Chica Umino is the creator of Honey and Clover, which debuted in 2000 and received the Kodansha Manga Award in 2003. Honey and Clover was also nominated for the Tezuka Culture Prize and an award from the Japan Media Arts Festival.
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.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
This deeply involving and emotional manga about art college students trying to find their way in the world is something like a Japanese Friends. Talented postgrad potter Ayu has loved Mayama for years, but he thinks only of his beautiful architect boss, Rika, scarred emotionally and physically in the accident that killed her husband. Tiny Hagumi's paintings are celebrated, but the pressure to produce leaves her struggling with inspiration and motivation-and her shyness renders her unable to deal with the feelings the earnest Takemoto and the loopy Morita both have for her. By this eighth of ten volumes, the desire to see how these characters work things out and move forward in life is palpable; change begins to come, as the two most intractable hearts of the series finally start to bend. VERDICT Umino occasionally relieves the heartfelt introspection (focused on each major character in turn) with crazy comedy. Though marketed as shojo, this is a josei manga written for an adult female audience, though so far it's not inappropriate for teens. Strongly recommended for fans of Maison Ikkoku and the non-otaku aspects of Genshiken.-S.R. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.