A White Rose in Bloom Vol. 1 Review

An old hand at BL turns her efforts to yuri.

Ruby’s a somewhat happy-go-lucky teen girl in a fancy European boarding school whose reaction to her parents’ deciding to divorce is to roll her eyes over how long it took them to accept the inevitable. She thus makes for an odd pair with the aloof Steph when the two are the only ones to remain at the school through the holidays. But their very difference draws Ruby to Steph, even as the latter shows little sign of warming to her.

If I’m not mistaken, this is Asumiko Nakamura’s first yuri series, although she’s done at least one one-shot previously (which appears in Maiden Railways, which Denpa Books published in English). In anglophone fandom, she’s primarily known for the BL manga Doukyusei, which was adapted into a well-regarded movie (and the manga is, like this one, published in English by Seven Seas), although she’s also done a bunch of josei. I don’t always like her work, but I at least tend to find it interesting, so I was curious to check out her try at a schoolgirl yuri story that is embracing so many of the hoarier tropes of schoolgirl yuri stories. And, yeah, I know I groan over how much yuri loves loves loves its schoolgirl stories, but having gotten into yuri via stuff like Maria-sama ga Miteru, I am susceptible to a well-executed schoolgirl yuri tale of this type, i.e. fancy private boarding school melodrama.

And, so far, this is quite well-executed. Nakamura goes deliberately full-bore for the types and the tropes in this, and breathes a significant amount of life into what could’ve easily been too much like every other stab at this kind of story. Ruby’s the genki girl, but she’s also given to crankiness and a degree of jadedness that prevents her from becoming the naive ingenue in thrall to Steph. Steph, meanwhile, is the chilly senpai, but she’s thrown off her stride and is irked about it when Ruby declines to passively go along with events as dictated by Steph. (Steph, by the way, gives us a clue as to the time period in which this takes place, which is ill-defined – she’s a refugee from Hungary and mentions having escaped across a minefield. So, if Nakamura did good research, this is likely the 1950’s, although I wouldn’t discount the possibility that its anywhere between then and the late 80’s.) Certainly the events are familiar ones, but the characters involved in them aren’t ciphers, and the tone never rises into soap opera realms – Nakamura respects her cast too much for that.

If it somehow isn’t at all clear – I really, really enjoyed this volume. This is a great addition to the growing stable of yuri manga published in English, and absolutely worth giving a try even if one does not generally go for schoolgirl yuri.

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