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honey and clover Vol. 4 by Chica Umino (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

February 10, 2009 by  



“Volume 4 continues to go towards a more dramatic and deeper storyline and this time focusing on storylines that surround Mayama, Yamada and Rika.  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. 4

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

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: SHUEISHA, Inc.

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

RATED: T for Older Teen

Morita has disappeared, leaving his friends bereft and confused.  Hagu and Takamoto turn to their art, while Mayama and Ayu cling to their unrequited loves.  When his coworker begins to romance Ayu, Mayama can’t help interfering.  But what does he care, when he’s nursing a flame for a woman he hasn’t seen in a year?

With the previous three volumes, I have had nothing but positive things to 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”.

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 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.

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 likes Hagu and being the first to show his feelings towards her, he bolts to Los Angeles without saying goodbye to his friends.

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 things have not been the same for her since Morita kissed her and with him gone, she’s slowly trying to get out of a funk.  But now in a much better mood since her guardian, Professor Hanamoto is back from his research sabbatical.

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 but knows that he doesn’t feel the same.  But having these feelings for so long, she doesn’t know if she can stop loving him.

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.

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.

With volume 4, the storyline for this volume are more focusing on Mayama and his feelings for both Rika and Yamada.

Chapter 22 – With Morita off to Los Angeles, Takemoto doesn’t know if he wants him to come back.  Perhaps now is a good time for him to share his feelings to Hagu and let her know how he has felt.

Chapter 23 – Meanwhile, Professor Hanamoto and Mayama talk about Rika and we get a glimpse of Mayama and Rika’s working relationship and his time with her.

Chapter 24 – It’s the Summer time and Yamada has planted basil and shiso.  But the tall Shiso plant has broken off and her wife tells her to cut the plant and so it can grow normally but Yamada looks at the Shiso plant and the broken part still has new leaves growing.  She sees herself almost like the Shiso plant.  But it’s time for the summer fireworks festival and Yamada decides to try again to see if she can attract Mayama by wearing a kimono.  Is she like the Shiso plant.  Should she get a fresh start or continue to be broken.

Chapter 25 – We are introduced to Mayama’s co-workers at the firm.  As for Mayama, he longs to see Rika but doesn’t know if its the right time to see her just yet.

Chapter 26 – Mayama’s co-workers are wondering why he won’t let them see Ayumi Yamada (there are more orders for the flower bowls), so his co-workers end up seeing him at a Shrine Festival and introduce themselves to Yamada.  But all of a sudden, Mayama becomes jealous of Nomiya trying to meet Yamada because he’s a playboy.  And even more shocked to find out that the following day, Nomiya went to visit Yamada.

Chapter 27 – Mayama’s co-workers, especially Nomiya confront Mayama in regards to why he goes out of his way to prevent them from trying to meet Yamada.  Especially if he likes Rika.  Meanwhile, Nomiya takes Yamada out on a trip to dinner many miles away.

Chapter 28 – Mayama is a bit furious that Yamada went with Nomiya to dinner.  His friends don’t understand why he’s being so protective over Yamada and Yamada is furious that of all people, Mayama is trying to tell her what to do with her life.  Meanwhile, in a chance meeting, Mayama and Rika see each other again face-to-face.

Also, included is  “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 “Galaxy Express 999”, “Rakkyo”, “Umeboshi” and more.

The fourth volume of “Honey and Clover” is definitely much more dramatic and deeper than volume 3.  And more surprising is how the storylines focus more on Mayama and Ayumi and their emotions.

Typically, I love reading about all characters but I have to admit that I liked how Umino dedicated a good number of chapters in fleshing out the characters of Mayama and Ayumi and how both are pretty much torn on how they feel.  Ayumi’s love for Mayama, Mayama knows Ayumi’s a great girl but his love is for Rika but yet cares deeply for Ayumi and doesn’t want her to be with just any guy.

I definitely enjoyed where this volume was going and it was quite enjoyable but at the same time, quite touching and sad.

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.  So, both men and women can definitely enjoy “honey and clover”.

“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 4 is another fantastic volume in the series.  More Mayama and Ayumi-centric but continues to be a wonderful series thus far!  A series worth investing your time reading thus far.

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