on January 24, 2013
Every volume of Stepping on Roses just gets better and better! Each one leaves me dismayed when I reach the last page because I have to wait for the next release. Rinko Ueda knows how to build the suspense and the drama so that by the time you reach the last page, you are a quivering mass of emotions. Some volumes that means being upset by the injustices Sumi has to overcome, and some leave you with an adrenaline rush, cheering Sumi on as she manages to stay true to herself and deal with adversity. This volume left me pumped for Sumi - she's finally had enough, and she is going to try to turn the tables on Nozomu. You go, girl! I only hope she can wage a battle against the crafty, unscrupulous Nozomu without compromising who she is.
Just when it seems as though things can't get any worse for Sumi and her family, things do. They get monumentally worse. After being thrown out of their home by Nozomu, they are without shelter, have no money, and even less food. They have lost everything. Nozomu has poisoned the ears of most of Soichiro's acquaintances, and nobody will hire him for fear of Ashida Product's reprisals. When Soichiro becomes ill and the doctor refuses to treat him because they have no money, Sumi knows that she must give in to Nozomu's demands. She sells herself to him in order to help her family. Poor Sumi! Her desperation is palpable. She will do whatever is required to keep her loved ones safe, and it's not going to be easy for her.
What I enjoyed most about this volume is how Sumi begins to subtly exert her will against Nozomu. She is passive on the surface, but underneath, she is learning the fine art of subterfuge from her new fiancé. He doesn't care about anything but getting the best of Soichiro, and his single-mindedness is actually making it easier for Sumi to stage quiet rebellions. With her reputation in tatters and her family's well-being on the line, she doesn't have much to lose. I loved seeing her plans begin to bear fruit, and finished the last page with a feeling of elation. I finally started to believe that things will work for her in the end, and I haven't felt that positive about Sumi's future in a while.
One person I would like to see more of is Komai, who I always liked, even when he turned traitor. What is his deal? Is he a traitorous scum? Or does he somehow think he is doing what's best for Soichiro? Because there is no way that Nozomu, who is clearly psychotic, could be a better employer than spoiled and over-indulged Soichiro. I think? Unless he really is evil? Maybe we'll find out in February, when the next volume is released!
on December 24, 2012
[Also available on my blog.]
This series is somewhat of a guilty pleasure type shojo, just because it's... in a way, not very good. Most of the time, at least. I mean, most of the characters are not the best, including the heroine (most of the time, but maybe that's changing? More on that in a moment) and the villain, and the romance is pretty much what you'd expect it to be, and sometimes it seems that drama is caused for drama's sake, and it's so over the top dramatic and cheesy. And yet, I really enjoy reading it. But, then again, that shouldn't be a surprise given how much I usually like dramas.
At the moment, I have mixed feelings about Sumi, the heroine. Up until now, I wasn't such a big fan, because she's so weak, and is always only doing things to please some man, and she doesn't really stick up for anything. In this volume, she does at first turn down Nozomu's offer/threat, but when her family gets kicked out of their home, since Nozomu bought the land, and no one will hire Soichiro, she goes to Nozomu and, since she's now living with him, he lets her family move back into their home.
And at first this move just annoyed me, because, really? You're going to fall into his trap that easily? But, near the end of the volume, it's revealed that she's planning to take Nozomu down and bring Soichiro back to his job from the inside. Which, I don't know, seems a bit sketchy and I think I just don't see her as the devious and mischevious type and so I'm having a hard time believing it. And, I have a hard time believing that she's going to be the mastermind behind it all, and not find someone else to do it for her. I just... I haven't gotten to see her doing anything but be pushed around and cry and beg, so, while I would like this change to be true, it's not very believable.
I also want her to be a bit more demanding and stick up for herself. At the beginning of the volume, she tries to earn money by playing shogi, which I thought was a really smart move, but then Soichiro had to come in and be all `this is dangerous', and of course she listened. I don't see why she couldn't have continued doing that, maybe gambling some, and have Soichiro or her brother nearby watching to make sure none of the men get out of hand. Because I don't see why it's so bad; I mean, it is dangerous, but I think the fact they need money is more important. Then later, the other societal wives think she's some gold digger, and she does hold her head high as they push her around, but she doesn't really try to prove to them that they're wrong. She does kind of try to earn her trust back from Miu, Nozomu's wife, and while I do like what she does to get it back, and it was courageous of her to do that, I still think that she mostly rolled over and did what she wanted, even though Miu wasn't really the nicest during all of it. I mean, Miu had her reasons for bullying, but Sumi wasn't really at fault, Nozomu was, and Miu should apologize as well.
Throughout all of this, Soichiro is working his butt off, and I feel sorry for him. He doesn't deserve this, the poor guy, but I also feel that he needs to be a bit more assertive in his work life. Eisuke (Sumi's brother) is also working rather hard, which is good to see.
And then there's Nozomu, who is just such a huge jerk and I hate him and someone needs to just punch him in the face already. Preferably Sumi, and then Soichiro. He deserves it, badly.
At the end of the book, there was a short story starring Komai (Soichiro's old servant), that was very cute. I just really like Komai, though; he's sweet, and I would like to see more of him. I would also like him to stick up for himself and/or Soichiro and Sumi, though. It's obvious he has a soft spot for them, I want him to do something about what Nozomu has been doing to them all, even if it's just behind his back.
Even though there are so many not-good things about this series, like how overly dramatic it is and how weak the characters are, I still really like it, and this volume was especially good. I hope the next one is even better, and that Sumi keeps going up on the track she's started on.
Oh, and apparently the next volume is the last, which I did not know. I was expecting the series to go on for a while longer. Hopefully the series ends in a good way, then.