WALKIN’ BUTTERFLY (????????????) • Chihiro Tamaki • Aurora Publishing (2007-2009) • Kodansha (Vanilla, 2005-2007) • 4 volumes • Jôsei Modeling Drama • 16+ (language, nudity, sexual situations)
Michiko is a grease-monkey, motorcycle-riding high school dropout, an excessively tall tomboy who’s too shy to tell her friend Nishikino she loves him. When she accidentally stumbles backstage at a fashion show and is mistaken for a model, she has a fleeting taste of a different world, but is dismissed by aloof designer Ko Mihara, who tells her “You won’t last one step on that catwalk because you can’t see your true self.” Vowing to show Mihara, Michiko ends up working at a modeling agency run by a fortysomething alcoholic ex-model, and struggles to get her foot in the door of her new chosen career. The result is a fast-paced story of ups and downs, half comedy and half serious, like its mood-swinging heroine. The hyperactive tone, more than the pretty art, recalls Moyoco Anno’s Happy Mania, but Michiko’s virginity, and the romantic tension between her and designer (which in a sense devalues her goals of becoming a model) makes it seem more conventional and aimed at a younger demographic. Nonetheless, the fast-paced plot makes it an entertaining mixture of humor and melodrama.
Today’s winner is Paul U. of Missouri. Congratulations, Paul!