Fumi Yoshinaga’s artistry and strength as a keen observer of life is on display in the satisfying conclusion of her slice-of-life series Flower of Life.
I came into Flower of Life expecting something new, something above and beyond what Yoshinaga had already accomplished in volumes 1-3. That was a mistake, I think. I had forgotten the genius of this comic is the fact that every situation, scene, panel, relationship, and emotion is something we can relate to.
My first read through was devoted purely to the level of content. What happens with everyone’s (least) favorite teacher-student couple, Majima and Shigeru? Do Harutaro and Shota make their comic book dreams come true? Does Harutaro’s sister overcome her agoraphobia? Which of Harutaro’s classmates, i.e. the comic’s background players, get to shine in the spotlight in this volume? And so on and so forth. I loved these characters, of course I wanted to know what happened to them.
Yet! “What happens in the end” is never the point of Flower of Life. I admit while I can usually appreciate slice-of-life comics on an intellectual level, most of the time they don’t usually move me emotionally. In the case of FoL, though, Yoshinaga understands life so well that both the mundane and the dramatic are completely relatable. She makes us appreciate something as simple and selfish as the distance we put between ourselves and a friend when their life is going better than ours, or something as shocking and heartbreaking as our loved ones keeping a terrible secret from us concerning our very future. The latter situation is much less likely to happen to us than the former but both are human experiences and, therefore, Yoshinaga’s undisputed territory as a storyteller.
In the end, you can’t really read Flower of Life for “what happens” to characters, but for what could or has happened. And because it’s Yoshinaga you can bet that either way it’s much funnier in the comic than it was when it happened to you that one time.
Review Copy of Flower of Life volume 4 provided by DMP.
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