Name of the Flower Volume 2

Name of the Flower Volume 2 by Ken Saito (amazon)

I enjoyed the first volume of Name of the
Flower, and I was happy to see that the second volume was just as good as the first. As the second volume opens Kei has barricaded himself in his room with the terse note “Writing” on the door. Chouko goes back to school and manages to be recruited into joining a club for the first time when she takes pity on an awkward young man named Yousuke. The club turns out to be a literary appreciation society specializing in drinking and the authors of the Taisho era. Chouko is socializing with people her own age for the first time.

Both Kei and Chouko realize that they have feelings for each other, but they react to the situation in different ways. Chouko just becomes overwhelmed and awkward when she’s around Kei, while he keeps isolating himself and making plans to push her away because he thinks she’ll be happier without him. There’s a real sense of darkness and depression that hovers around the edges of this manga that deals with two emotionally fragile main characters. Chouko begins experiencing more things at school thanks to her new club. Her club members are obsessed with Kei, requesting pictures and autographs from Chouko and coming up with a plan to take a trip to the same resort where Kei’s on vacation.

The antics of the Taisho Authors Association and Kei’s irreverent editor Akiyama balance out the more weighty themes of the books. Akiyama observes Kei’s reactions to Chouko and concludes that he’s an idiot. Yousuke and Akiyama compete to see who can recall the most literary references.

Kei’s writing talents are tied to his emotional instability. He went through a period where he ceased writing several years ago. When he’s visiting with a fellow author named Bandou, Bandou comments “I just wanted to see you die of insanity.” Kei asks if Bandou is trying to provoke a fight and Bandou lightly replies that he’s the type to constantly torment a girl he likes. Kei sees Chouko at the resort and assumes that she’s a mirage because he’s been thinking about her so much. He kisses her and is then dismayed to discover that she’s not a figment of his imagination. Later, Yousuke tells Kei how he feels about Chouko and Kei’s reply is “You can’t have her, you know. She’s in love with me.” I’m looking forward to the next two volumes to see how the series concludes.