In Volume 1, we meet Hanaii Sawako and Hoshino Shiori, former rivals in the sport of table tennis, now classmates in high school. In Volume 2 of Hana to Hoshi (花と星) their former rivalry has now turned into something more complex.
The bulk of the book is spent dealing with a digression and a McGuffin. The McGuffin is revealed in the backstory of Funami Chika, whose relationship with Hoshino is far more intimate than Hanaii is ready to cope with. It’s Funami-sempai who tells Hanaii her story, ultimately freeing Hoshino from her past.
The digression is the existence of a male schoolmate who has fallen for Hanaii and – in an exceedingly rare display of normal behavior – confesses to Hanaii, followed by requests for eating lunch together and a date. The fact that he’s such a nice guy is almost a shame, because you’ve gotta feel bad for him. He’s so functional and he’s screwed. Poor Ogawa.
In my review of Volume 1 I suggested that I knew the perfect ending to this story. It’s not like it was a stretch or anything. This story began with table tennis and the only proper thing to do with it was to end it there, as well. And so, like Yukiko and Chikage in Sakura Namiki, Sawako and Shiori express their genuine affection for each other through their shared love of a sport.
Yesterday I mentioned that my review was a paean to connections. This manga was indeed on the top of my “to-review” pile, and so, when I hit page 18 of Sakura Namiki and found Yukiko in the middle of a ping-pong match, I started to laugh. As Lillian was born from Catholic boarding schools before it, the chances that Flower and Stars was coincidentally about girls who played table tennis receded to near zero. No Yuri is an island entire of itself. And truly, one piece at a time, we’re now seeing tribute paid to the classic manga that came before in the manga that makes us smile now.
Art – 6
Story – 8
Characters – 8
Yuri – 8
Service – 1
Overall – 8
This story, so enjoyable on its own, must be seen as a part of a body of literature. Which, to my mind, makes it just that much more enjoyable.^_^