Monday, December 24, 2012

Manga Review: Stepping on Roses, Volume 8, by Rinko Ueda

Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5 (can be upped to a four)
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat)
Volumes: 9

Goodreads Synopsis:

Poor Sumi Kitamura… Her irresponsible older brother Eisuke keeps bringing home orphans for her to take care of even though they can barely afford their own basic needs! Just when Sumi's financial problems become dire, wealthy Soichiro Ashida enters her life with a bizarre proposition: he'll provide her with the money she so desperately needs if she agrees to marry him. But can Sumi fool high society into thinking she's a proper lady? Moreover, is it worth giving up everything for this sham of a marriage? Sumi asks Nozomu to stop buying the land where she and Soichiro currently reside, and he agrees on one condition—Sumi has to leave Soichiro and become his wife instead! Faced with the possibility of eviction, Sumi must decide whether she’ll live in poverty with Soichiro or take Nozomu up on his offer…

Reads R to L (Japanese Style) for teen plus audiences.

Available on Amazon.


This series is somewhat of a guilty pleasure type shojo, just because it’s… in a way, not very good. Most of the time, at least. I mean, most of the characters are not the best, including the heroine (most of the time, but maybe that’s changing? More on that in a moment) and the villain, and the romance is pretty much what you’d expect it to be, and sometimes it seems that drama is caused for drama’s sake, and it’s so over the top dramatic and cheesy. And yet, I really enjoy reading it. But, then again, that shouldn’t be a surprise given how much I usually like dramas.
At the moment, I have mixed feelings about Sumi, the heroine. Up until now, I wasn’t such a big fan, because she’s so weak, and is always only doing things to please some man, and she doesn’t really stick up for anything. In this volume, she does at first turn down Nozomu’s offer/threat, but when her family gets kicked out of their home, since Nozomu bought the land, and no one will hire Soichiro, she goes to Nozomu and, since she’s now living with him, he lets her family move back into their home.
And at first this move just annoyed me, because, really? You’re going to fall into his trap that easily? But, near the end of the volume, it’s revealed that she’s planning to take Nozomu down and bring Soichiro back to his job from the inside. Which, I don’t know, seems a bit sketchy and I think I just don’t see her as the devious and mischevious type and so I’m having a hard time believing it. And, I have a hard time believing that she’s going to be the mastermind behind it all, and not find someone else to do it for her. I just… I haven’t gotten to see her doing anything but be pushed around and cry and beg, so, while I would like this change to be true, it’s not very believable.
I also want her to be a bit more demanding and stick up for herself. At the beginning of the volume, she tries to earn money by playing shogi, which I thought was a really smart move, but then Soichiro had to come in and be all ‘this is dangerous’, and of course she listened. I don’t see why she couldn’t have continued doing that, maybe gambling some, and have Soichiro or her brother nearby watching to make sure none of the men get out of hand. Because I don’t see why it’s so bad; I mean, it is dangerous, but I think the fact they need money is more important. Then later, the other societal wives think she’s some gold digger, and she does hold her head high as they push her around, but she doesn’t really try to prove to them that they’re wrong. She does kind of try to earn her trust back from Miu, Nozomu’s wife, and while I do like what she does to get it back, and it was courageous of her to do that, I still think that she mostly rolled over and did what she wanted, even though Miu wasn’t really the nicest during all of it. I mean, Miu had her reasons for bullying, but Sumi wasn’t really at fault, Nozomu was, and Miu should apologize as well.
Throughout all of this, Soichiro is working his butt off, and I feel sorry for him. He doesn’t deserve this, the poor guy, but I also feel that he needs to be a bit more assertive in his work life. Eisuke (Sumi’s brother) is also working rather hard, which is good to see.
And then there’s Nozomu, who is just such a huge jerk and I hate him and someone needs to just punch him in the face already. Preferably Sumi, and then Soichiro. He deserves it, badly.
At the end of the book, there was a short story starring Komai (Soichiro’s old servant), that was very cute. I just really like Komai, though; he’s sweet, and I would like to see more of him. I would also like him to stick up for himself and/or Soichiro and Sumi, though. It’s obvious he has a soft spot for them, I want him to do something about what Nozomu has been doing to them all, even if it’s just behind his back.
Even though there are so many not-good things about this series, like how overly dramatic it is and how weak the characters are, I still really like it, and this volume was especially good. I hope the next one is even better, and that Sumi keeps going up on the track she’s started on.
Oh, and apparently the next volume is the last, which I did not know. I was expecting the series to go on for a while longer. Hopefully the series ends in a good way, then.

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