honey and clover Vol. 3 by Chica Umino (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

January 26, 2009 by  

“Volume 3 goes much deeper with the storyline and focusing on the emotions of each character and their friendships.  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. 3

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

Professor Hanamoto is off in Mongolia on a research trip and Hagu is having a hard time coping.  The gang do their best to help her out, especially Takemoto.  But as graduation threatens to alter their friendships forever, Hagu begins to turn toward Morita…

A fantastic manga series thus far.   There are definitely a lot of positive things you can say about the Kodansha Award winning manga series “honey and clover” 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 third volume of “honey and clover” still manages to keep the humor of the storyline about three guys and two young women, friends who attend an art school.  Some have since graduated and started their own careers and some that are now in their Senior Year and thus knowing that once everyone graduates, this close friendship that they have, these parties they celebrate each year, it may be over.

The series does get a bit more serious as this volume focuses on the friendships of each of the five characters but also trying to figure out where each of their lives are headed.

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.  In this volume, he is starting his senior year.

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.  He has graduated and a salaryman now.

The two female characters 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 a character 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 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.

What I find charming about “honey and clover” is the realism of the storylines.  It’s more or less a drama, a romantic comedy and each of the characters are enjoyable and many people can relate to.

Chapter 16 revolves Hagu and Morita.  Yuta starts to notice that Morita likes Hagu and he likes her as well but is not good at expressing his emotions.

Chapter 17 takes place around Christmas time and Ayumi’s parents shop is not really doing so well.  So, the friends decide to help Ayumi with Hagu actually becoming a temporary employee and uses her talented art skills to create something that would attract people to the shop.

Chapter 18 features the friends going on a mini-cruise via the waterbus.  Meanwhile, Mayama confronts Takemoto regarding his feeling about Hagu and why he doesn’t fight for her if he really loves her.

Chapter 19 marks the return of Professor Hanamoto and everyone learns how badly Hanamoto has missed Hagu in Mongolia.

Chapter 20 takes place in the Spring.  Hanamoto talks to Morita about completing his final project so he can graduate, meanwhile Hagu looks saddened.  Morita sees her and he decides to take the first step in how he feels about her.

Chapter 21 continues from the last storyline. Hanamoto and Takemoto feel that something must have happened between Morita and Hagu.  Hagu is just in bad shape and hasn’t put any effort into her work and appears to be depressed. Meanwhile Takemoto encounters Morita’s brother and learns that Morita has left to Los Angeles and may not be back for months or longer.  Takemoto is not sure if he wants Morita to come back.

Also, included is a side story featuring Hagu and Ayumi in a “pukkun and milky tea” storyline.  The two sew their own pukkun (a cover for hot water kettles) and give them to their parents.  The other storyline is the final “Otaku House Call” and how Umino and staff will change the name to “Umino and Her Friends” and concluding the manga is a “Honey and Clover Study Guide” featuring an explanation of certain location, talent and words such as “Shiso”, talent such as Nae Yuki and “Coming of Age Day”.

The third volume of “honey and clover” again manages to win people over because of it’s fun and enjoyable storyline.  Of course, things are getting much more serious now as Mayama is now a salary man, Takemoto is graduating soon and everyone has their fun together but there is a little sadness that their circle of friends is winding down as soon, each of them will go their own way in their personal lives and careers.

For Takemoto, he’s been such a shy guy but he realizes how Hagu has made him happy and how much he cares for her but yet doesn’t have the guts to communicate those feelings.  If anything, just making Hagu happy is enough.  As for Hanamoto, his relationship with Hagu at first seemed like father and daughter like relationship but when you realize how much the two missed each other each day, it makes you wonder.  But things change this time around.  Morita has made the first step in declaring his emotions for Hagu but at the same time, bailing out and leaving Japan while Hagu, is confused and depressed.

It will be interesting to see what happens within that love triangle and with Morita gone, will Takemoto become a man who will tell Hagu how he feels about her or will he continue like he always has.

It’s definitely setting things up between Takemoto-Hagu-Morita for the fourth volume which I find quite exciting.

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 3 continues that fun and beautiful storyline, a bit more serious this time around.   But still quite enjoyable!  Another recommended volume in the “honey and clover” manga series!

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