honey and clover Vol. 10 by Chica Umino (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

October 10, 2010 by  

The final volume of “Honey and Clover” is here.  An awesome conclusion for a magnificent manga series!  Highly recommended!

© Image courtesy of Chica Umino. All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: honey and clover vol. 10 (aka Hachimitsu to Clover)

STORY AND ART BY: Chica Umino (羽海野 チカ)


PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Shojo Beat Manga

RATED: T for Older Teen

Final volume! Hagu and Takemoto are the last of the gang to graduate, and after his bike odyssey Takemoto has a future in temple restoration. But Hagu’s recent injury might steal her ability to paint forever. Can love make up for such a painful loss?

“Honey and Clover”, the popular young adult manga series by Chica Umino that has generated an anime series and also a live action movie (all available now from Viz Media) and earned her a Kodansha Manga Award. With a total of ten mangas published in Japan, the ninth volume has now been released by Shojo Beat Manga and continues on the life of five young adults.

From their beginning years as art students, to graduating and finding careers and now the two youngest members of the group: Yuta Takemoto and Hagumi now preparing for their graduation and life after school.

In the last volume of “Honey and Clover”, the story focused on Yuta Takemoto’s indecisiveness of whether to focus on his career or stay in the city to be close to a girl that he loves (and not sure if she cares about him the same way). Also, answers to why Morita is constantly leaving school to do high paying odd jobs and a near tragic accident prevents Hagumi from doing what she loves the most… painting.

Here we are with the final volume of “Honey and Clover” as the five friends we have watched as they have entered the art school, are now at the next chapter of their lives, finished with school and now must make the final choices for them to  move on.

Here is a brief summary of each character of “honey and clover”:

Yuta Takemoto: One of the primary characters, Takemoto is the youngest of the guys and majoring in architectural design. He is the normal guy of the group and trying to find himself. He has fallen for Hagu but is not the type to share his emotions or act upon them. It’s his moment to find a career and is very unsure of what he wants to do. But since his hiatus, he has found himself to have more courage and express himself much better emotionally.

Shinobu Morita: A carefree, does whatever he wants type of guy. Very cool but very strange. A gifted sculptor who has attended the University for years, has not graduated but tends to make money doing freelance work and constantly on the move. With everyone going through major life changes, it’s starting to have its effect on Morita.

Takumi Mayama: Mayama is the only one among the friends who have graduated and working his career job as a graphic designer. His love is for his boss named Rika but she doesn’t see him that way, especially since she lost her husband in an accident not too long ago. Meanwhile, he knows that Ayumi has loved him for a long time but he doesn’t share the same feelings for her.

The two female characters are:

Hagumi: A shy, gifted sculptor who is graduating and has a lot of pressure to perform. But now she’s starting to discover that being world renown for her paintings may not be her thing.

Ayumi Yamada: Yamada aka “Iron Man” has graduated from college but still tends to help out at the art college and assist her family’s business. She is so much in love with Mayama even though she knows he loves Rika.

And two characters that is not part of the main group but important to the storyline:

Professor Hanamoto: Just like one of the guys, Hanamoto is the guardian of Hagumi and more or less like an adviser to the students. He has observed his students and tries to assist them and point them in the right direction. But he is reminded by Takemoto that he’s very much like him when he graduated from school.  But he is starting to find out that his feelings towards Hagumi are more than just a guardian.

Rika: A former classmate and a close friend of Professor Hanamoto and is running a graphic design business by herself after the death of her partner and husband. She has been distant and depressed since the death of her husband and knows that Mayama is trying to help her.

Mayama’s co-workers at Fujiwara Architects also play a role in the series:

Miwako – The boss of Fujiwara Architects and likes to make fun of her employees and make them feel uncomfortable at times. And very close to her dog.

Nomiya – The suave and calm architect that knows Yamada is trying to get Mayama jealous and goes with it. But at the same time, can’t understand why she’s head over heels in love with Mayama. But now he finds himself falling deeply in love with Hagumi.

Yamazaki – An employee at Fujiwara Architects that has a crush on Miwako but Miwako tends to look at him as an employee she can try to take advantage and make fun of.

