This is a little later than usual, but please bear with me - it was a busy Memorial weekend.
Flower of Life (Volume 1)
Flower of Life is another manga from the creator of Antique Bakery, and is more comparable to that great book than the yaoi title The Moon and the Sandals, which I reviewed last week. The art's stronger and the emotions that the creator is going for are dead-on. This book follows Harutaro, who enrolls in school a month late (after taking a year off), following a battle with leukemia. The loud, brash youth doesn't let people feel sorry for him though, speaking up to teachers and pointing out when people are addressing him too formally. He makes friends soon enough in the chubby Shota and the strange Kai Majima, who takes a little warming up to. There's a side story about two teachers at the school and other students become more prominent as the book goes along, then Harutaro's family plays a big role in the final chapter of this volume, but for the most part, Flower of Life focuses on the three friends and their interactions and missteps with one another. It's very slice-of-life, often seeming like little vignettes pulled from the memories of the characters. There are funny moments and one scene that actually startled me, but for the most part, it's just a nice lazy read, perfect for the summer, with enjoyable characters and circumstances. It's not quite as good as Yoshinaga's masterpiece Antique Bakery, but it comes a lot closer in quality than I imagined going in.