honey and clover Vol. 2 by Chica Umino (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

January 18, 2009 by  

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“Volume 2 continues the fun, hilarious storyline from the last volume.  This volume features more dramatic undertones with the characters but still managing to capture the fun and enjoyablity that the first volumew as known for.  Well-written and beautiful artwork from the award-winning manga artist Chica Umino.”

(C) Image courtesy of Chica Umino.  All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: honey and clover vol. 2

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

Love is never easy for our heroes.  Takamoto is forced to confront his resentment of his stepfather and his own feelings of being cast adrift, while Mayama and Ayu flounder in their unrequited loves and Morita faces the prospect of being held back another year.

Beautiful, fun… Definitely a lot of positive things you can say about this Kodansha Award winning manga series by Chika Umino.

Having spawned an anime series, a live drama and film, it’s no surprise that many men and women have enjoyed “honey and clover” and now available from Viz Media via their Shojo Beat imprint is “honey and clover”.

The second volume of “honey and clover” continues that fun, enjoyable atmosphere that came from that first volume but now getting into more of the dramatic stories of each character.

In the manga series, the story revolves around three guys who live in an apartment complex and attend an art school.  They are:

Yuta Takemoto: One of the primary characters, Takemoto is the youngest of the guys and majoring in architectural design.  He seems to have a ho-hum life but is the normal guy of the group who has taken a liking to the gifted artist Hagumi.

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.  He is drawn to Hagumi because she reminds him of a Koropokkur (a leprechaun or fairy) that he actually takes pictures of her in situations and puts it on the Internet and promoting her as one.

Takumi Mayama: Mayama is the quiet type.  A senpai for Takemoto and works at a design firm in which he likes the owner Rika.  Although he knows that he’ll never get that close to Rika, he somewhat does what he can for her.  He is also the guy that Morita turned to when he needed help but now Mayama has passed the duty on to Takemoto.

The female characters featured are:

Hagumi: A shy, gifted  sculptor who is being taken care of by her uncle, Professor Hanamoto.  She is not very talkative and very, very short.  She is almost like a little girl but she’s actually 18 and her cuteness makes everyone in a good mood.  She does have a hard time knowing that so many people expect a lot of things from her because of her talent but also knows that because of dedicating her life to that talent, she doesn’t live a normal life like the other girls in school.

Ayumi Yamada: Yamada aka “Iron Man” is another gifted student at the art school who is madly in love with Mayama.  She knows that he is not interested in her but she takes it hard and sometimes can’t tolerate his attitude but she does because she’s so in love with him.  She’s very blunt, very beautiful, very athletic but also can get very violent (ala her karate moves).

And characters that are 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 advisor to the students.  He attended the same art school with best friend and roommate Harada who dated a woman named Rika.  The three were inseparable and both Harada and Rika got married.  But after Harada’s death, he continued to help care for Rika who is now the boss at a design firm that Mayama works at.

Rika: She’s a friend of Hanamoto that runs a design firm that Mayama works for.  She knows that Mayama loves her but because of the pain she suffers from that accident that killed her boyfriend (and Professor Hanamoto’s best friend), she likes to inflict pain onto herself.

What I found quite charming about this storyline is that it’s life of a college student.  Trying to do your best at school, not knowing your own future after school, not having enough money and just the fun that people have amongst friends.

Chapter 10 revolves around Yuta Takemoto.  Yuta returns home to visit his mother.  He hasn’t really visited his home mainly because he resents his stepfather and really hasn’t accepted him into the family in since the death of his father.  His stepfather tries to get closer to Yuta and letting him know that despite being his stepfather, he will never replace his real father.  But more or less a storyline focusing on Yuta and his own personal family life.

Chapter 11 features the group going on a trip.  Ayu still loves Mayama but Mayama thinks only of Rika.  Morita sees how people are down and tries to get everyone to have fun (or get drunk) but have a good time.

Chapter 12 features a trip to the zoo.  But the major part of this storyline is learning about Hanamoto’s relationship with Rika and Hanamoto and Mayama having a long talk about Rika and why he was offered to work at her office.

Chapter 13 features Yuta and Morita vying for Hagumi’s affections.  Meanwhile, Morita must finish his project to finally graduate but will he complete it or will he need to retake the course again.  The most important part of this chapter is Ayu finally revealing her feelings to Mayama.  No holding back.

Chapter 14 features Hanamoto taking a sabbatical to do research in another country.  That means he will have to leave Hagumi.  Hagumi wants to find a four leaf clover to give to Hanamoto for good luck and the gang tries to help her find one.  This chapter introduces how Hanamoto became Hagumi’s guardian.

Chapter 15 features Yutaka’s birthday party with Hagumi cooking her specialty “Chocolate Mintkin”, a pumpkin popped in the microwave and topped with chocolate mint ice cream afterwards.  Meanwhile it is revealed how Hanamoto is doing in the other country and how Hagumi is doing without Hanamoto.  Whether their relationship is like father and daughter or more than that, you don’t know.  Also, Yutaka starting to have more feelings towards Hagumi.

Also, included is a side story which includes “Honey & Clover: The Story So Far” with the perspective from Midori-chan (a dog that lives in the same building where Hagumi is staying), “Otaku House Call” which is a segment featuring cute character animal drawing designs of Umino and the people who work with her and a story of behind-the-scenes as they work together.  And the third part is a study guide of key locations featured in the manga that people can check out if they visit Japan.

The second volume was very good.  Where the last volume featured mostly the fun and games between the characters, volume 2 focused more on the dramatic situations in their lives and possible upcoming love triangles that may pose problems for the friends in upcoming chapters.

Although “honey and clover” is a “Shojo Beat” title, this is not a manga strictly for females.  The story involves men and women and the complexity they face in their lives.  May it be graduation, what to do after graduation or the emotions that they feel inside but somehow, finding difficulty to express them.

“honey and clover” is a well-told drama ala manga series and it’s no surprise whey this manga series has had a live drama, anime series and film adaption.  The storyline is enjoyable and there is an innocence to the storyline that we all can relate to.  Also, it’s a fun manga series that is well written and well drawn and I’m impressed with how much Umino is able to include with each and every chapter.

Volume 2 continues that fun and beautiful storyline and designs that I loved with the first volume and I look forward to volume 3.  Another recommended volume in the “honey and clover” manga series!

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