Name of the Flower Volume 3

The Name of the Flower Volume 3 by Ken Saito

One of the many things I like about this series is the way the point of view will sometimes shift from character to character, giving the reader a chance to get to know the supporting cast a little better by seeing their inner thoughts. The third volume of this series shifts the focus to the cheerful and ever persistent editor Akiyama. We see the origins of his friendship with the moody author Kei when they were in college. The relationship between Kei and Chouko hits a crisis point as Kei abruptly leaves to be by himself, sending Chouko into a deep depression. A woman from Kei and Aikiyama’s past threatens to make the situation even worse.

There’s a turning point for the series in this volume, as the reader finally learns about Kei’s family history and the reasons why he struggles with relationships. The next volume is the concluding one, and I’m curious to see if there will be a happy ending for the moody couple of Kei and Chouko. While it is obvious that they find happiness with each other when they let themselves,they are both so emotionally unstable in their own ways and I’m not sure if a relationship that seems to be based somewhat on mutual dependency is going to work out. Despite the almost overwhelming moodiness of the plot, there are small moments that bring light and happiness to the characters. Chouko contemplates her garden, and her friends from school visit her.

Part of me wants someone to grab the main characters by the shoulders and give them a good shaking and a prescription for Prozac. But if that happened, that would take away from the moody charm of the book which has one of the best portrayals of inner darkness and despair I’ve read in a manga.