Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Merry Month of Manga Review: V. B. ROSE

As we approach June, we launch head-first into wedding season.  Since I already covered Wedding Peach, there's really only one other wedding-themed shoujo series I could review.

V. B. ROSE (V. B. Rozu), by Banri Hikada.  First published in 2004, and first published in North America in 2008.


Ageha loves and idolizes her older sister Hibari.  That's why she is aghast when Hibari announced that she is pregnant and marrying her long-time boyfriend - to her, her idol has been ruined.  Hibari manages to bring her sister around to the idea when she offers to let Ageha help her find a wedding dress, since Ageha has such a keen interest in sewing and fashion.  Together the two go to Velvet Blue Rose, an exclusive boutique run by the handsome duo of Yukari and Mitsuya.  When one of them hurts their hand, Ageha offers to fill in for him, and as she works on her sister's dress she comes to terms with Hibari and her own ideals.


I've read a lot of middling shoujo stories since I started running this blog, but few annoyed me in the way that V. B. Rose did, and all the blame lies entirely on its heroine.  Ageha spent the entire volume acting like an insufferable brat.  She's not just overprotective of her sister, she's outright entitled and has put her sister on this impossible pedestal of perfection.  She treats her sister's pregnancy and marriage like her own failing, and every single time she started to angst I wanted to reach through the page, shake her and scream "YOU ARE NOT YOUR SISTER'S KEEPER!"  Some would try to write off Ageha's drama queen moments as mere teenage melodramatics, but being a teenager is no excuse for being a selfish brat.  It's the sort of drama that could (and is) solved by having a proper conversation with her sister about her feelings, and it's sad that the whole story centers on such contrived melodramatics.

Considering what a brat Ageha was for most of this volume, it's easy to forget that there's also a half-baked romance plotline going on as well.  Both guys have only the barest wisps of personality, and the only mildly interesting thing about them is that the light-haired guy is the moody, douchey one and the dark-haired is the kindly, more princely sort.  There's a bit of romantic tension between Ageha and the light-haired one, but it's fleeting and ultimately without consequence.  That's a good summary of this manga - fleeting, without consequence, and add to that 'kind of annoying.'  It's a shame because the relationship between Ageha and Hibari is by far the strongest element here, but it's hard to enjoy it when Ageha keeps making everything about her and her feelings.


The art is mostly uninspired and a touch out of fashion for the time it was released.  The character designs are simple, skinny, and stylized and their eyes are drawn over their hair, and I wouldn't blame anyone for thinking that they were drawn closer to 1994 than 2004.  It's expressive enough, but it's also kind of flat-looking since Hikada chose not to shade anything and keeps the backgrounds rather vague.  There's simply not much to say about the art and not much to recommend it.


Honestly, if it weren't for Ageha being so aggravating and having such a complex towards her sister,  I doubt I would have remembered anything about V. B. Rose.  Much like last season's fashion, this series should be left on the shelf.

This series was published by Tokyopop.  This series is complete in Japan with 14 volumes available.  12 volumes were published and all are currently out of print.

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