It’s not easy being the daughter of famous parents, as Yura Onozuka well knows. Her mother’s a sought-after actress and her father a renowned composer, and people are always expecting Yura to have that special celebrity air. She walks a tightrope at school, trying to appear neither aloof nor smug, and the only person who really sees her for herself is her childhood friend, Shin. She dreams of leaving her parents behind, but they beat her to the punch, as she learns when her mother comes home one day and spontaneously announces that she’s divorcing Yura’s father and selling the family home, and that he’s having a baby with his girlfriend. Yura thinks to turn to Shin, only to catch him in her mother’s arms. The betrayal is too much and she ends up declaring on live TV that both her parents can go to hell.
Determined to beat her mother at something, she accepts an offer from her father’s manager, Keiichi, to represent her and starts staying with him while going out on auditions and bombing terribly. Along the way, she meets a pair of twin brother pop stars, Q-ta and Haruka, and advice from Q-ta gives her the confidence she needs to intrigue the director of a commercial enough to finally get a callback. It’s not until Yura’s cast as the main character that she learns that a TV series is part of the deal and that, though he pledged to keep her parentage a secret, Keiichi broke that promise pretty much immediately, since it’s his job to make her popular. Most of the second volume involves Yura coming to terms with this reality and also trying to work out how to intentionally access the “switch” in her that flips and allows her to become a character.
Superficially, Honey Hunt has some similarities to Skip Beat!. Both Yura and Kyoko have been betrayed by male childhood friends they had feelings for, both have cruel mothers, and both seek to achieve fame as a means of revenge. In execution, though, it’s really a lot different. For one thing, with two fairly sweet male rockers hanging around and offering encouragement, the potential for and emphasis on romance is much stronger. Also, Yura is much calmer than Kyoko is. In fact, one of the best things I like about her is that she’s refreshingly normal. She has bouts of insecurity, true, and sometimes her refusal to believe that people could like her for herself gets a little tiresome, but on the whole she’s smart, interesting, sympathetic, and free of over-the-top smackworthy behavior. If Yura were a real person, I’d be happy to know her.
Miki Aihara’s art is generally good. Her interior backgrounds are lovely, and she’s a master of the profile angle. Sometimes, though, the three-quarter view seems to give her a bit of trouble; either that, or the characters’ eyes are supposed to look kind of misshapen and weird at those moments. In any case, I like Yura’s character design a lot, I like how the twins will occasionally look very much alike when taken unawares, and I like how Yura’s confidence when really getting into a role is portrayed.
It’s kind of unusual for me to like a shoujo heroine this much; I’ve been feeling lately that I’ve been rather down on them, so it’s nice to be able to really like one for a change! While the story interests me, it’s really for Yura that I’ll continue reading.
Honey Hunt is published in English by VIZ and three volumes have been released so far. The series is up to five volumes in Japan and is still ongoing.