rough patch with his wife. He was the one who first propositioned me. I know that's no excuse... But it's only recently that I've begun to question myself — am I really drawn to such a loose man who has no qualms about cheating on his family with some other woman? Isn't the man I really fell in love with the Koyanagi sensei of ten years ago, who treated me so kindly as a teacher?

Majima: I see... In other words, you no longer feel moeh for Koyanagi — Is that right?


And on it goes.

I don't want to call this a woman's manga, but there are things in it that only women of a certain age are going to find hysterically funny. The rest of you will just laugh merrily and go your carefree way... for as long as you can.

Highly recommended!

Replies: 1 Comment

Rats! Now you've got me curious! Where can one obtain this book in the NYC metropolitan area, pray tell?

Posted by Ida Vega-Landow @ 05/22/2007 10:56 AM PST

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