Saturday, May 16, 2009

Walkin' Butterfly, vol. 2

I'm not sure if I mentioned this before, but I'm rereading this series as I await publication of the fourth and final volume.

The story: In this volume, Michiko starts making *some* headway towards becoming a professional model. Unfortunately, her method amounts to "two steps forward, one step back." While she's found a manager, she's still very much a work in progress, as we see her self-defeating behavior rear its ugly head from time to time. We also get a glimpse into what drives Mihara and see some covert and not-so-covert moments between him and Michiko. It's also a little heartwarming to see Michiko's persistence and how it affects Mihara.

Reaction: My favorite elements in this volume were those in which Michiko was interacting with others. From learning more about her manager, Kyo Tago, a washed-up former model, to her moments with Mihara, Michiko begins to shine in this volume. However, Michiko still has "the fear" and lets her self-doubt get the best of her.

Deep thoughts: Michiko's character growth begins in earnest in this volume, as does Mihara's. Their parallel journeys are less of a protagonist/antagonist and more of the hero/anti-hero as Mihara's decision to stay true to himself creatively makes him more than just an ordinary villain. This volume also reveals what Mihara's had to fight in his past in order to earn the success he has thus far.

Artwork: The artwork in this volume is slightly more refined than the first -- there's less of that erratic sketching quality and I think it reflects Michiko's newfound sense of self. She is less of a volatile personality and the artwork reflects that in small ways. It may also simply be the fact that the artist herself "pinned down" her style in this volume. My only gripe is the similarity between two middle-aged male characters, Samejima and Gotoh. Gotoh is a passing character, so his doppleganger-esque qualities can be overlooked for now.

The verdict: Highly recommended. I still really like where this is going -- we're given glimpses of what Michiko can become if she simply perseveres and believes in herself. The continuing parallels with Mihara show how both characters are changing for the better. Walkin' Butterfly is available in the U.S. from Aurora.

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