Title: Name of the Flower Vol 2
Author: Ken Saito
May Contain Spoilers
This volume kind of caught me off guard. Chouko is hopelessly in love with her guardian, Kei, and she has grown awkward in his presence. So much so that even Kei is picking up on her gawkiness. Neither one of them is very adept at communicating their feelings, and things are getting a little uncomfortable. When Kei agrees to go on a trip to an onsen with Akiyama, he is eager to create some space between them. What he doesn’t realize is that Chouko’s new friends are huge fans of his, and they plan on following him to Hakone!
Chouko begins to blossom after meeting Yousuke, book nut who is just as socially inept as she is. Yousuke is on a recruiting drive for his book club, and Chouko is lassoed into joining. She soon begins to enjoy hanging out with the club members, and when they learn that Kei is her relative, they beg her for a photograph. Kei is camera shy, and Chouko fails to nail a shot. After discovering that Kei is travelling to Hakone, they all decide to take a club trip to the onsen in hopes of meeting him. Sounds like a recipe for more misunderstandings, and that’s exactly what Chouko gets.
I thought that this volume started out a little too slowly, and I was easily distracted as Chouko moved through her daily activities. However, as the pages continued to turn, I found that I couldn’t put the book down. When the focus turned to Kei, and his confused feelings for Chouko, that’s when I was totally hooked on this series again. There is a darkness in him that is almost frightening, and it isn’t clear whether what he feels for Chouko is love or something more sinister. Is he just possessive, unwilling to share her with others? If that is the case, what is going to happen as she continues her friendship with Yousuke, a young man who is clearly smitten by her.
A destructive influence from his past abruptly appears on his doorstep, and now I wonder if Kei has the strength to resist a slide into the darkness that resides in his soul. He doesn’t strike me as the most mentally stable guy around, and it seems that it would only take a nudge for him to go over the edge. If he heads down the path of self-destruction, will Chouko’s love be enough to save him?