Honey and Clover 8 by Chica Umino: A

honeyclover8After an excellent seventh volume focusing primarily on Takemoto and his journey of self-discovery, Chica Umino replicates the feat with another fantastic installment, this one centering on Yamada and the choice she faces: continue to torture herself by working alongside the long-time object of her affections, Mayama, and the woman he loves or accept the chance to move on presented by Nomiya, Mayama’s coworker.

It’s so very easy to sympathize with Yamada here as she vacillates between anguish over and tearful acceptance of the palpable shift in Mayama and Rika’s relationship. Though she recognizes she has no chance, it’s still difficult to let go of her feelings. Not only did she think she could prove her love was strong by persisting for so long, it also kept her safe from fresh heartbreak. Now, she must finally admit to herself that such a gesture is meaningless, as she takes the first tentative steps toward opening herself up to new possibilities.

Powerful moments aren’t lacking in the other characters’ lives, either. In Mayama’s interactions with Rika we glimpse a far more emotional side of him than we’ve ever seen before, and though elements of one particularly poignant scene are rather unfortunately ambiguous, it’s still nothing short of riveting. I’m also growing quite fond of Nomiya, whose carefully crafted demeanor of cool is shattered by the strength of his feelings for Yamada.

All in all, this is an exceedingly strong volume of a series that is just getting better and better as it approaches its conclusion.

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

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