Honey and Clover 6 by Chica Umino: A-

honeyclover6Yuta Takemoto, the nominal protagonist of Honey and Clover, has been battling feelings of insecurity and inferiority for some time. When he finally gets a job offer, only to receive news of the company’s sudden bankruptcy during his celebration party, it suddenly becomes too much and he takes off on a bicycle journey to find himself. Meanwhile, Yamada starts forming a bond with Nomiya, one of Mayama’s former coworkers, and Hagu faces pressure to “make a lasting impact” with her art, when all she wants to do is live a quiet country life financed by the occasional sale of a painting.

Like volume five before it, volume six mixes pivotal moments for several of its characters with moments of over-the-top zaniness. While the series has always blended humor and drama—and, indeed, a chapter in which the gang helps a bakery with its Father’s Day special is very funny—lately it seems that the comedy has become more outlandish, especially where Morita is concerned. It’s hard to completely dislike him, since he can be considerate and insightful when he tries, but his antics just don’t do it for me.

Those pivotal moments, however, are definitely worth the price of admission; Umino is adept at creating endearing characters with whom readers, whether in the midst of youth or thankfully beyond it, can identify and sympathize. Another thing at which she particularly excels is subtle comparison, be it equating Yamada’s unrequited love for Mayama with the broken stem of a plant that she just can’t bring herself to prune, or likening Takemoto’s genius-adjacent situation to that of Professor Hanamoto, who, in his own college days, also had fabulously talented friends whose world he could never fully enter. Even a hilariously unsubtle comparison between Nomiya, who has just shed the baggage of youth, and Mayama, who is wrapped in it like a cocoon, is excellent.

Because of the universality of the characters’ struggles, this is one of those series with the capacity to appeal to anyone—male or female, old or young, suave or awkward—and make them earnestly desire a happy outcome.

Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at Manga Recon.

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