Walkin’ Butterfly, Vol. 2
By Chihiro Tamaki
Published by Deux Press
Despite Michiko’s new resolve, her path to a career as a model is not progressing easily. She is raw and untrained, and her impatience and unwillingness to try things she doesn’t understand are huge obstacles for her. Fortunately, her desire to impress childhood friend Nishikino provides some fresh motivation and she digs in once again, but though she finally begins to grasp some of what it means to do the job she’s pursuing so relentlessly, it isn’t enough to win over prickly designer Mihara. Meanwhile, Mihara is facing big decisions of his own as he’s offered an opportunity to join a fashion house in Paris, and Michiko’s agent, Tago, fights what could be the end of her career if she’s unable to make something of Michiko.
The character I found suddenly compelling here is Mihara, who continues to pursue fashion against the wishes of his family. Early in the volume, he asks for extra tickets to his upcoming show without mentioning why he needs them. Later, after a heartbreaking scene in which he meets with his brother who begs him to give up his dream (and helpfully promises not to tell their father about Mihara’s refusal to do so–making it absolutely clear how little he thinks of it himself), Mihara quietly rips up the tickets and throws them into the wind. This scene seriously did me in, and suddenly I was rooting for Mihara. His struggle with the question of whether or not to abandon his own business to go to Paris is one of the best aspects of this volume and offers a nice break from Michiko’s frenetic blustering. Both are intense characters in very different ways, and it will be really fascinating to see what happens as their stories continue to intersect.
Despite my irritation with Michiko, her story is still extremely poignant and I’m no less invested in it than I was in the first volume. Her relationships with the various people in her life are so tragically wrapped up in her tumultuous relationship with herself, it’s impossible not to care and I think most of us can identify with her at least on some level. Perhaps it is the ways in which she reminds me of myself that I am most weary of, after all.
If this review seems a bit fractured, I think it is and that reflects my reading experience somewhat. Emotionally, this volume is all fits and starts, which is actually a fantastic representation of Michiko’s state of mind and perhaps the condition of each of the main characters in this volume. There are obstacles in everyone’s way at this point in the story and nobody is facing them with particular grace (save, perhaps, for Mihara here and there). This is a fitful, emotionally wrought volume in what remains a unique and fascinating series. I very much hope to have the opportunity to read this to the end.
Read my review of volume one here.