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Manga Review: Boys Over Flowers Volume One by Yoko Kamio

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Boys Over Flowers Volume One is a manga by Yoko Kamio, and it was published by Viz Media in 2003. The series is rated “T” for teens; after reading this volume, I would agree with this rating.

Tsukushi Makino is a high school student attending the prestigious Eitoku Academy; unfortunately, she’s from a middle class family, while most of the student body come from wealthy families.

There is a group of four boys called the “F4,” who are the most powerful, rich and handsome boys at Eitoku Academy. They’re the clique that essentially “rules the school,” and anyone who stands up to them or crosses them are bullied by them. Tsukushi tries hard not to stand out in order to avoid being noticed by the F4.

One day, Tsukushi’s friend Makiko falls down the stairs and accidentally kicks Domyoji, the leader of the F4, in the face. When Domoyoji refuses to accept Makiko’s apology, Tsukushi jumps in and stands up to the F4. The next day, she receives a “declaration of war” from the F4, and the other students begin to ostracize her. The volume focuses on the F4’s attempts at bullying Makiko, how Makiko handles what’s going on, and the unexpected love triangle that seems to be developing.

Like A Devil and Her Love Song, Boys Over Flowers also focuses on a girl who is being bullied. However, the main characters of these series are being bullied for very different reasons. In A Devil and Her Love Song, Maria is being bullied by both her peers and her teachers due to a reputation she had gained for being expelled from her previous school. In Boys Over Flowers, Tsukushi is being bullied by a group of boys and the students who want to stay in the F4’s good graces, because of the fact that she stood up for what she believes in and the fact that she’s only middle class when most of the student body at the school is upper class.

The forms of bullying between the two manga are also rather different. In A Devil and Her Love Song, the bullying is done primarily through shunning and twisting facts. In Boys Over Flowers, Domoyoji uses his wealth to convince others to commit acts that are more physical in nature. There is one attempted physical act in Volume One that is rather shocking; however, I’m not going to say what that act is, because I don’t want to provide a spoiler.

The end of this volume includes a short story that isn’t part of the Boys Over Flowers storyline. Unfortunately, I have no idea what the title of this short story is, because there is no English translation provided for it; all that’s shown for the title are the Japanese characters. A girl named Miki believes she has abilities to predict the future, communicate telepathically, and things like this. She’s been seeing a boy in her dreams, and one day, she runs into him. Since she believes they’re meant to be together, she follows him around.

Personally, I wasn’t terribly impressed by this short story. I didn’t really like Miki, and to me, the story seemed rather flat. The short story was the worst part of this volume of Boys Over Flowers; unfortunately, if I read something right, it appears this short story will continue in the next volume of Boys Over Flowers.

Boys Over Flowers has an interesting story about bullying that has developed by the end of Volume One, but I think the bullying aspect ends up being done a little better in A Devil and Her Love Song. While there is definitely bullying going on in both stories, I think the bullying in A Devil and Her Love Song is a bit more realistic and a little more relatable for the average manga reader. Some of the things that happen in Boys Over Flowers rely heavily on “class warfare,” and are mainly possible due to the wealth of the bullies.

Boys Over Flowers isn’t bad for a shojo manga, and high school age readers will probably enjoy the story because they’ll more than likely see a little bit of themselves in Tsukushi.

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About Lesley Aeschliman

Lesley Aeschliman is a freelance writer who began writing on a full-time basis in 2007. She has served as the Anime editor at BellaOnline.com, and she also writes and maintains two blogs: Lesley's Musings... on Anime and Manga and AeschTunes.