Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Hatsu*Haru volume 8 is sweet and simple (Manga Review)

Shizuki Fujisawa
Hatsu*Haru vol. 8 - 7.5/10

I am still really enjoying Hatsu*Haru (Yen Press) as a series, but there is always the question of whether a series should end when the couple gets together, or whether their time together can be written to be even more interesting and meaningful than the set-up?

We can all think of shows that tanked after the couple got together ("Chuck" anyone?) and shows where the time together was even better ("Kimi Ni Todoke" is a manga that does this really well and "Dharma and Greg" [TV] nailed this by doing the meeting-each-other and the post-marriage relationship at the same time). With vol. 8, we start to see where this series is going to fall on the in-relationship interestingness spectrum (yes, that's a thing).

Volume 8 starts with two chapters focusing on our side couple, Taka and Shimura. To refresh our audience, Taka is Kai's best friend, and Shimura is the head of the newspaper. Shimura and Taka pretended to date to make it clear to Riko that Taka didn't like her so she could focus on Kai's feelings. Volume 8 opens with Shimura telling Taka that it's time to break-up from their fake relationship. This throws Taka for a loop and forces the two of them to do some real thinking about each other. These two chapters are well done, sweet, and open up some background story on Shimura to complement what we learned about Taka in earlier chapters.

The last two chapters have Riko and Kai going on their second formal date. Kai is determined not to over-plan and micromanage this one, like the last one. But his plans (or lack thereof) get thrown out the window when his sister and her husband get sick and he has to bring his baby niece and nephew along on his date. However, this gives Kai a chance to see a new side of Riko as she learns to play with little kids and opens up an avenue for Riko to share some of her past with Kai. It also gives Riko a chance to see another side of Kai and fall further in love with him (he also just keeps being more and more smitten with her - his exclamations of her angelic nature in his head are silly but sweet). The volume ends with a really beautiful moment between them.

The art continues to be top notch with a nice style with a unique way of doing faces, lots of expressiveness, nice lines and screentone use. The whole volume is just a nice, happy, well-done sweet romance shoujo story that keeps our story going along. Unfortunately, it doesn't have much real depth, but that's somewhat in keeping with the light tone of earlier volumes. Basically, it's really pleasant and if that's what you are looking for, you can't do better than this series.

As for the question of whether the series should have ended when they got together, or whether their time together will make for meaningful literature, that's still undecided. Without Kai being totally unhinged by his feelings (like he was before they got together) and without Riko being completely clueless about Kai (like the beginning), there isn't quite the place for as much humor or insight as there was in the beginning (minimal thought it was even then). Yet, it's also nice to read about nice people being nice to each other and just doing their thing. So nothing ground breaking, nothing emotionally revealing, but I'm still enjoying it. Hatsu*Haru volume 8 gets a nice but not exciting 7.5/10.


Please legitimately purchase or borrow manga and anime. Never read scanlations or watch fansubs. Those rob the creators of the income they need to survive and reduce the chance of manga and anime being legitimately released in English.

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