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honey and clover Vol. 9 by Chica Umino (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

April 28, 2010 by  



The next-to-last volume of the “Honey and Clover” manga series answers one major question involving a character but shocks us with a near tragedy to one of the main members of the group.  An emotional volume definitely preparing us for the final tenth volume of the popular manga series.  Definitely recommended!

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

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MANGA TITLE: honey and clover vol. 9

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

The mystery behind Morita’s obsession with money is finally revealed – he and his brother Kaoru need all the cash they can get their hands on to bankroll their revenge against the man who destroyed their father. Now they’re finally close to their goal, but what will they do once their purpose for living is gone?

“Honey and Clover”, the popular young adult manga series by Chica Umino that has generated an anime series and also a live action movie (all available now from Viz Media) and earned her a Kodansha Manga Award.  With a total of ten mangas published in Japan, the ninth volume has now been released by Shojo Beat Manga and continues on the life of five young adults.

From their beginning years as art students, to graduating and finding careers and now the two youngest members of the group: Yuta Takemoto and Hagumi now preparing for their graduation and life after school.

The ninth volume of “Honey and Clover” focuses on Yuta Takemoto’s indecisiveness of whether to focus on his career or stay in the city to be close to a girl that he loves (and not sure if she cares about him the same way).  Also, answers to why Morita is constantly leaving school to do high paying odd jobs and a near tragic accident strikes one of the members of the group and may change this person’s life forever.

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 9 (summaries only, no spoilers):

Chapter 54 – Takemoto and Hagumi know that they are near graduation and it is starting to hit them that their friendships and their closeness as a group will be ending.

Chapter 55 – We learn about the past of Morita and his older brother and Kaoru and how their father was betrayed by a close friend.

Chapter 56 – Morita and Kaoru plan to make their move for revenge.

Chapter 57 – Near tragedy hits one of the main characters and now it is not known if the person will ever be able to use their hands.

Chapter 58 – Morita re-evaluates his life and standing by his brother’s side.  Meanwhile, the group worries about the injuries of their dear friend and if that friend will ever be able to work again.

Chapter 59 – As the friends worry about the future of their other injured friend, Takemoto must make a decision of whether to pursue the job offer he has received or to stay and support his friend.

Chapter 60 – Morita finds out about the injuries to the friend and returns to be with that person.

Also, included is a chapter of “Umino and Her Friends” in which Umino talks about having her manga published in two publications but due to the economy, those publications folding.   Also, included is a Honey and Clover Study Guide featuring explanations on various words used in this latest volume.

Here we are, over a year later and with the ninth volume of “Honey and Clover”, the next to last volume in the manga series.

For those of us who have read this manga series since the beginning, have seen the anime series or even the live film.  In many ways, it’s sad to say goodbye to this series because Chica Umino has done such a fantastic job in character development and making this series so genuine and real, that you actually care for each of these characters.

This latest volume does answer questions in regards to Morita and possibly why he hasn’t graduated college but now it introduces us a big question to what will happen to one of the members of the group after the accident.  I have to admit that I was not expecting this accident to happen, especially to the character that is now hospitalized.  Each of these characters are talented in what they do and the fact that each of them are close to each other, like family, you can sympathize in what the characters are feeling, when something near tragic happens to a loved one.

This storyline will definitely set things up for the final volume which I look forward to but in many ways, I think anyone who has graduated from high school, college and had a great group of friends knows how things go after everyone graduates.  And these are the emotions that Hagumi and Takemoto feel in this volume.  But what happens next?  I suppose we’ll find out in the final tenth volume.

Overall, “Honey and Clover” has been nothing but an enjoyable, dramatic manga series.  It has been great to get away from the supernatural or extremely dark manga series and to find one that deals with genuine characters and their emotions of young adult life, finding a career, finding love and life after graduation.  Volume nine definitely answers some questions but also adds a major question mark on one of the main members of the group.

If you have been reading the series thus far, it’s a no-brainer that the ninth volume is a must buy.  And if you are a person who has never read the manga series, I highly recommend “Honey and Clover”.  It’s easy to get into and its a series that is not very long at all. Definitely check it out!

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