Manga-ka: Lily Hoshino
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: October 2009
Synopsis: “The honeymoon’s not quite over yet… The Souda family tradition of marrying off its younger sons to male clan members leaves no generation untouched! Childhood friends Ritsu and Kouichirou may have taken their first, tentative steps into married life in Mr. Flower Bride, but now they have to wrangle with past loves, new misunderstandings… and each other (!!) to get to matrimonial bliss!”
A sequel to Mr. Flower Bride, Mr. Flower Groom follows the series’ newly wed couple – Ritsu and Kouchirou. They may still have their insecurities to deal with but it’s evident there’s more than just tradition binding the two together. But even with positive premise memories from the last book, are the characters themselves compelling enough to leave us fervent for this follow-up?
Unfortunately there just isn’t enough substance to this book’s title story. Sure it’s sweet and romantic but it all just falls short when the two lead characters feel so characteristically shallow and flat. Ritsu remains the more emotional of the two, torn between being too prideful to openly show how he feels for Kouichirou while at the same time struggling with loving him so much that he falls victim to jealousy, anxiety and doubt.
While this may sound like a good balance of affection and apprehension from at least one of the two, the plot regrettably treads like a story we’ve read a million times before, with an adverse lack of any real intensity when the characters’ internal qualms are played out in the same even-toned fashion as everything else they say, think and do. It’s the kind of mellow personality that’s rampant in Lily Hoshino’s work and while sometimes it works nicely in the story’s favour, here it just lacks a necessary oomph.
Many aspects of the story were just too stereotypical to the genre while at the same time lacking the overused plot devices that at least spark some dramatic life into an otherwise weepy tale of expectant romantic-admittance. Ritsu and Kouichirou’s tiring escapades lead up to an eventual sex scene that, though perhaps pleasing fans who can’t wait for that inevitable climax (excuse the pun), it falls short compensating for the redundancy of the rest of the story. It’s not even to say that Mr. Flower Groom is bad, it’s just notably dull.
Following the title story were two short unrelated chapters that proved more entertaining as far as boys’ love antics goes. The first tosses readers into a classic high school scenario of two students, and though there isn’t much in the way of plot past boy talks with boy, boys sleep together, the interaction between the two proved enjoyably entertaining, as does the subsequent banter during and following the sex scene. This story takes a mild fetish for glasses with an quick emotionally uninvolved relationship and gives it some fun humour.
The second short story on the other hand suffers from the same mediocrity as the title portion, proving somewhat touching on the romantic side but the characters play out their respective roles in a way that seems like a hundred Hoshino short-story character before them. Admittedly however I did still enjoy this tale of forbidden love between a man and his young ‘good luck charm’ but I’m also a sucker for the artist’s cross-dressing pretty boys. Notoriously young and feminine in appearance, these Lily Hoshino boys have a certain distinctive charm to them and at the very least feel distinctly her and thus more memorable than just another set of high school boys.
Mr. Flower Groom is bolstered by an unobtrusive and smooth English release, including a pleasant full colour insert, but the solid work by Yen Press is a lack of something bad that doesn’t make up for the lack of something especially good. I stand to my thoughts that Mr. Flower Groom isn’t a bad book, but by the end I felt so under whelmed by it that I’d hardly call it a satisfying endeavour. Still, those who enjoyed Mr. Flower Bride will likely find its predecessor, Mr. Flower Groom, worth a read and fans of Lily Hoshino’s art work will still be pleased to find her distinguishing style well in tact.