Walkin’ Butterfly Volume 2 by Chihiro Tamaki (amazon)
There aren’t that many josei series being published, so having previously enjoyed the first volume of Walkin Butterfly, I was happy to find that the second volume was just as good. Michiko signs on with the talent agency run by “old bat” Tago, and faces a series of obstacles; learning how to walk in high heels, passing out flyers, and being sent to a temple in the mountains where she endures a training regime that wouldn’t be out of place in a martial arts film. She starts auditioning for jobs as a model, but quickly learns that she has a long road ahead of her if she wants to catch up to the fashion designed Miharu.
In the first volume Miharu is enigmatic. He’s presented as an embodiment of the high fashion world and the focus of Miharu’s ambitions to change herself. The second volume provided more of a glimpse into his world. Although he’s successful, he’s dealing with stressful business issues from setting up his own fashion line and he faces the choice of continuing on his own or signing on as a designer to a larger label. Miharu’s family doesn’t approve of his unmanly career in fashion, and his accomplishments are overlooked. We learn that Miharu was awakened to the transformative power of clothes when he was dressing up as Superman with a cape when he was a little boy.
Michiko unwittingly has an effect on Miharu, but it doesn’t help her any when she tries out for his show. Part of the reason why I like Walkin’ Butterfly is that usually in manga a character will pursue a goal with single minded tenacity, but Michiko goes through a more realistic cycle of doubting herself, questioning if she can make it in the fashion industry, and then going back with renewed determination. The supporting characters in Walkin’ Butterfly remain interesting as well. In addition to learning more about Miharu, Michiko finds out about Toda’s past as a model and the cute truck driver Nishikino pops up to be supportive.