And so Honey and Clover Vol. 1 becomes the first out of my planned 250 manga volumes to be finished. Since it’s my first 2013 Manga Read challenge volume I figured I might as well dedicate a short post to my thoughts on it in order to really kick off the Challenge.
So Honey and Clover volume 1. I watched a bit of the anime a few ago, and though I never got around to finishing it, I remember liking it a lot because of the unrequited love storyline. I thought the drama was really well done in that I empathized with the characters and couldn’t help but hope each would end up finding some sort of happiness in the end. When I saw that my local library had the series I jumped on the first few volumes to see what the manga version was like, and as it turns out, the first volume, at least, is pretty good.
The basic story revolves around several art college students in Tokyo, Takumi Mayama, Shinobu Morita, Yuuta Takemoto, Ayumi Yamada, and, the newest member, Hagu Hanamoto, and their trials (and I’m hoping triumphs) as they stumble through these first few years of adulthood, falling in love, trying to find work, and simply trying to discover more about themselves. The first volume mostly revolves around introducing the characters and hinting at the various problems each is facing. So far, everyone’s pretty likable and I’m looking forward to seeing more of each’s personality. At only one volume in, I’m a bit surprised at how the characters have been built up to already feel multi-dimensional and not flat stereotypes. Not that I’m complaining, though, since it’s something I definitely appreciate because it only foretells good things to come.
Another surprising aspect of the volume is how comedic it manages to be in tone. There’s a lot of goofing around as Mayama, Morita, and Takemoto run around school and hang out with each other. Despite the abundance of sillier moments, the volume did make sure to dedicate some time to some more serious, melancholy moments.
What I really like about the drama and angst in Honey and Clover is that it isn’t overwhelming and it’s well done. Most of the really dramatic moments are short and don’t linger too much on making me feel overly depressed for the characters. Sure those moments do an excellent job of creating a sense of empathy for character, but they don’t completely beat me over the head with the sense I have to be sympathetic and sad. Those comedic instances that I mentioned earlier really help the manga out in terms of creating an enjoyable balance between the crying and pensive looks and the silly hijinks.
In terms of the manga’s art, it took a bit of getting used to for me (about half a volume to be precise). The drawing style leans a bit towards the sketchy side, especially when it comes to the faces, but the characters are expressive and the chibis, who show up primarily during the more light-hearted scenes, are really fun to look at. I suppose my one minor complaint is that the characters sometimes look a bit awkward, but they can also look absolutely fantastic during important scenes so my quibble isn’t too major. In fact, I went browsing through some of the colored stuff earlier today and,discovered that her art style only becomes prettier when it’s in color.
All in all, Honey and Clover‘s first volume was a good start to a manga that I think I’m going to enjoy reading. I get the feeling that the ride isn’t going to be completely enjoyable or satisfactory, but, in the end, I think that’s going to be the kind of story that fits Honey and Clover best with it’s focus on the growing pains that come with growing up and into who one is.