I disliked the other Banri Hidaka title I’ve read, I Hate You More Than Anyone. I was willing to give Hidaka another shot when I read the first chapter of V.B. Rose in the preview mini-book that was included in the final volume of Fruits Basket. I’m glad I picked up the first two volumes of this series, as it looks like a charming story filled with interconnected characters, arts and crafts, and plenty of heart.
V.B. Rose Volume 1 by Banri Hidaka
Ageha is shocked when her older sister Hibari announces that she’s pregnant and is going to have a rushed wedding. Ageha doesn’t approve of her sister’s ordinary boyfriend, and the idea of a shotgun wedding doesn’t jibe with the image she has of her perfect older sister. Ageha yells that she doesn’t approve and stomps off to talk to her best friend Mamoru. They bond over one of Ageha’s newest creations – an elaborate handbag. Ageha enjoys making bags and giving them to her friends. She always hides an image of a butterfly somewhere in the bags she calls the “Ageha series.” When Ageha and Mamoru are browsing in a bookstore, an older man taps Mamoru on the shoulder and asks if her handbag is an Ageha. Ageha literally runs into another beautiful older man with long flowing hair. The two men are Mitsu and Yukari, and they talk about the handbags. Ageha overhears but discounts their comments, not believing that they’re talking about her.
Ageha is still working through her feelings about her sister’s wedding, but she agrees to go along on a trip to Hibari’s dressmaker. She finds an elaborate boutique called V.B. Rose, filled with fabric, beads, and all the sparkly things that make a girl happy. Ageha is shocked to find that the men she thought were college students are running the business. Yukari, the stern one with the long hair inherited the business from his father. The flirty Mitsu is Yukari’s pattern maker. After Ageha accidentally causes Mitsu’s hand to be injured, she decides that she’ll work at V.B. Rose to help make her sister’s wedding dress. As Ageha learns the elaborate embroidery techniques needed to finish Hibari’s gown she also begins to work through her ambivalent feelings about her sister’s wedding. She’s impressed with the talent and care for craftsmenship on display at the dress shop. While Mitsu elaborately fusses over her, she’s more attracted to the reserved perfectionist Yukari.
V.B. Rose Volume Volume 2 by Banri Hidaka
The second volume opens with Hibari’s wedding. The sisters may have worked things out, but things won’t remain undisturbed for long. Ageha continues to work at the boutique and becomes more conscious of her feelings for Yukari. When she meets Mitsu’s estranged younger brother at a surprise date with her friend Mamoru, she decides that she has to meddle to make sure that everybody can feel as good about their families as she does about hers.
Ageha approaches her life with an openness and the extreme emotions that are going to run rampant in any teenager. It was cute watching how she’d be affected by the simplest comment from Yukari. She genuinely wants everyone around her to be happy and her greatest wish is to be fully accepted into her new family at V.B.Rose. As a knitter I appreciated reading a manga where the characters take such great pride in their craftsmanship.
Hidaka’s art is simple, and it looks like it has become more fluid in the years betweenI Hate You More Than Anyone and V.B. Rose. The greatest details are focused on the things the characters find important like the texture of lace. There aren’t a lot of background drawings, but I found the simplicity of the art refreshing. I liked the cover design for this manga. The floral emblems, white covers, and gold foil evoked the feeling of the wedding industry. I’m glad that I gave Hidaka another try, and I’m curious to see what adventures Ageha has in the future, as the combination of her part-time job and her tendency to meddle will undoubtedly produce plenty of adventures in the wedding business.