“Sometimes I feel like we're lost children, endlessly going around in circles as we try to find our way.”
That's how Nakamura Ryou feels as he contemplates his situation at one point near the end of this heart-warming manga. Contrary to the statement, however, the story does not go around in circles, but rather flows smoothly and convincingly.
Flowers is one of those seemingly ordinary BL manga that in Miyamoto Kano's hands turns into something far from ordinary. When newcomer Ryou spots his two male housemates kissing, his past misgivings about his own sexuality begins to resurface. He finds himself getting attracted to the alluring Makoto (who
wastes no time making a move on him), intrigued by the mysterious Nanno and at the same time, envious and insecure of the history between the two men. Before long, he gets entangled in their relationship.
At a glance, this may seem slightly messed up, but it never felt ridiculous or forced. Naive Ryou is understandably confused as he tries to find himself and learns about love from two vastly different persons. Nanno's distant but perceptive personality conflicts with Makoto's sweet but fickle ways. Sometimes it feels as though Ryou is just getting swept along for the ride, but he certainly grows along the way. The three of them definitely had some of the most arresting dynamics I've seen in love triangles. It was almost painful to watch the characters feeling lost as they hurt one another, even as they're in love and hurt themselves, hanging on to the idea things will work out.
Even the two minor characters are relatively well-developed for a one-volume manga. Both the painter and landlord provide comic relief as well as act as tools for the growth of the main characters. I even felt sympathetic towards the landlord for having to deal with so much drama under his roof.
Most of the story is told from Ryou's point of view, so we get free access to his mind, but not the others – who are arguably more interesting. But just like Ryou, the readers often rely on Makoto and Nanno's expressions to understand more about them; the art obliges by having plenty of close-up shots that reveal their feelings. Another thing I liked about the art is how each character looked their part: Ryou appeared inexperienced, Nanno deep and tortured, and Makoto like the irresistible man he is.
'Flower Children' is a short doujinshi that illustrates life after 'Flowers'. Knowing Miyamoto's habit of releasing related doujinshi titles years after the release of the main series, little details that seem irrelevant now may take on a whole new meaning later, like the little 'secret' that lies within the handmade paperweight Makoto presented as a gift.
Overall, Flowers is a profoundly moving manga that does an amazing job potraying the frustration people feel as they endlessly go around in circles, hoping their relationships would somehow blossom. In Flowers, this circuitous journey was definitely not pointless, and at the end of it – as trite as it sounds – each character managed to find their way, even if they have yet to arrive at their destinations.
- Written for the Miyamoto Kano Society -