Honey and Clover, Vol. 1

Chica Umino, Author, Chica Umino, Illustrator . Viz $8.99 (0p) ISBN 978-1-4215-1504-5

Takemoto is starting his sophomore year in art school, and he’s finally gotten used to the isolated farmland and the insane amount of work. But as it turns out, his troubles are just beginning, as he meets his fellow students: the mysterious, brilliant Morita Senpai and the diminutive prodigy, Hagumi Hanamoto. Senpai disappears for days at a time only to reappear laden down with unexplained wads of cash. Hagumi is small enough to be mistaken for Koropokkur—a Japanese faerie—and is soon the star of a Web site for Koropokkur fetishists. Takemoto, of course, soon finds himself falling for Hagumi and competing with Senpai for her affections. But this manga, winner of several prestigious awards in Japan, is more shaggy-dog stories of college life than tightly plotted romantic comedy. Like her plotting, Umino’s artwork is slapdash—at its best it nicely captures some of the shambling chaos of college life, but sometimes the chaos is more confusing than kinetic. In particular, her stilted, wide-eyed renderings of Hagumi create a creepy “Valley of the Dolls” effect that makes it difficult to imagine Takemoto falling for her. Still, the characters remain likable, and the story may be just the thing for those who daydream of escaping to dormitory life. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 12/24/2007
Release date: 03/01/2008
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