Flowers & Bees (Volume 1)
Based on the description of this title, I didn't really expect to like this book. It's about a loser in high school - Masao Komatsu - who goes to great lengths to become a girl magnet. Shunned and teased in school, Masao decides to go to a men's salon (after seeing a man he admires duck into one), a place called World of Beautiful Men, and get made over by the eccentric stylists, in the pursuit of his goal.
The characters of this book aren't exactly the most fully-realized. Masao himself comes to several very generic realizations about people around him: women like jerks, etc. The plot pretty much speaks for itself as our protagonist makes several overhauls to his appearance via World of Beautiful Men, and measures the results based on the attention he receives from strangers and classmates alike. In the process, he makes some realizations, with a little help from his stylists, about how self-respect has just as much of an effect on how people perceive him as the effort he puts into grooming.
I really loved the art of this book. Moyoco Anno adopts a different style than I'm used to in the manga I read, but it's really beautiful. My only problem with what I read in the first volume was that I had trouble distinguishing a few key players: the love interest Noriko, and Masao's classmate Sakura who seems destined to fall hard for him despite her constant barrage of offensive remarks. I often found myself pausing when the girls appeared to figure out if she were one or the other, taking me out of the story momentarily. This could have been more my fault than the artist's, however, as I probably should have paid more attention to distinguishing characteristics upon their initial appearances.
This was just another manga title that surprised me with its overall quality. I tried something outside of what I usually read and was once again impressed with what I experienced and intend to follow up on additional volumes of the series. It was ultimately a very silly look at the world of metrosexuals, but I had a great time reading it. A-
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