This series Flower of Life, centers on the complex lives of a group of high-schoolers. Traditionally her characters have been older, some even facing mid-life crises, but this time she has developed a true, and honest feeling, coming of age story. The characters Harutaru, Shota and Majima, are all high-school students facing different obstacles. The story begins with Harutaru's arrival at school. Haru arrives mid-year because he had been hospitalized and treated for Leukemia, his boisterous personality, blunt honesty and positive attitude, and bleached hair are his trademarks. He instantly befriends Shota, a pudgy little fanboy who is too cute for words (everybody thinks so), and creates a quick enemy of Majima, a pale (creepily beautiful) otaku with serious personality issues.
|Harutaru and Shota|
How cute is Shota? Supercute! Haru talks about wanting to eat him up.
My favorite part of this series comes in the last volume. In it, Shota (writer) and Haru (illustrator) decide to take their little manga club, and their doujinshi (an amateur or fan created manga--some are original stories, and some are fan fictions) to the next level. The two make a good team, although they struggle with their egos like any duo working on a creative endeavor. The story of the two boys struggling to find success in manga writing and illustration may be a way for Yoshinaga to share her experiences as a manga-ka. Shota, even says at one point, "I'm expressing in manga what I can't explain in words." This statement may speak to Yoshinaga's approach to manga writing. Certainly her work has a subtlety and maturity that many writers shy away from. I suppose critics of her work could suggest that she is a little obscure and slow-moving in regards to plot, but I like to think that like all good writers, plot is a product of character development. Yoshinaga is not just a good artist, she is a good storyteller. I recommend all of her work. I haven't seen anything by this manga-ka that hasn't been interesting and insightful. She speaks, even in her few yaoi titles, about the human experience: love, pain, insecurity, desire, fear...all the things that make us human.