Thursday, August 5, 2010

V.B. Rose Volume 9

By Banri Hidaka. Released in Japan by Hakusensha, serialized in the magazine Hana to Yume. Released in North America by Tokyopop.

Having spent the last few volumes getting Yukari and Ageha together, this volume takes a much needed breather from romantic subplots. We do see moments of the two of them being an adorable couple, and they kiss and such. But it's not actually the focus of the plot, as this volume manages to be one of the most fashion-focused yet, and also shows that the staff of V.B. Rose, as well as their ancillary friends, are more of a 'nakama' n a One Piece way than anything else.

Things start off when Sakura brings over a plot point... pardon me, a cute little cat. Despite being scolded by his mother, and being told that the cat can't be inside a dress shop. You can see where this is going. Yup, in the following chapter, the cat claws the dress, ruining weeks' worth of work. The expressions on everyone's faces when they see this is priceless. Much as I love seeing her cheery happy faces as well, no one draws people looking grey with shock and horror quite like Hidaka-san.

So it's time to go into emergency mode, and redesign the dress to disguise the claw marks. Ichihashi gets to show off her serious side when sewing beads together lightning fast (and I loved the interplay between her and Kuromine, as he tries to stop himself from... well, being himself), to the point where they falls over exhausted. Maki is brought over from I Hate You More Than Anyone! land once more, to redesign her hairstyle to fit the new design. Kana is there as well, showing more emotion than we've seen from her the entire manga when she threatens Yukari with death if this happens again.

And Ageha gets to sit there and not do a lot. Clearly her accessories didn't need to be redone for the new design, and that means she's the only one left standing around, a fact she laments. But that's OK, as she gets tons of spotlight once the actual Bridal Fair occurs, and we get shot after shot of her and Yukari (who shows up, in a surprise that really isn't one, in a handsome suit. Best of all, the dress gets to show off its disguise abilities, and we see its transformation! Ageha has fantastic legs. :)

I will admit that not everything worked for me this volume. While Sekiguchi's backstory is meant to be of the 'I am watching over him the best way I can' school of shoujo, his character is so one-note, even surrounding his flashbacks, that it didn't really do much for me. And I miss Rei, but that's just my spoiled Akiyoshi-lovin' side talking.

And then we get the cliffhanger, as the person who's been calling the shop and then hanging up over and over again becomes clear. Yes, we're 5 volumes from the end, and the main couple are together, so it's time to start wrapping up loose ends. And since I think we're a volume or two from delving into the twisted relationship of Ichihashi and Kuromine, so instead we get Yukari's mother, showing up in a fancy car and no doubt ready to cause havoc. What sort of havoc we'll have to wait till Vol. 10 to see.

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