Review by: Sophie Stevens
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat Manga)
Author: Chica Umino
Genre: Shojo (Graphic Novel)
MSRP: $8.99 US
Rating: T+ (Older Teen)
Release Date: Available Now
When love triangles start falling apart.
Chica Umino … you have no idea how your Honey and Clover series has a hold on the people in this rather spacious office. Since the first volume arrived, it not only became something of an office favorite with the ladies but it also has a hold on the lads as well (especially Clive who is the first to take it from my desk Shinobu Morita-style). Oh yes, Honey and Clover is just one of many of our favorite manga series and with good reason.
While the first two volumes set up the two sets of love triangles, this third volume takes one triangle further while the other seems to calm down. Takemoto had always had a feeling in the back of his mind that maybe the mad-yet-brilliant Morita has feeling for Hagu who is starting to cope with the fact that her uncle Hanamoto is out on assignment in Mongolia. However, as graduation and final semester projects loom ever so closely, Hagu is finding it hard to come up with something worthy of her artistic talents. Thankfully, the pressure of turning out something brilliant is diminished thanks to her friends Yamada, Takemoto, Mayama and (in his own way) Morita. Morita even makes her a birdie broach to cheer Hagu up.
The five of them have become closer than ever and share everything from a late night supper that was Mayama’s treat (thanks to the fact that he is now working for an architectural firm) to a little field trip to Odaiba. The trip, Takemoto feels, is something special seeing as they were complete strangers a few years ago and now so close that he can’t imagine not seeing them again. On the other hand, as Takemoto is now a senior in school, it might be the last chance the five of them would get together like this again. Of course, when they reach one of Odaiba’s attractions, a giant Ferris wheel, it becomes a bit awkward when they attempt to pair up. Pushing Mayama and Yamada together in one gondola, Morita sticks with Takemoto and Hagu were tension is certainly felt by the trio.
Takemoto has always had an inkling that Mayama might like Hagu the same way he does and in this volume his hunch becomes truth. It’s Mayama (of all people) who picks up on this right away and tells Takemoto that giving up before he even steps into the ring is a good way to not only lose the fight but lose all the progress he made with Hagu. It’s pretty amazing how a talented yet introverted girl like Hagu was able to be comfortable around him as well as branch out to become more social to the point of accepting Yamada’s offer of working over the holiday selling cake and roasted chicken. As the small street vendors attempt to compete against a Wal-Mart-like franchise, it is Hagu who saves the day by encouraging the vendors to gussy up their shops and even helps create a giant bear made of balloons.
Yet when Hanamoto-sensei does return, Hagu once again falls back to relying on him. In one chapter, she asks Hanamoto to accompany him to an art store only to have Morita offer to take her instead. The result is a very awkward outing Hagu doesn’t enjoy whatsoever. It’s clear that she’s interested in Morita and appreciated the birdie broach he made for her but it’s uncomfortable being with him to the point that she hides from him during a cherry blossom viewing festival. It is in that same festival that the local street vendors begin to wonder how a guy like Mayama still has a hold over Yamada’s heart.
Oh, but the best part comes in the final chapter when Morita encounters Hagu alone outside campus. I won’t spoil things by telling you what happened but it’s an event that changes everything to the point that Hagu becomes physically ill as a result of it. Sensing that something had happened between the two, Takemoto races to find Morita by hoping into the car of the young man who is somehow connected to the reason that Morita always disappears for several weeks. This is also the first time we see Takemoto show anger towards Morita
This is, personally speaking, one of my favorite volumes of Honey and Clover so far. Yes, it’s a bit on the moody side but I genuinely love how Takemoto waxes philosophically and Chica Umino’s sense of humor is fun and (as we see in the extra short chapter in the end of the volume called Pukkun and Milky Tea) actually cute without being too over sweetened. Plus, there’s just something about her art that just does it for me.
Volume 3 of Honey and Clover is the volume that stands out so far and it will surprise you towards the end of it. Wonderfully written and still filled with the pleasant humor that made the first two volumes fun to read, it is clear that Honey and Clover isn’t your garden variety shojo fare but rather a series that truly deserves its faithful following.
As graduation and end-of-term projects draw ever closer, Hagu finds that she just can’t get Morita out of her mind despite the fact that it’s uncomfortable being around him. Meanwhile, Takemoto feels like he’s losing everything. This volume also includes a short chapter that was featured in an issue of Bessatsu Young You. Also, is it me or is Morita getting nuttier with every volume?
I said it before and I’ll say it again. Chica Umino’s art is uniquely her own and – for my money – it works wonderfully. There are panels where the art really stands out and the covers are always my favorite.
Honey and Clover, Volume 3, is a more meaningful and highly-enjoyable volume in the series thanks to the fact that the love triangle that is Hagu, Morita and Takemoto becomes a tad more complex. How good is it, you might ask? Let’s just say that everyone in this office is waiting to get their hands on it … again.