Reviewby Lissa Pattillo, Dec 19th 2010
Domoto has asked Choko to live with him and the two prepare to take the next step in their relationship after the hurdle of first sex was overcome. Just when things are looking domestically blissful, Choko's family experiences a distracting loss. Years of preparing to buy back Choko's family's land, Domoto has the funds for just such an emergency which leaves them less time to mourn and more time to deal with their own issues. Despite all attempts to bring about their next sexual experience, Domoto finds himself unable to fully perform out of fear of causing Choko harm. While he strives to see his Lady satisfied regardless, Choko wants little more than to see their relationship finally settle on a more equal level and leave their roles as Master and Servant behind them. Warning: Series and review contains mature content.
Butterflies, Flowers is a bit of an anomaly amidst English-released manga. The creator, Yuki Yoshihara, is best known for her maturely-targeted shoujo series that love to tackle copulation-comedy. This series is no exception while telling the story of two children separated when once child and servant only to be reunited later with the tables turned as boss and employer and then soon enough lovers. Even though it's often serious and quite dramatic, the book never lets you forget it's intended silliness, ensuring throughout that even the most potentially steamy moment simply bookends one far less serious, such as a comforting bath interrupted by a bare-butt chibi. Even if this particular brand of humor isn't your cup of tea, it's still worth cheering for a series offering pure shoujo entertainment for an often neglected older audience.
Domoto and Choko continue to work through their own dating paces here in volume five. The two are boss and employee at work, lovers when alone and master and servant everywhere in between. In the previous volume Domoto asked Choko to move in with him and after a few minor misunderstandings, their first night living together is upon them. But their attempts at 'second sex' are foiled by a more dramatic turn of events when Choko receives the call that her family's restaurant and home has burnt down. It's hardly worth getting too invested in the possible-drama though - what begins as an almost shocking two-page spread quickly dissipates with an easy quick-fix and all is well.
The story is thus free to wallow around in Domoto and Choko's lives again, specifically their sexual endeavors, or, as has become the running gag, the lack there of. The two have already had sex once and Domoto is determined to have it happen again, and Choko's actually anticipating it as well. And yet, for all his previous gusto, Domoto seems oddly reserved this time around. Confident as he is in his abilities and his, ahem, 'barge pole', he's struck with a fear of causing Choko anymore pain like that she experienced losing her virginity to him.
Having a volume focus more on Domoto trying to please Choko makes for a refreshing new angle, however fleeting. Moments of Domoto acting more like a gentleman, however absurdly executed at times, is actually a domineering feature with less time spent seeing him being overly-controlling or just downright creepy. He steps up to help Choko and her family, comforts her when she needs it and rushes to her aid when he feels she requires it. Even all pride-wrenching problems aside, he remains determined to see to it Choko remains sexually satisfied as well. While sex itself, though predominantly suggested more than ever shown, in shoujo manga isn't entirely uncommon, seeing a woman receive oral on a flower-background page certainly stands out in a book with Shojo Beat neatly printed on the spine.
On her side of things, Choko is dead-set on Domoto dropping the formalities between them which stem back to his original role as servant to her family. In previous volumes, with Domoto spending so much time coercing or outright forcing her into things, it was often a surprise being reminded of these overhanging roles. Even now it only feels evident when Domoto is pampering her for reasons that don't directly suggest he's just out for sex, flash-backing to their childhood or during the moments when Choko takes steel-faced verbal control of a situation and Domoto bows back in welcome subjugation. In just such an instance, Choko gives Domoto an ultimatum that turns almost all past conflicts on their head - have full, all-the-way sex with her or else he must renounce their roles as Milady and servant.
Relationship troubles and family dynamics aside, Butterflies, Flowers is a comedy through and through. While not anywhere near as necessary in this volume as it has been in the past, the comedy has always been an integral part of being able to look past how unsettling the lead relationship often is. It's easy to just sit back and focus more on how much fun reading the story is despite it. Viz Media's edition comes alive with the adapter's snappy word-choices, complimenting the artist's physical humor and offering plenty of laugh out loud moments in combination. Masayuki Domoto is as dominating in this element of the story as he is in the 'romance' and for a welcome change of pace readers will spend much of this fifth volume laughing entirely at his expense. He weeps over misconceptions of his relationship with Choko, and reels at a description of his impotence lacking any kind of emotional consideration. From wacky poses to soul-crushed expressions, this is another volume that doesn't disappoint those who've stuck around for the laughs, which is probably the majority of readers at this point.
Butterflies, Flowers is a romantic-comedy romp for shoujo fans that holds back few punches, earning its mature rating and playing with the freedom it offers to great effect. While you may not find yourself cheering for Domoto and Choko a good portion of the time, it still won't stop you from coming back for more opportunities to laugh at them in all the intended ways.
Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : B
+ Abundant comedy and entertainingly silly situations played out with fun artwork and a solid, complimenting English adaptation; offers up mature humour rarely found in the translated genre
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