Review by: Sophie Stevens
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Chica Umino
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shojo Beat Manga)
MSRP: $8.99 US
Rating: T+ (Older Teen)
Release Date: Available Now
Unquestionably, positively, yet another reason to love manga.
The girls in this office know we found a truly distinguishable and wonderfully rare gem in Honey and Clover when a manly jock like our own Clive Owen – who crushes beer cans with his biceps while bungie jumping – is so in love with this Shojo Beat series that he practically begs to read it after the review is done and runs to my desk wanting to talk about the story. Yep, Honey and Clover is the type of manga series worthy of reducing an ex-quarterback into a guy happily freeing his inner shojo fan.
Enough about Clive’s very vocal love about Honey and Clover, though, because Volume 4 is here and – since its stellar first volume – it’s one of the best volumes in the series so far. In Volume 3, Morita took a hold of the diminutive Hagu and kissed her. The aftermath was akin to being the survivor of a massive explosion that left Hagu dazed and very confused and now that he has taken off to Los Angeles his absence has left things up in the air. Even Takemoto begins to wonder if he prefers that Morita doesn’t come back at all.
More surprisingly, though, is that Volume 4 is more about Mayama. In fact, we learn a lot more about him in this one than in the previous three volumes and in learning more about him we are revealed feelings that, in the past, have only been hinted at but never truly confirmed. In the middle of all of this, of course, is his friend Yamada who is still clinging to the possibility that Mayama might return her love. Unfortunately for Yamada, however, Mayama is madly in love with Rika-san who he hasn’t seen in a year.
Working for another firm, a job assignment has Mayama working closely with Yamada thanks to her skills in ceramics. In the span of a few days, Yamada enjoys her time with the young architect student she loves and – to her delight – Mayama shows up more often to hang out with Hanamoto-sensei’s favorite bunch of art students. Yet Mayama comes to a realization – after waking up next to Takemoto (who doesn’t have air conditioning in his room) – that something is missing in his life. Sure, he has a great job with three motivated co-workers, but his love life is nonexistent.
Throwing themselves back into their art, Takemoto and Hagu hardly even notice Yamada’s insistence on trying to impress Mayama like she did before she realized that Mayama was not going to let go of the idea of being with Rika-san. In one chapter, Hanamoto invites Mayama to join them in a shrine festival and thus pushing Yamada into dressing up in traditional Yukata just for him. There’s a heartbreaking moment that takes place during the festival.
We are also introduced to one of Mayama’s co-workers named Nomiya who takes an interest in Yamada and – most especially – Mayama’s relationship with her. I won’t go too much into it but Nomiya’s intentions might even be questionable when he joins Mayama and Yamada in making more vases for a client. Nomiya’s questioning brings up some rather interesting questions about what Yamada really means to Mayama and why he even insists on protecting her from the ladies man that is Nomiya. What does become clear is that Yamada truly, genuinely loves Mayama and will not give up on him … even though Rika-san suddenly comes into Mayama’s life again.
Honey and Clover, Volume 4, rises to the very top of my favorite volumes for many reasons that go beyond the fact that Umino’s work never runs out of steam or genuinely funny moments. If anything, Volume 4 showcases beautifully poetic writing that is probably one of many reasons that Honey and Clover won the Kodansha Manga Award back in 2003.
Oh, yeah, Clive … get your own copy because this one is mine.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
We dive further into the complexity of Mayama’s love life whether it’s his continued pursuit of Rika-san in hopes that she will return his affections as well as try hard not to hurt Yamada any further. Meanwhile, one of Mayama’s co-workers has an interest in Yamada that just doesn’t sit well with Mayama.
It’s becoming something of a habit to mention how Chica Umino’s art is not just refreshingly original but also gorgeous in its own stylish way. Somehow, the art in this volume is better than past volumes and the cover is just one of my favorites.
Ok, I’ve listed a number of reasons why I love this manga and expressed my love for the first volume in the series but Volume 4 of Honey and Clover is not only one of the best volumes to date but it is also one beautifully told story that makes us glad we picked up this series.