A White Rose in Bloom is a yuri manga written and illustrated by Asumiko Nakamura. I’m told that Asumiko Nakamura is the creator of the “modern BL classic” Classmates: Dou kyu sei, so maybe some people out there are familiar with the name.
Seven Seas Entertainment licensed the manga for English release.
This first volume contains chapters one through to four point five.
Ruby is a student at an elite European boarding school. Things are going pretty well for her until she finds out she won’t be able to go home for Christmas. Instead, she’ll be stuck at school with only one other student – the aloof and beautiful Steph – for company. As Ruby tries to understand Steph, she becomes more and more attracted to her. But can she break through Steph’s icy exterior?
I have to admit that I didn’t really know what to expect from this manga, but I can confidently say the first volume has drawn me into Ruby and Steph’s story. There are some aspects that I do have small concerns about, but I get to those in due course.
Focusing on the more positive things first, the art style is unique. I’m not all that familiar with Asumiko Nakamura’s past works, but perhaps some people out there might be able to recognise her style immediately.
It’s quite a nice departure from the more typical moe style you might expect from yuri manga. Of course, moe has its place as well.
Character-wise, I like both Ruby and Steph. Ruby is the more open of the pair, but we do see signs of Steph warming towards Ruby as the plot progresses. They are teenage girls, though, of course emotions do get the better of them – Ruby particularly. Steph remains relatively stoic throughout.
Ruby’s and Steph’s respective friends also seem like decent characters. There isn’t any among them that I particularly dislike. The headmistress of the school is great, too. It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to expect a super strict headmistress, but the one here is actually quite lenient with her students.
However, we also have a character by the name of Liz. Someone’s got to inject some drama into this story, and it is Liz who plays that role. She seems to be very close to Steph, and does not take it well when Ruby gets closer to her…
Also, Ruby’s parents are terrible. Ruby has to go through a lot of stuff because of them, and they kind of just cast her aside. At least she got to know Steph better, I suppose.
OK, one of my biggest issues with A White Rose in Bloom comes not from the story, but possibly choices made in the translation.
When collecting donations, the characters talk about how many dollars they’ve earned – this is supposed to be a European boarding school. Euros would make more sense, depending on when the story is set, of course.
It’s possible it was like that in the original Japanese. However, the list of references included suggests to me that Asumiko Nakamura definitely did her research. It’s a lot of research on English schools, actually, so it’s possible this is set in the UK. Students being referred to as year tens/elevens/twelves also adds to that.
Bit weird that they’d get the whole year thing correct but not currency. Honestly, it’s probably not worth this entire block of text, as it is one line…
But, hey, I liked what I read of A White Rose in Bloom. I’m keen to see how things will unfold, particularly with the way this first volume ends.