Haru Hana

September 1, 2010 dreamkaleidoscope
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TITLE: Haru Hana
RATING: Teen (13+)
NUMBER OF VOLUMES: 3 (released as an omnibus)
SCORE: 6 (Fine)
RECOMMENDED FOR FANS OF: Yuana Kazumi (mangaka of Flower of the Deep Sleep and A Million Tears), romance, humor, drama

I wasn’t quite sure what I was in for with Haru Hana. I bought it solely on the basis of the cute cover art and the fact that the entire series could be had in one affordably priced omnibus edition. (I’m always a sucker for omnibus editions…)

Teenager Hana Yamada has an unusual condition: whenever she is touched by a guy, particularly a cute one, she breaks out into itchy hives. The only thing that can cure them is drinking green tea. When she moves in with her older sister in Tokyo, Hana hopes for a fresh start where nobody knows about her weird disease. Unfortunately, her debut at her new school doesn’t go exactly as planned.

To make matters worst, her sister forces her to take a job at a local relaxation room to pay off her debts for her. Said relaxation room happens to be run by two good-looking guys: the owner Shinnosuke, an older gay man who provides refreshments for the customers, and Haru, the amnesiac masseur, who also happens to be one of her new classmates. Haru quickly becomes the bane of Hana’s existence, often touching her on purpose just to see her break out. But underneath his prickly personality, Hana realizes he’s actually a very kind and empathic person and tries to help him deal with his missing memories.

There’s nothing really special about this series at first. It’s a fairly standard high school romance in which the lead couple seems to hate each other at first, but begin to develop feelings for each other once they start spending more time together. It’s a storyline you see all the time, and even though it’s labeled by Tokyopop as a comedy, I didn’t find it particularly funny, since most of the humor centers around Haru touching Hana and causing her to break out in hives. I suppose it’s kind of funny when he (or another guy) does it unintentionally, but when Haru does it on purpose, it just comes off as plain mean and makes it rather hard to like him.

But things start to improve in the third volume, which is devoted almost exclusively to the mystery of Haru’s lost memories. The reason why Haru lost his memories is quite shocking, considering how light-hearted the rest of the series is, and gives the story some much appreciated depth. Though I haven’t read her other two works that were released in English, I strongly suspect that Kazumi is better at doing drama than she is humor, because while it took me several days to get through the first two volumes, I couldn’t put the book down once I got to the last one. I even started liking the pairing of Haru and Hana by the end, which honestly surprised me, since I wasn’t a fan at first.

I think the strongest aspect of the series is the artwork. I already mentioned that the cover art was one of the things that drew me to Haru Hana, and it makes me kind of sad that this is an omnibus edition, since that means we only get one cover. While the other two covers are provided as extras at the back of the book, they’re in black and white, which lessens their impact. I wouldn’t have minded paying a little extra to get them in color.

Still, the art inside is just as charming as the cover. It’s cute without being childishly cute. The characters actually look their age, and their eyes are only just a tad larger than necessary. I especially liked Hana’s design. No one would mistake her for being movie star gorgeous — her hairstyle actually reminds me a little of Lisa Simpson, of all characters! — but she’s adorable and attractive in an off-beat kind of way that’s refreshing compared to the prettier shoujo heroines you often see. I will mention that it was almost impossible to distinguish between Shinnosuke and his cousin Aoi, though. Their faces are pretty much identical, and even their hairstyles are nearly the same.  

Had this series not been released as an omnibus, I’m not sure I would recommend it. I loved the artwork, and Hana was a likeable heroine, but the humor fell flat most of the time and the plot didn’t really pick up until nearly the end. However, getting a complete, three-volume series for about $17 retail isn’t a bad deal, and I don’t regret picking it up. While it may not be the best series in the world, I feel I got my money’s worth.


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One Comment Add your own

  • 1. A Million Tears « M&hellip  |  November 10, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    […] in this review for Haru Hana, I put forth the hypothesis that mangaka Yuana Kazumi was better at portraying drama than she was […]

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