If the cover art for A White Rose in Bloom has a familiar feel to it, that’s because this manga is by Asumiko Nakamura – the creator of Classmates: Dou Kyu Sei. Having read Classmates, I was curious to see what the mangaka’s take on a yuri series would be like and, upon reading the first volume, I’ve walked away with similar feelings about the two works, both in regards to their strengths and weaknesses.
Ruby’s parents are considering a divorce but want to make one last effort at making their marriage work. To that end, they decide to go on a trip over the Christmas holidays, just the two of them. This leaves Ruby alone and forced to spend Christmas at her boarding school dorms, where the only other people around will be a few staff members and the one other student who’s not returning home: Steel Steph! Steph is beautiful, but aloof, and rumors about her have spread all over the school, so Ruby is initially furious about being stuck there with no one else to talk to during her vacation. The lack of any other companionship winds up drawing them together, however, and Ruby soon realizes that Steph isn’t as cold-hearted as she’d first thought. But will the two of them remain friends once classes start up again after the break? And is what Ruby truly wants from Steph friendship, or is it something else?
Asumiko Nakamura has a very distinctive art style that may not be for everyone, but which I’ve always found appealing. It’s minimalistic and the characters are all lanky, have somewhat pointed features and dramatically full lashes. This style gives the characters in A White Rose in Bloom an ethereal feel to them and I enjoy how unique the art looks.
The plot, on the other hand, feels a bit cookie-cutter. Everything about the setup – the boarding school location and the main character being an ordinary but open-hearted girl who’s in love with an austere older classmate – are all very common yuri tropes and there isn’t really anything about the story that feels fresh. This might be considered something of a “hot take”, but I felt similarly about Classmates. I didn’t dislike that series by any means, but it did feel like Nakamura had taken the formula for a standard boys love manga and, instead of adding a twist or some new element, just stuck to the basic recipe. I’d say that she’s done something similar here, but with yuri. On the one hand, this does make A White Rose in Bloom feel like a classic yuri manga and I can’t say that the story doesn’t work, it’s actually quite solid, but, on the other hand, there isn’t anything here that feels exciting.
While I wasn’t blown away by the story, I did like Ruby as a main character; she can be immature at times, but she has spunk and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Steph is a bit of an enigma and it’s hard to tell what she’s thinking because she’s so unforthcoming, but I was intrigued by what we’ve learned about her past as a refugee and I’m interested to learn more about her.
So, in the end, I’m planning to pick up volume 2 and see where things go from here.
If you’re a fan of Asumiko Nakamura’s other works, I’d definitely recommend checking this manga out. Yuri fans will also likely find this an enjoyable read, provided that you’re not looking for anything revolutionary.
Final Score: 7 out of 10
What did you think of this manga? Anyone disagree with my take on Classmates? Let me know in the comments!
For more information on this series, check out Seven Seas Entertainment’s website.
Be sure to check out some of my other recent yuri manga reviews:
- Strawberry Fields Once Again Vol 1 Review
- Days of Love at Seagull Villa Vol 1 Review
- Whisper Me a Love Song Vol 1 Review
- A Witch’s Love at the End of the World Vol 1 Review
- I Love You So Much, I Hate You Review
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The refugee aspect sounds interesting, and I hope the author actually does something with it (explain her past) instead of just labeling her as one and moving on.
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Same here. So far, very little of Steph’s past has actually been explained. I’ll be disappointed if things stay that way.
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