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: Available Now
Is it really better to have loved than to not love at all?
Ah, sadly, all good things must come to an end and Volume 10 marks the final four chapters of this funny, sweet and beautifully told story of art school students finding love but, more importantly, finding themselves in the process. Since the manga was introduced to us at the office, we’ve found it difficult to wrestle it way from our fellow reviewer Clive Owen. I agree with him completely when he said that this is not only a shoujo manga that guys could even love but it is also a brilliant piece of literature that will make this a true classic.
Volume 10 picks up directly after the events of the last volume as Shinobu Morita ran to Hagumi’s side after her horrible accident that badly injured her arm. Although she’s afraid of what will happen if she isn’t able to get her hand working properly again, she allows Morita to take her away from the hospital. Her relationship with the oddball genius has always been as strange as the young man itself but she has always admired his artistic abilities but there’s something else and this volume reveals it.
Yet after they share an endearing night together, Hagu wakes up with no feeling in her hand and it frightens her to the point that she has Morita rush her back to the hospital. What they find is Hanamoto-sensei who lets Morita have it and I don’t mean verbally. While Hagu was away, Takemoto discovers that Hanamoto has already decided what he wants to do for Hagu and the decision is actually quite surprising, to say the least. The kindhearted professor was always watching out for Hagu and it becomes clear to Takemoto why although it is Morita who actually spells out it for everyone – and I mean everyone – to hear. Yamada’s reaction to Hanamoto’s declaration is priceless, by the way.
Meanwhile, Morita returns to his brother empty-handed since Hagu has already made her choice as to who she wants to be with and so the young man goes back to his brother who got his revenge from the man who ruined his family. However, Kaoru Morita isn’t completely heartless and does the man he just ruined a huge favor. Together with his brother, Shinobu makes a decision as to what to do with his life.
Finally, there’s Takemoto who has accepted all that just went on between Morita and the Professor. He has a brief yet memorable scuffle with Morita in the process but he makes it clear that he will remember their little confrontation fondly. As he packs his things and prepares to leave to join the crew of temple restorers he met during his little bike trip, he says farewell to his friend and – more importantly – to the tiny girl that changed his life forever. This is definitely one of those moments you need a hanky for and I have to admit that I needed more than one. Then again, beautifully written farewells always do it for me.
While the four final chapters are a bit on the short side, Chica Umino includes two bonus Honey and Clover stories and two original unrelated stories that are actually really good. In the bonus Honey stories, one has Takemoto, Mayama and Professor Hanamoto reflecting on one particular Valentine’s Day when Yamada and Hagu made them rock-hard scones. In the second bonus, Mayama and Hanamoto-sensei talk about dating parties and how Yamada ruins them as the two play a game of shogi.
The original stories were made for different publications and both are actually quite good while the other is just simply beautiful. In one story, a young girl who designs and sells her own handbags is reflecting on her relationship with her boyfriend who is beginning to take all she does for him for granted. Is it really love if she’s the only one making an effort? Perhaps, but she finds out the truth when her boyfriend comes back after he was thrown out of the apartment they share.
The second story is actually quite beautiful in that it tells the story of a human boy living in a planet composed of cute furry critters. Having been adopted by a couple, the boy is part of the community but still feels much like the outsider until the chance arrives for the boy to go to a space university. It is in the university that the boy meets another human for the first time and suddenly his life changes.
Volume 10 of Honey and Clover is a sweet and touching goodbye to a series we have certainly come to love and characters we have come to adore. As the characters come to realize the truth about themselves and love in general, the story’s final chapter becomes a proper closing that is not only surprising but just as endearing as the first chapter of this enjoyable instant classic. Thank you, Chica Umino, for such a lovely and unforgettable manga.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Having run off with Morita, Hagu returns to the hospital where Hanamoto-sensei has come to a decision that will remove him from his job as a teacher. It becomes clear to Morita that there’s something more to the relationship between H and Hagu and accepts it. Meanwhile, after graduation, Takemoto bids an emotional farewell to his friends and Hagu. The volume also includes two Honey and Clover shorts as well as two original unrelated stories as well.
The art has always been different from other shoujo manga and that is what makes this series so delightfully unique. Even the covers for this series are beautiful and lively like the characters featured in its pages.
In the final volume of Honey and Clover, a fond farewell to friends that are moving on and the girl who changed the lives of everyone around her finally finds the strength to continue. Just as it was hard for the characters to say goodbye, the same can be said about us who will miss the story and these characters.
COMPLETE SERIES GRADE: A+
Not only is Honey and Clover one of the best shoujo manga series you will find out there but it is easily one of the best comics that transcends the genre and cultural differences. Chica Umino has brilliantly crafted a story with enough depth and feeling to makes the characters and story so believable and easy to love. We are so looking forward to Umino’s next manga series.
Review copy provided by VIZ Media