Chou yo Hana yo / Butterflies (Vol. 1), Flowers by Yoshihara Yuki

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Every once and a while, I think to myself: You should try a straight romance, maybe you’ll like it.

So, I took  Chou yo Hana yo / Butterflies, Flowers out of the library.

I clearly don’t understand straight people.

 

SPOILERS

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To be fair to all y’all straight folks out there, it’s possible that what I don’t find hot is this particular scenario.

Here’s what the back cover copy says:

“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?”

No, would be my answer. But, we’ll get to that in a second.

Choko’s boss is more than ‘eccentric,’ he’s an a$$hole–a sexually harassing asshole. Her first interview question?

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I’ll tell you, if you tell me, buddy.

Rather than storm out or toss water in his face, like the heroine of  Happy Marriage?! , Choko stammers out the truth: yeah, actually, she is. Creepy boss guy (the love interest, naturally,) is all, “All righty then.”

And she gets the job.

I don’t know what is happening in Japan in 2006 (when this was written), but you’d think a job sweeping streets would be better than agreeing to work with this guy. (Heck, I know, maybe you should go work for the Midnight Occult Civil Servants!)

But, this is a trope, I guess? Hotty tyrant boss?

I suppose the appeal is being the person who sees through to the tyrant’s softer side? I mean, I think this could work, if it was done as character development.  Instead there’s this weird built-in mcguffin, wherein hotty tyrant, Chief Duomoto, was once Cha-chan, a loyal household servant to Choko’s family.

So, instead of getting to see Duomoto’s softer side slowly emerge with Choko’s coaxing, he just flips a switch every time they’re in private. He calls her m’lady, but he seems as controlling as ever, showing up to drive her to work, micromanage her life, etc., etc.

Honestly? In my opinion, there’s nothing that’s redeeming about him.

I briefly thought I might like Duomoto, when we’re introduced to the flirty secretary Suou.

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Are they lovers? I think it’s all a big tease, but Suou knows where everything is kept in Duomoto’s apartment (including the sex toys,) kisses him when they’re reunited, and vibes very much like an ex-.

Yet, Suou is… well, Suou self-describes as a cross-dresser. Yet, the pronoun that Suou is first introduced with is she, and she uses the women’s bathroom. We very, very rarely see Suou in men’s clothing.

Thing is, I would like Duomoto better if Suou was an ex. Not because it would mean he was gay (because if Suou is a trans woman, he’s not,) but because Suou totally stands up to him and gives as good as she gets. And, it would make it seem like Duomoto actually wants an equal partner.

Except, when Duomoto is having a fever dream (from overwork, naturally,) he shows just what an a$$hole he remains:

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Haha, dreaming of raping the trans woman/crossdressing guy.  Le sigh. I’m sorry, but I’m never gonna fall for you now, no matter how many ‘m’ladies’ and bows you drop.

So, I gave up on this one after two volumes.

I mean, it does have it’s funny points? There’s a running gag about how Choko’s dad is terrible at making soba, which would be fine, except that he’s running a soba shop since they lost their family fortune. Choko’s younger brother apparently talks like he’s in the Edo period and loves to go on about he’s the heir apparent, even though there’s nothing to inherit. Some of that is quite funny, so I mean, it isn’t all awful.

I’m probably supposed to find the hot and cold personality shifts of Duomoto funny. Humor is a hard sell for me, for one, and, for another, I like romances? So, I tend to like the actual relationship stuff to be a bit more realistic?  It’s probably coming in the later volumes, so if you want to read it and report back to me, that’d be great.

I’m just not going to read any more of it myself.  🙂

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