Here is what to expect from volume 10 (summaries only, no spoilers):

Chapter 61 – Yuta senses that Professor Hanemoto looks at Hagumi as more than just a student he helped raise.  Meanwhile, Morita tries to make his move on Hagumi.

Chapter 62 – Professor Hanemoto considers his emotions towards Hagumi, meanwhile Morita is dealing with rejection with Yuta.

Chapter 63 – Professor Hanemoto makes a decision on what he wants to do with his life and if he will leave or stay with Hagumi.

Chapter 64 – The final chapter – Nomiya has remained patient towards Ayumi, but will he stand by her still, as she still has feelings towards Mayama?  Each friend spends their final night together and Yuta says goodbye.

Umino and Her Fun Friends – Chica Umino reflects on her time working with her crew and completing “Honey and Clover”.

Birds in the Sky – A one shot story about a young woman named Nao and her relationship with her boyfriend Sohei.

Mini Bonus Episode: Valentine’s Day Memory – Ayumi and Hagumi are making a Valentine’s Day treat but both Yuta and Mayama try to warn Professor Hanamoto.

Bonus episode – An episode featuring Mayama and Professor Hanamoto as well as Miwako and Yanazaki.

Opera of the Stars – A one shot that Chica Umino did for “Comic Cue” with the theme being, “What if you had one of Doraemon’s secret gadgets?”

A Little Extra – A final goodbye from Chica Umino for those who have supported her throughout the “Honey and Clover” run.

Also, included is a Honey and Clover Study Guide featuring explanations on various words used in this latest volume.

It’s hard to believe that “Honey and Clover” is over.  The series has been an emotional and dramatic ride as we have seen the characters start out at the art institution and watching these characters grow over time.  While, here in the US, this 10-volume manga series has taken two years.  In Japan, this manga series started in 2002 and completed in 2006, and almost like a full college year, I can see how readers feel as if they grew up with the characters and to see how these characters evolve overtime.

Back in December 2008, for the first volume of “Honey and Clover”, I wrote, “I really enjoyed this first volume.  Similar to young novels or manga (or even dramas) such as “Asunaro Hakusho”, “Wakamono no Subete” or “Hakusen Nagashi”, I really enjoy stories that cover young adult life.  From the parties to just hanging out with friends, meeting new people, career choices to finding love (or not finding love),  “honey and clover” is one of those series that is realistic in the sense that many people can related to these characters.”

And in many ways, you wondered how this series would end.  Like any graduation from school and friends that you grew up with, graduation is one of the greatest times in college life but at the same time, it’s also a time when you know you will be separating from your good friends and starting a new chapter of your life.  This is how the characters of “Honey and Clover” are.  Great friends and together they have endured partying, getting drunk, love, happiness, disappointment and everything else that close friends have experienced.

For me, the final volume ended appropriately but at the same time, I guess I was expecting more of a final setting with each of the friends together one last time.  But if anything, the story ended the way it began, Yuta entering colege and his thoughts towards Hagumi and ends with Yuta and Hagumi.  Once again, appropriate, especially in its relation to the title of the manga series.

Chica Umino had literally put her life into this series and her artwork and storytelling was well-done from beginning to end.  I did find the additional one-shots included in this volume quite interesting, because we get to see Umino’s different character designs and if anything, I look forward to reading her next manga series “March Comes in Like a Lion” (which was nominated in 2009 for a 2nd Annual Manga Taishou) and hopefully we receive an American release for it.

Overall, “Honey and Clover” has been nothing but an enjoyable, dramatic manga series. It has been great to get away from the supernatural or extremely dark manga series and to find one that deals with genuine characters and their emotions of young adult life, finding a career, finding love and life after graduation. From beginning to end, this series has been quite enjoyable and so entertaining!

If you have been reading the series thus far, it’s a no-brainer that the final volume is a must buy. And if you are a person who has never read this manga series before and want something a bit more realistic and fun, I highly recommend “Honey and Clover”. It’s easy to get into and its a series that is not very long at all.

Definitely recommended!

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