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Honey Hunt Volume 1 by Miki Aihara (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

July 9, 2009 by  



“Another great start for a Miki Aihara manga series.  ‘Honey Hunt’ is entertaining, humorous and overall enjoyable!”

Image courtesy of © Miki AIHARA/Shogakukuan, Inc..  All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: Honey Hunt Vol. 1

STORY AND ART BY: Miki Aihara (相原実貴)

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shogakukan, Inc.

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

RATED: T for Older Teen

Life’s not easy when you’re living in the shadow of your famous parents.  Can shy Yura, the daughter of an award-winning composer and a world-renowned actress, find the courage to step out on her own now that her super-celebrity parents are getting divorced?

The media is abuzz when word gets out that Yura’s mega-famous parents are splitting up.  Already accustomed to the daily pressure of being the child of celebrities, Yura explodes in a frustrated rant against her parents-and her heated words end up being broadcasted live on national TV!  When a powerful talent scout hears her impassioned declaration, he offers to represent her.  The door to showbiz is now flung open for this timid wallflower-will she try to become an actress in her own right?

Having read the “Hot Gimmick!” graphic novel by Miki Aihara, suffice to say, I’ve immediately become a fan of her work.  As a fan of Japanese dramas, I tend to enjoy dramatic storylines that revolve around young adult or adult couples.  A story that doesn’t always have to incorporate a supernatural or magical element, but a story that is real and dramatic.  Aihara does a magnificent job with that and her latest manga series available in America is “Honey Hunt”.

Yura is the daughter of popular and beautiful actress Yukari Shiraki (think of her popularity like a Julia Roberts or a Kate Winslett) and popular musician Takayuki Onozuka, the first Japanese to win an Academy Award.   Yura is quite normal and despite being the daughter of a popular actress and musician, she does not hone their entertainment skills and there is a lot of pressure and expectation from her teachers and students at school because of her talented parents.

While her father is staying in New York and her mother is always working, Yura confides to her friend/tutor Shin.  Her best friend and a guy she thinks she’s attracted to.  One time, while both were watching an interview on television with Yura’s mother Yukari, she sees how talented of an actress she is because she is able to lie about being a great mother despite having a busy  schedule as an actress.

Her mother walks in while Yura and Shin are watching television and immediately we get to see how Yukari is when the cameras are not on her.  Yukari tells her daughter that her father was caught with another woman and that their agreement was to keep their affairs with other people down low  and hidden.  Yura is just shocked because she never knew her parents had such an arrangement.

She tells Yura that she and her father will divorce and that she is selling their home and that she is old enough to make her own decisions and do what she wants.  For now, her father’s manager Keiichi Mizorogi will hide her from paparazzi and have her staying at another location until the news of the divorce dies down.

While at her new place, Yura feels a bit isolated and all she wants to do is be with Shin but also wants to see if her mother changed her mind about the divorce.  So, Yura sneaks out and goes back home and what she sees is absolutely shocking.  Her friend Shin and her mother Yukari making out.

Her mother tells her that they have been seeing each other for quite awhile and that she can’t help that Shin likes her better than her.  Shin says that he considered Yura like a younger sister.  Her mother then tells Yura that she can still stay at her place if she’d like and that she can’t move in with her father because the woman he is having an affair with is pregnant.  You see how Yukari is behind the cameras, she’s a cold mother.

With paparazzi around their home, Yukari declares in front of all of them that she hates all of them and wishes her parents would both go to Hell!

While the paparazzi try to get more out of her, her father’s manager Keiichi steps in and helps her.  He tells her that he will give her a place to stay if he can represent her.  And for Yura, she feels that it would be her best revenge to be an actress that would rival her mother.  To succeed as an actress so both of her parents will respect her.

Yura’s normal life will now change as she enters the world of entertainment and prepares for the life of auditioning and also meeting the popular guys in the industry who suddenly take interest in her.

Will this normal girl with no entertainment skills be able to survive in the entertainment industry?

“Honey Hunt” vol. 1 is quite enjoyable and entertaining.  Although female underdog manga have been seen in popular series such as “Hana Yori no Dango” to “Gunbuster”, Aihara goes a different direction with this series and focuses on the entertainment industry.

The relationship between Yukari and Yura may harken memories of “Mommy Dearest” and the real life (lack of) relationship between actress Joan Crawford and her daughter.  The main difference is that with Yura, she was shielded away from the negative things that her parents were doing. She knew that her parents were busy talents but not until one was caught for their infidelity and until Yura herself catches her mother’s infidelity with her friend, when things start to spiral out of control.

Of course, this story could have gotten dark and similar to Aihara’s “Hot Gimmick!” and could have gone towards a whole new direction but Aihara manages to make the first volume upbeat and in a way, having the main character of Yura being saved by her father’s manager and getting her into the entertainment industry in order to boost her confidence but also, help her get back at her parents by becoming successful in the industry.

Of course, this is only the first volume and not sure if the series will continue to become upbeat or get darker as the series continues but for this specific volume, I was really entertained by “Honey Hunt” and enjoyed the characters in the series.  The manga series features cool character designs, fashionable and stylish characters and also, a possible love triangle thrown into the mix.

Definitely enjoyed the utilization of idol magazines such as the parody of “Potachi” based on Japanese idol mag “Potato” and connecting to the world of Johnny’s Jimusho through name changes ala KOT-TON and real life KAT-TUN, KOT-TON member Koichi Domoto ala real life KinKi Kids Kohichi Dohmoto  and more.  So, definitely like that added J-pop flair to the manga.

Overall, “Honey Hunt” is another entertaining manga from Miki Aihara and I look forward to reading more!  Definitely recommended!

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