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Honey and Clover, Volume 1

Review

Honey and Clover, Volume 1

For all of those readers out there looking for a story with crushes, wacky friends and eccentric students, HONEY AND CLOVER offers all of the above. Unlike every other manga in the world, though, it features friendships as much as romances and prefers honest, awkward conversations over girls manga's romantic declarations or boys manga's earnest heroism. In short, HONEY AND CLOVER is hilariously, painfully real.

Takemoto lives in a ramshackle but cheap apartment building with a crowd of other college art students. They all make their way through school depending on each other, from munching on each other's extra food to acting as each other's alarm clocks as necessary. The guys deal with a lot of ordinary troubles, from struggling with assignments to recovering from too much fun over the weekend. Takemoto himself is an everyman, kind and cheerful, who is thrown off course by the arrival of the diminutive new student Hagumi, whose tiny stature hides extraordinary talent. Mayama, a steady student who is always there to help his buddies, is slowly revealed to be nursing a crush on an older woman. Morita, a student overdue to graduate who good-naturedly exploits his friends due to a desperate need for cash, is the most oddball of the bunch. One of the first chuckles in the story arrives when Morita's growing crush on new arrival Hagumi manifests itself in his persistent mission to photograph her as a "real" fairy girl, terrorizing her and amusing his friends.

Events unreel slowly without fanfare: everyone goes on a picnic or heads over to a professor's for a party, or simply hangs out. The fun is in the characters, and the emotional ride is compelling even as it remains low key. Chica Umino's sketchy, adorable art style suits the story to a T, and whenever a character veers toward stereotypes, as Hagumi's childlike interactions can, a deft line of dialogue keeps everything in the realm of realism. The subtle shifts in emotions happen eloquently, through expressions and gestures, as when the reader realizes the object of Mayama's affection understands his feelings but cannot address them, or when Takemoto determines to build Hagumi the toy of her dreams just to make her smile.

The pace may lose readers used to the manic fun of many manga comedies, but to those who want a different kind of story, HONEY AND CLOVER will feel like settling into an evening with friends who you've known forever.

Reviewed by on October 18, 2011

Honey and Clover, Volume 1
by Chica Umino

  • Publication Date: March 4, 2008
  • Genres: Manga
  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: VIZ Media LLC
  • ISBN-10: 1421515040
  • ISBN-13: 9781421515045