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V. B. Rose: Volume 1    by Banri Hidaka order for
V. B. Rose
by Banri Hidaka
Order:  USA  Can
TOKYOPOP, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Banri Hidaka's V. B. Rose is one of the girly-est shojo mangas I have ever read. This is not a bad thing, just a warning to all boys out there that V. B. Rose is chock full of wedding dresses, handbags, butterflies, and bishies.

Ageha has always idealized her older sister, but when 23-year-old Hibari announces that she is pregnant and getting married to her long-time (and boring, according to Ageha) boyfriend, Ageha wants nothing to do with the preparations. Hibari, however, knows the way to her sister's heart, and takes her along to Velvet Blue Rose, the dress shop that is designing her wedding dress. At V. B. R., Ageha meets two handsome young men who have been enquiring around town about her handmade handbags. Even though she is flattered by their compliments on her handiwork, Ageha still cannot help but cause a scene when the reality of her sister's upcoming nuptials hits home.

After cooling down following being thrown out of the shop, Ageha goes back to apologize, but accidently causes the patternmaker to injure his hand. Realizing that this could ruin her sister's special day, Ageha volunteers to help make Hibari's wedding dress, including handling the intricate beading on the bust. Now it is a race to finish the dress as Hibari's hasty wedding approaches.

The beautifully-drawn purses, dresses, and boys are what set V. B. Rose apart from other shojo romances. The story itself is rather flimsy and barely drawn-out enough to cover one volume, much less subsequent volumes (I hope Hidaka has more story lines in store so that Hidari's wedding is not dragged out for too long). Hidaka does have an eye for beautiful things, and this comes through clearly in her seemingly effortless renderings of the work (and the workers) of V. B. R., and also in Ageha's various fun and stylish handbags. The characters are not overdrawn and the background screen tones are light and wispy, helping with the girly, romantic feel prevalent throughout V. B. Rose.

Banri Hidaka's V. B. Rose is a fun manga for girls who want to take a break and totally indulge in the girly side. Those who like their manga with a little more substance, however, should probably look elsewhere.

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