Honey and Clover, Vol. 9 – Manga Review

Review by: Sophie Stevens

Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Chica Umino
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shojo Beat Manga)
MSRP: $9.99 US
Rating: T+ (Older Teen)
Release Date: Now available

The true inner strength of Hagumi Hanamoto.

At this point Chica Umino ceases to surprise me because, with each volume of Honey and Clover, I know I can come to expect yet another volume that reminds me why I continue to adore this shoujo manga. With the series heading towards its tenth volume, Honey and Clover seemingly never runs out of events that change the way you look at life and love and all the things in-between. The same can be said about Volume 10 as we witness the surprising strength of one of its smallest characters.

First, though, the series introduces us to two very polar opposite little boys who are always wide-eyed with wonder at the fascinating inventions their mad genius of a father creates in his laboratory. These boys are Shinobu and Kaoru Morita, the sons of Tsukasa Morita. Tsukasa is the type of man that would drop what he’s doing to head home to eat his beautiful wife’s curry or have potential new employees compete for the job game show-style. He’s the type of man who would invent tiny robots and other amazing inventions and name them after his children.

Working for Tsukasa Morita is nothing short of craziness and just about the only employee with his feet firmly placed on reality is actually his cousin named Tatsuo. In a business with many competitors and rivals, Morita is doing good by his family and employees. Yet one day, Tatsuo – partly for reasons that involve money and another mainly because he is jealous of the man – sells all the major shares of their company to their rivals at Floyd Electric. The result, as you can imagine, is catastrophic.

Yet Morita is the type of man who is noble enough to teach his kids not to hate their Uncle Tatsuo and carry the burden of hatred with them. Unfortunately, Kaoru isn’t able to put the hatred of his Uncle’s betrayal behind and for a reason that’s nearly similar to Tatsuo’s reasons for betraying Tsukasa. These two share a common sentiment and understanding but that doesn’t mean he’s willing to forgive and forget the man who sold his father out to the greedy company owner of Floyd Electric.

Several years later, Kaoru dragged Shinobu into obtaining enough money and resources to carry out the ultimate revenge against the owner of Floyd Electric. While lacking Shinobu’s artistic genius, Kaoru is something of a master in planning and executing vengeance and he not only destroys the company and regains the old patents the Morita brothers’ father created but they also completely ruin the company owner as well.

Meanwhile, Mayama receives a fax from Rika-san who needs the younger man in Florencia, Spain seeing as the top architect over there is all over her like a Spanish bullfighter’s outfit. As he rushes to be by her side, Hagumi and Takemoto talk about the future. It seems that Takemoto – after his long journey of self-discovery – has figured out what he wants to do with his life. Hagu, on the other hand, says she does but a part of her really isn’t so sure.

Then, on that same windy day, Hagumi Hanamoto’s life takes a most unexpected turn when she is badly injured on her way to the studio. As her friends quickly learn about her injury, it is Takemoto and Yamada that stays by her side as they discover a most startling fact about Hagu’s injuries and what it could mean to her future as an artist. With the injury threatening her art, we witness Hagumi at her worst and at her most stunningly strongest. We also witness the return of another who rushes to be by her side as well.

Volume 9 of Honey and Clover looks into the past of Shinobu and his brother while quietly and surprisingly reveals to us a dark moment for Hagumi and yes it is all handled just as beautifully as past volumes in this series. This is a very revealing volume in the series that shows us great weakness as well as great strength and you can bet that it will keep you glued to your copy from beginning to end.

MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: A+
A rarely seen look into the past of Shinobu Morita and his brother as we witness the creative genius that is their father fall victim to a great betrayal by the hands of none other than a trusted family member. As Mayama rushes to Rika-san’s side in Spain, Hagumi – who is tortured by thoughts of her future – is badly injured in an accident.

ART: A
There’s not a lot I can say that already has been said about Chica Umino’s original art but I should say that I continue to fall in love with the covers and the comical sight gags tossed throughout each volume.

OVERALL: A+
A tragic accident and the fascinating look into the past of the Morita brothers makes Volume 9 of Honey and Clover yet another reason why we think Chica Umino is absolutely brilliant. While a bit on the somber side, the series never strays far from its poetic, funny and enchanting moments that fill the pages of this still extraordinary shoujo manga.

Review copy provided by VIZ Media

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