“It’s easier to live, when you don’t think or feel anything.”
In 2050, amid the vast dessert that was once Japan, Soshi Sawamura became a soldier for one of the four nations that wars over food in order to stay fed himself. One day he meets one of the mysterious “Flower Girls” by chance, and the true nature of her condition might just change his life.
I’ve enjoyed manga in the past dealing with some of the more everyday aspects of life among war filled, post-apocalyptic settings, so the cover and a quick read of the premise intrigued me enough to check this out.
And a quick sense of the premise was certainly all I retained, as this one takes some odd turns I was totally unprepared for. The affliction plaguing the Flowers Girls and the way it manifests is WEIRD, and the consequences that arise naturally from the premise are quite grim. So far though it’s all well utilized and capitalized on, with appropriate emotional weight being given to the situation, no matter how absurd the initial idea.
The world building is interesting, and the dessert ravaged Japan our leads inhabit feels lived in and relatable despite it’s fantastical nature. The dessert world also heavily ties into the themes of the manga that relating to the flower aspect of Nadeko’s condition.
Several individual elements here have been done before, but this is a decent spin that pushes the tropes a bit in slightly new directions. Given the romantic themes of the manga and Soshi being an adult soldier I do wish Nadeko had been made a bit older (say at the very least late teens rather than early), but so far the execution has been fine and there are thematic reasons for her youth.
Soshi’s lack of ambition and drive is a perhaps obvious and cliched choice, but it works as a baseline since he can’t continue to be apathetic as Nadeko’s partner. There’s a real darkness simmering beneath the surface as the Flower Girls know exactly what awaits them in exchange for certain choices, and Nadeko and Soshi both having to face these realities in different ways seems a strong central plot anchor going forward.
All in all this is a decent start to a nicely character driven story in a well realized dystopian setting. I’m definitely curious enough to read more.