Honey So Sweet, Vol. 1

By Amu Meguro. Released in Japan as “Honey” by Shueisha, serialized in the magazine Bessatsu Margaret. Released in North America by Viz.

In general I try to avoid reading back cover copy when I get a book, as it frequently tends to spoil the entire volume, particularly with manga titles. That said, I wouldn’t have to worry about that with Honey So Sweet, which wastes absolutely no time telling us what our premise is. Bad boy delinquent is secretly a big sweetie pie. We’ve seen this before, and not just in shoujo, and if that’s all there was to this title I’d likely be saving it fro a Brief review and moving on. But it also has the heroine, Nao, who is shy in all the worst ways – life has left her with an intense desire to avoid conflict, and so when Taiga confesses to her the initial reaction is “if I say no, he’ll kill me’.

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I’ve talked before about how difficult it can be to keep readers from abandoning a series when you write someone with major character flaws. To be fair, it is easier to do so when your heroine is of the wallflower variety than if she’s a selfish ball of temper. But Nao is the early parts of this volume is someone that is seemingly making all the wrong choices in an effort to just slide by in life – and she knows it, as she keeps repeating it to herself. Her parents have passed away at an early age, and much of her narrative monologue is done as communication with their souls in heaven. Her She’s living with her mother’s younger sister, who she has a massive complex for since he took her in and has sacrificed quite a bit for her. And she (not surprisingly) always seems depressed.

So it’s great seeing Taiga slowly manage to get Nao to have fun, and show actual effort, and elicit feelings from her that aren’t “go along with him because SCARED!”. We learn less about him in this volume, except that he tries a bit too hard to help out everyone, particularly Nao, but that’s the point – he’s the nice guy at heart, and you have to look past his face. By the end of the volume, Nao’s uncle is remarking on the fact that she’s smiling a lot more these days, and it’s a great thing to see, as now we can see her moving forward in life and doing things she’s good at.

In many ways this is very typical shoujo romance – we’ve seen Taiga’s sort in hundreds of other titles. We have two others who form a core group with our hero and heroine, and one is the tsundere hothead guy who speaks before he thinks, which again we’ve seen before. The other is Kayo, who’s grumpy, stoic, and seemingly written as a gift to me – I really want to see more from her in future volumes. Together they don’t make this title unmissable, but they make it enjoyable, and by the end Nao has developed enough so that you’re rooting for her as well.

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