Manga-ka: Miki Aihara
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: December 2010
Synopsis: “With Yura and Q-ta’s relationship now revealed to the public, Mizorogi will need to decide whether or not to interfere. What will Haruka do when he has the chance to tell Yura his true feelings? And when Q-ta visits Yura at her house, the two of them end up in the bedroom all alone…”
This volume of Honey Hunt focuses on the love triangle between main character Yura and brothers Q-ta and Haruka. It’s a complicated situation only made worse by the fact that all three are celebrities and have to juggle their professional and personal lives. Yet, even though they’re famous, the characters themselves are relatively grounded, with no one emerging outright as the obvious choice or bad guy.
A moment of silence for the dearly departed Shojo Beat. While I still enjoy reading Shonen Jump every month, I miss my monthly dose of shojo sweetness. Since Shojo Beat went under I’ve been pretty negligent about keeping up with the series that ran in its pages. This is the first time I’ve read Honey Hunt since the magazine went belly up, but I still found the events in this volume easy to follow and understand.
Honey Hunt was never my favourite of the Shojo Beat line-up, not when great manga like Sand Chronicles, Honey and Clover, and Nana graced the pages. But Honey Hunt was always a kind of guiltily pleasure, a slick and shallow shojo romance that went down easy and was easily forgotten afterwards. Reading it in book format hasn’t really changed my opinion. It’s still pretty and vapid, but that’s not necessarily a knock against it. Honey Hunt may have more sparkles than substance, but sometimes that’s what you need.
And Honey Hunt isn’t all fluff. The love triangle that the characters are engaged in is a believable one that seems more natural than contrived. Yura and Q-ta may be going out, but they still have problems and fights. Whenever that happens, Haruka, Q-ta’s brother, is torn between comforting Yura and confessing his feelings for her. Usually he messes things up by doing a mix of both. Haruka is probably my favourite character in the manga and the manga-ka draws out his dilemma in a way that is both funny and sympathetic.
The other characters have their own shades of grey as well. Q-ta is a nice guy, but he often does things that hurt Yura without realizing how much pain he’s causing her, making her hurt even more. But he also has his moments of extreme kindness and consideration, making it hard to dislike him.
Yura is probably the weakest point in the love triangle. She’s a pretty passive character, letting most of the other characters decide things for her (even when she makes her own decisions, it’s usually a case of her agreeing to another character’s idea). Her passivity allows her manager, Mizorogi, to pull strings behind the scenes, manipulating not only Yura’s career but her private life as well. Mizorogi tells himself that he is doing it with Yura’s future in mind, but as this volume shows his intentions may not be as kind-hearted as he thinks they are.
Miki Aihara’s character designs are really eye-catching. Her characters are simply cool, from their haircuts to their clothes to the phones they use. I’ve always liked her character designs in that they manage to look very shojo while still modern. However, there are plenty of times when a good-looking character is ruined by an awful perspective. It’s kind of boggling how a professional manga-ka as big as Miki Aihara can’t draw a face proportionally if it’s tilted slightly in any direction. The slants of the eyes go all wonky and the mouth never seems to be in the right place. There’s also other anatomy issues, such as hands almost as big as a character’s face (there’s an example of this right on the cover).
Something Aihara has a better eye for is page layouts. The panels are always laid out clearly and help move the story along. There’s a seen early in the volume where Yura and Q-ta get intimate, and while it quickly fades to black it’s one of the better sex scenes I’ve seen in a shojo manga recently.
Honey Hunt is a fun manga marred by the occasional quirk in the art. Even though the monster hands and skewed faces jarred me, I still enjoyed reading this volume.