Sunday, August 12, 2018

Hatsu Haru (Hatsu*Haru) volume 1 is exactly what you'd want in a shoujo manga (manga review)

Hatsuharu vol. 1
Well, it's pretty much what I wanted anyway! :) I'm not sure how I stumbled on it, probably a recommendation from Amazon, but Hatsu Haru (styled Hatsu*Haru) volume 1 was just recently published by Yen Press and so I picked it up spontaneously, not knowing anything about it other than the genre. Glad I did, it's a perfect summer read.

According to amazon this is book 1 of 4 in the series and I'm definitely going to get the second one, so stay tuned. As for the story, Kai is your typical, beautiful ladies' man of a high-schooler. Riko was a transfer student when he was younger and they've often been in the same classes. She's popular with the girls as being both cute and confident but she takes out all her aggression on Kai for various stupid things he does. He can't even see her as a girl, she's just someone getting in the way of his flirting with the other girls.

With this setup, you have two options readers: 1) you're eyes are rolling back in your head because it's like "not another one of these stupid setups, it's the same as 1,000 others" or 2) "yay! pretty boy falls for cute but aggressive girl" and you want to read it. Well, I'm in camp # 2 which means, I like stories of pretty people falling in love and blushing a lot. I'm just not that complicated.

Turns out Riko is in love with the student teacher who's been her neighbor for years and who she believes only looks at her like a little sister. Kai falls for Riko when he sees the face she makes looking at the teacher in the distance. He then cares for her when she's sick at home and is smitten. The only question will be how (not if, because this is shoujo, right?) they'll end up together. That's volume 1, a nice and simple start to the series.

The art is great! It's detailed, beautiful, characters are discernible from each other (a problem I have with real faces too, so I'm particularly sensitive to this), brisk but clear action, lots of blushing, nice use of panel layouts, etc...really just very high quality and perfect for the genre. The character designs are winning with Riko being cute, petite, and strong with two ponytails (that hair-style showing some youth and lack of trying too hard) and Kai with his top buttons undone and lose long-ish hair being both sexy and cute (particularly the scene where his friends figure out what's going on and they liken him, with his blushing love, to a what baby deer looks like - so perfectly written I laughed out loud). The student-teacher has the requisite light hair and glasses making him look less attractive than he probably is (I'm sure we'll get a scene with his glasses off, and maybe shirtless at some point too!).

Volume 1 felt somewhat slim at first with only 4 chapters, but they are decently long chapters, so it clocks in at almost 200 pages. I'm not familiar with the mangaka's, Shizuki Fujisawa's, other works, so I had no idea what to expect, but the writing and art were both professional and interesting.

I don't expect this series to be ground-breaking, but I also don't need every series I read to be ground-breaking. Sometimes, you just want another version of the same old thing that made you happy before, and for volume 1, this was exactly it. If you like high-school romance shoujo where the outcome isn't in doubt and it's more about the blushing journey to get there, then this is a great first volume and I'm eager to read the rest of the story. 8/10 "highly recommended"


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