Papillon Volume 5/6 by Miwa Ueda
I was happy to see signs of life in Kodansha’s North American arm with the recent summer lineup, but I was a little disappointed that the only ongoing Kodansha title that I actively purchase was left off the list. I’ve slacked off on getting Tsubasa and xxxHolic just because they seem to have gotten so weighed down by continuity. Wallflower is so episodic that I don’t feel like I’m missing much if I skip volumes, and while I enjoyed the first few volumes of Nodame Cantible, I haven’t gotten back into collecting that series. Papillon is pure trashy fun.
As I was reading this omnibus volume I was struck with how addicting Ueda makes this series despite the fact that none of her characters are sympathetic. Nice girl Ageha may be the heroine, but she’s essentially spineless and prone to collapsing under the weight of her own drama. Ageha’s twin Hana has a myriad of psychological issues that lead her to dress up as her sister to see if her boyfriends will fall for her twin, and she’s now trying to steal Ageha’s boyfriend away. Ageha’s boyfriend Ichijiku is a guidance counselor in training who somehow finds it appropriate to date a high schooler even though he might be trying to help build up her self-confidence. If the ending of Papillon involved the main characters dying in a fiery bus crash, I would not be all that disappointed. Yet Ueda’s soap opera makes me want to keep reading.
Ageha starts a part-time summer job at a restaurant where Hana’s ex-boyfriend Shinobu Shindo happens to be working. Shinobu used to have a crush on Ageha too, but when he told her about his feelings she thought he was teasing her. Hana confesses her feelings to Ichijiku and he rejects her. Then Ageha talks to Ichikiku in guidance counselor mode, telling him all about Shinobu without realizing that her new co-worker might inspire feelings of jealousy in her boyfriend. Angst and misunderstandings abound, and Hana start to act even more reprehensible than before when she disguises herself as Ageha and attempts to seduce Ichijiku. Meanwhile, a woman from Ichijiku’s past makes a sudden return, bringing yet another set of psychological problems for him and Ageha to deal with.
Ageha begins to show vague signs of self-awareness as she begins to analyze her own behavior. She actually helps Ichijiku with some of his problems, instead of being her usual flailing and helpless self. Hana keeps acting out so much, I am really hoping that she gets hit by a meteorite and dies. I hope that Kodansha decides to wrap up this series because even though I doubt my hopes of fiery death will be satisfied, I do want to see what happens next.