Manga-ka: Yuki Yoshihara
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: December 2009
Synopsis: “Choko Kuze is the sensible daughter of a venerable family who went bankrupt. She joins a real estate company as an entry-level office worker, but her eccentric boss is harder on her than anyone else in the company! After hearing him inadvertently call her “milady,” she realizes he was the young servant boy she knew as a child. At work he’s a tyrant, but after hours he insists on treating her like a lady of the nobility. Is romance even possible for a couple locked in such a crazy role reversal?”
The cover of Butterflies, Flowers is quick to invoke the thoughts of a deep love between two individuals, one adorned in a suit with his protective disposition and the other a lovely woman in a kimono laying in his embrace – is this a sweet tale of adult romance? You may be inclined to think so but flip the book over and you’ll quickly realize something quite amiss with your initial impressions.
Choko Kuze was once the child of a rich family, a family that has since been financially humbled. That’s all in the past however and today Choko’s thoughts are on finding a good job and tending to her family, not all of whom are as adaptable as her. But her first day of a new job hits a snag when her new boss asks a surprisingly inappropriate question, yet this proves only the tip of his oddity iceberg.
The man, Domoto Masayuki, actually turns out to be a childhood friend – the child of Choko’s family servant in fact. It may’ve been years since then but Domoto still holds a servant’s loyal dedication to his master and Choko is the focus of his thoughts. And yet his dedication to her is often at odds with his role as her boss and Choko soon finds herself either hounded with criticism or possessively protected.
The dynamic of their relationship is often shifting like this, with Domoto being her borderline-abusive boss in one instance and then her unabashed servant the next. While the comedy this back and forth contrast provides is key for keeping the story interesting, it also creates a rather unhealthy relationship between the two that isn’t easy to get attached to at first. Granted at least one side of Domoto’s personality is better than the bad-boy character that most shoujo heroines can be expected to fall for. Yet by the end of the book there’s some genuine charm to their growing relationship and when Choko begins learning to turn her Domoko-imposed position of power to her benefit, there are some romantic moments bound to put a momentary smile on her any shoujo fans’ face.
These commanding moments aren’t restricted to dealing with Domoko inclusively though and Choko’s inner aristocrat often arises to direct a chaotic situation, which only further feeds Domoto’s infatuation. These are some of the most enjoyable moments of the book, watching Choko stand up tall, order those around her and firmly establish authority in a circumstance that lacks it. It’s also a great reprieve from watching her be otherwise proverbially stepped on in situations that may leave readers waiting to see her snap.
From the very beginning it’s evident reading Butterflies, Flowers that the artist has had fun weaving a story that joyfully jests with some well-known shoujo stereotypes, including the appearance of a physically touchy acquaintance of Domoto for competition and a sudden collapse due to fever providing a situation ripe with potential for the budding couple. The appeal of the artwork, which has a slightly more mature look to it while maintaining ample charisma in its comedic moments, helps bring the story together for an all together entertaining package. Readers may flip-flop on cheering and jeering for the couple but for a series that takes pleasure in defying expectations of its genre, this is a first volume well worth checking out just to join in on the fun.