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honey and clover Vol. 8 by Chica Umino (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

March 28, 2010 by  



Volume 8 of ‘honey and clover’ is probably the most emotional volume of the series yet.   Featuring an Ayumi-Mayama-Rika-Nomiya driven volume and if you have stayed with this manga for this long, definitely a volume worth reading!   Highly recommended!

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

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MANGA TITLE: honey and clover vol. 8

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

Ayu still can’t give up on her love for Mayama, even though his relationship with Rika seems to be deepening. Nomiya’s growing interest in Ayu might be a balm to her broken heart, but he’s moving to Tottori for six months! Is Ayu cursed to suffer hopeless love affairs forever?

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. 8” marks Umino’s fifth year working on the manga and also the fifth year in the lives of these characters. Everyone is grown up, working their own careers while the only college students are Yuta and Shinobu (who seems like he will never graduate since he takes off on a leave of absence to do high paying gigs).  But one unresolved storyline is the love triangle storyline between Ayumi, Mayama and Rika.  Ayumi loves Mayama who loves his boss Rika.  It’s been like this for years and now, things become much more complicates as Mayama’s former co-worker Nomiya-san finds himself falling deeply in love for Ayumi.  But with Ayumi still not over Mayama, can she find love elsewhere?

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.

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 8 (summaries only, no spoilers):

Chapter 47 – As Ayumi now works with Rika and Mayumi, she starts to know how different he is around Rika versus when he is around her.

Chapter 48 – Nomiya starts to learn more about his feelings towards Ayumi.

Chapter 49 – When Nomiya drives ten hours straight to check on Ayumi, he is unaware that Miwako has sent Ayumi to deliver merchandise to him.

Chapter 50 – Nomiya must decide if he wants to let Ayumi know of how he feels about her.

Chapter 51 – Mayama accompanies Rika on a trip to Hokkaido.

Chapter 52 – Miwako takes Ayumi out to Health Land for some R&R.

Chapter 53 – Ayumi must make sense of her feelings, now knowing that Mayama will never love her.

Also, included is a chapter of “Otaku House Call!” in which Chica Umino talks about how she wanted to thank the anime production team for working on the anime series of “honey and clover”.  Plus the “honey and clover” study guide.

After a few volume focusing on Takemoto, Chica Umino now brings the story back to the storyline of Ayumi and Mayama.  For many years, we have read about how Ayumi loves Mayama, Mayama loves Rika and Ayumi having difficulty of letting go.  But with this latest volume, it’s quite evident that she appears to finally have gotten the hint that she and Mayama are never going to happen.  And to make things even a bit more complex for her, Nomiya letting her know that he loves her, even though he knows that she is in love with Mayama.

So, I look at this volume as Umino really trying to tie things up with this storyline and letting these young adults now proceed with life.  Mayama wanting Rika to know his true feelings and the same with Nomiya wanting Ayumi to know his true feelings for her and suffice to say, Ayumi definitely needs to move forward and hopefully after this volume, she has.

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 8 of “honey and clover” is definitely worth reading! This latest volume is much more emotional than any of the previous volumes of “honey and clover” but Umino does another fine job by tying some loose ends with this volume.

Definitely a young adult manga series worth reading!

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