honey and clover Vol. 7 by Chica Umino (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

October 22, 2009 by  

“Volume 7 of ‘honey and clover’ is more Takemoto-driven and explores the fears and angst that young adults have when they come close to graduating from college.  In Takemoto’s case, that feeling that he must find himself and Chica Umino gives us wonderful insight on the transformation of Takemoto.   Another wonderful volume of ‘honey and clover’.  Highly recommended!”

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

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MANGA TITLE: honey and clover vol. 7

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

Takemoto’s journey across Japan continues, and though he’s sleeping in empty lots and subsisting on convenience store food, he seems to be getting closer to understanding what made him ride away from school and his friends.  But with his money running out and his bike on its last legs, will he have to give up on his quest before he finds what he’s looking for?

Six volumes ago, Chica Umino’s “honey and clover” began as a manga series about a group of art students/friends who attended together.    You had the young Yuta Takemoto who was just happy to make good friends at the school; the carefree and crazy Shinobu Morita who lived next door to Yuta; Takumi Moriyama who interned for a business and fell in love with his boss (who is a widow still in mourning); Ayumi Yamada, the sculptor who has always loved Mayama but knows he has no interest in her and then the gifted artist who looks like a young girl, Hagumi.

Five students who grew up with each other with the advice of their friend Professor Hanamoto and have weathered challenges in their friendship and also preparing for that next step into adulthood by finding a career for themselves.

“honey and clover Vol. 7” marks Umino’s fifth year working on the manga and also the fifth year in the lives of these characters.  This time around, this volume is Yuta Takemoto-driven, as the student has left his friends without saying goodbye and took off to find himself and maybe find out what kind of person he truly is and what kind of career that he wants. And for the other characters, a mere progression in life with Ayumi wanting to be hired by the woman that Mayama is in love with to Hagumi working as an art teacher for children.

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.

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.  But yet he gets jealous when his co-worker Nomiya tries to get close to Ayumi.

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 but knows that he doesn’t feel the same.  She now flirts with Mayama’s co-worker Nomiya-san in order to get him jealous.

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.

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.

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 7 (summaries only, no spoilers):

Chapter 41 – Takemoto arrives in Matsushima but his bike is having problems and now he’s low on money.  Takemoto encounters a group of temple and shrine restorers who take him in as a cook in order for him to make some money.

Chapter 42 – It’s Takemoto’s first day on the job as a cook and for Hagumi, her first day as an art teacher.

Chapter 43 – Takemoto is excelling at his job as a cook but his new friends know that he should continue on his quest to find himself.

Chapter 44 – Takemoto continues on his quest to find himself, while Hagumi learns about herself through her young student.

Chapter 45 – Takemoto has found solace in his long trip and now he must return back home.

Chapter 46 – The return of Takemoto and his friend’s reaction when they find a changed man.

Bonus Chapter – The Legendary Hero * Nyanzaburo – The story about how Nyanzaburo helped the amusement park, Arakawa Land.

Also, included is a chapter of “Otaku House Call!” in which Chica Umino looks back on her five years working on the manga.  Also, included is a Honey and Clover Study Guide which explains certain Japanese terminology featured in volume seven.

“honey and clover vol. 7” was an interesting chapter because it focuses a lot on Yuta Takemoto and his journey of finding himself and what to do with his life.  The other characters of the series are also featured but this volume is dominated by Takemoto’s journey and Hagu’s job as a teacher.

I really found this volume to be quite enjoyable because it was different in the fact that it relies heavily on a sole character but also for the fact that these emotions that Takemoto feel are feelings that many young adults make when they graduate from college.  Some are easy to transition to their new career but some need to find out more about themselves before proceeding to the next level.

With Takemoto, he’s always been a person that stayed back and let everyone speak up but through this journey, the young naive and shy student that we saw from previous volumes has become a man and no longer is he afraid to speak his mind.

For the women, there is a storyline between Rika wanting to hire Ayumi but she is still hurt in the fact that Mayama will never love her like she has loved him and to make things even more difficult, the woman he loves wants to hire her on projects.  Personally, with so many men who fall for Ayumi, you wonder how long can Umino hold Ayumi back.  I understand she has harbored these feelings for him for many years but I would love to see her character meet some happiness.

And for Hagu, she’s in a bit of  funk right now.  With graduation, pressure to do her best since she’s a gifted artist and now having to teach children seems that it’ll take its toll on her.  But you often wonder how much of that fear is caused by the fact that Takemoto left her.

Overall, Chica Umino definitely captures that young adult angst in the seventh volume of “honey and clover” and I look forward in seeing how this series will conclude with three more volumes left in the manga series.  If you have stayed with the manga series this long, then volume 7 of “honey and clover” is definitely worth reading!  Definitely a young adult manga series worth reading!

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