Despite having the word “dystopia” in its title, Usami Miki‘s Taihai No Hanauri (Flower Girl In Dystopia) is not an unpleasant read. This adorable ongoing 4-koma manga was published by Seikaisha this year and serialized in Tsui 4 (Twi 4) magazine. The manga can be read online for free on Tsui 4’s website. The comic currently has thirty chapters and is set to be continued in February 2018.
The story revolves around a young girl and her robot companion living in a desolate dystopian city with steam punk influences. Every being in the city is entirely dressed in clothing from head to toe, which could hint at the fact that the city’s air could be densely polluted. The building designs are simplistic and their interiors leave things to be desired. The walls of the protagonist’s home, for example, have large cracks and have no decorative furniture. The only possessions that the protagonist has from what we can see in the panel is the large sack at the bottom right corner. The crosshatching and downward textured lines add to the desolate feeling to not only the protagonist’s room but to the world of the manga. In fact, the world of the comic is pretty barren with no plants or trees or even grass to decorate the background.
As you might have guessed, humans are treated unkindly by the grand majority of non-human residents in the city because they are regarded as disgusting life forms. Judging from the second chapter of the comic, it’s not uncommon for the human minority to become food…
The characters themselves are not assigned names in the six chapters I have read. But the two main characters and their relationship is nothing that we haven’t seen.
The main female protagonist is the innocent “little sister” type. She is eager to explore and understand the dystopian world around her yet retains a shy demeanor when it comes to interacting with the manga’s non-human folk. She’s not overbearing or selfish in her desires, in fact, she strives to do things on her own like purchasing food from a scary crow vendor.
By contrast, her companion “Nii-chan” definitely fits his role as an older brother/protector of the female protagonist. With his large robot body, intimidating height and his creepy gas mask, he threatens any and every entity who would cause the protagonist harm.
And even without squinting at the manga’s text and images, it’s clear he possesses a sister-complex.
But he is too embarrassed to clearly communicate his feelings to his little sister.
Therefore, I find the cuteness of this manga definitely stems from their relationship of a cute endearing protagonist who is well-loved by her big scary brother.
I think the interesting part of the comic is its character designs. Each non-human character is dressed in intricate masks and outfits or possesses different animal characteristics, adding to their charm and allowing the reader to differentiate the characters. The protagonist is designed as an adorable young girl with her large detailed shoujo manga style eyes and is dressed like a cat to fit into society, which makes her look like a cat girl.
As a comedic science-fiction story, I think the lighthearted relationship of its two main protagonists is enjoyable because it’s juxtaposed against a dark background. From reading its first six chapters, it made me think about a lot of questions concerning the world of the manga itself:
- Whatever happened to all the humans? Are the majority in hiding or slaves to the non-human race?
- How did the non-human race come to overrun humans in this dystopian world?
- How did our protagonist first meet her companion?
- Where does the food come from? Is it animal or human meat?
- What does Nii-chan look like under his mask?
But those questions aren’t really necessary in being answered because of the nature of its genre.
…But perhaps we’ll see Nii-chan’s face eventually, who knows at this point?
My one hope for this manga is that we eventually find that the protagonist finds a goal she wants to achieve in later chapters so that the comic develops a stronger story than just cute moments between two characters in a scary world.
But it’s alright if it stays cute and funny for the sake of being cute and funny. There’s nothing wrong with that.
I would rate this one with a shrug.