Like a Butterfly has been around in Japan for over a decade, originally known as Hibi Chōchō. It’s a romance/slice-of-life manga about a beautiful, shy young high school girl named Suiren Shibazeki who eventually falls for the school’s karate champion, Taichi Kawasumi. The story follows their bond as it develops over their years in high school in a fairly innocent tale highlighted by subtly elegant artwork and charming characterization. If you’re interested in finding out more about this series, read further for my review of Like a Butterfly Vol. 1, with special thanks to VIZ Media for providing a complimentary copy!
What is a Slice of Life Manga?
The genre “slice of life” is a common one in anime and manga, typically focusing on grounded, realistic storytelling surrounding normal life. There’s also a strong romantic connotation to many slice-of-life stories, with Like a Butterfly being no exception. Many, if not all interactions in this series play into Suiren and Taichi’s romantic feelings for one another as they develop, although Vol. 1 is a modest showing of these sentiments.
A Predictable, Simple Premise
High school teens falling for one another is no anomaly in the world of manga. It’s incredibly common, and in fact, it accounts for many of the most popular current series today. It’s a predictable, simple premise, but Like a Butterfly makes up for it with its particular strengths.
Suiren and Taichi are both shy, with Suiren regarded by the school’s boys as an unattainable goddess, while Taichi is an accomplished athlete whose shyness causes him to avoid eye contact. This avoidance mystifies Suiren and sets their connection in motion for Like a Butterfly Vol. 1.
While their developments are somewhat sparse in this series, their decisions and behavior make sense given their situations. When they’re forced to interact, it evokes the best type of frustration in the reader, seeing two awkward teens who don’t understand their feelings for one another. It feels organic, and while it’s indeed predictable, another way to describe that is safe, it’s comfort food, and it’s all too relatable. Upon review, what Like a Butterfly Vol. 1 did to set itself apart was largely in its presentation.
Elegant, Expressive Characters
While Suiren and Taichi are the main characters Like a Butterfly features several supporting casts including Aya and Ryōsuke and more. But when reading this series, all eyes are on the former two, and it’s hard to see why not: the author duo Suu Morishita, with particular credit to the artist Nachiyan, does a great job rendering their most notable characteristics.
Suiren has an ethereal, effortlessly graceful beauty, while Taichi’s apparent aloofness conceals just how much he reads into his interactions with Suiren. This manifests in moments such as their beach volleyball match in Chapter 5, and when their gazes first meet in Chapter 1. The tension is palpable, albeit as frustrating as two teens out of touch with their feelings can be. A lot of the panels can devolve into sideways glances and blushing faces, but there’s an earnest sweetness to it that’s fairly convincing.
Speaking of earnestness, Suu Morishita’s incredibly sweet little notes throughout the chapters such as at the start of Chapter 7 thanking the readers. It turns out this was the duo’s first manga, and it’s frankly wonderful to see such a visually gorgeous first manga make it to the West, even if other projects of theirs came here first.
While Like a Butterfly Vol. 1 doesn’t offer much in terms of substantive plot, it doesn’t set out to, either. It instead offers up charming, well-drawn characters, believable situations, and an approachable premise to which many readers can relate. If you choose to read this series more, you will be delighted to see the characters grow up in real-time along its 12-volume run.
This review was made possible by VIZ Media, along with a complimentary copy of Like a Butterfly Vol. 1, available physically and digitally as of July 4, 2023. You can also check out individual chapters digitally through VIZ Manga!
- This article was updated on August 4th, 2023