HANAZAKARI NO KIMITACHI E (Hanakimi)by Hisaya Nakajo
– Series complete
– Number of books: 23 + 1 non-tankoubon released extra chapter
– Licensed by Viz
STORY: Shoujo-romance-comedy with gender issues (Why do i keep doing these?!). Mizuki Ashiya is a Japanese American girl who returns to Japan to meet her idol, the famed high-jumper Sano Izumi. She decides that the only way this is going to happen is if she goes to his school…not realizing until too late that he goes to an all-boys school. Mizuki doesn’t care, but when she reaches the school, she discovers that not only is it all male, but Sano is her roommate. Another boy at their dorm building, Nakatsu Shuichi, finds himself strangely attracted to Mizuki…but he knows he’s not gay and it leads into all sorts of silliness. Soon enough, Sano finds out, by accident, that Mizuki is not a boy and he can’t bring himself to reveal that because if he did, that would mean she’d have to leave and he doesn’t want that because he’s grown fond of her. Yet he can’t let HER know because then she’ll think he’s gay…which is not unusual considering it’s a boys’s school and all. So this pair goes on through numerous situations that encompass 23 volumes. It’s quite a run. Due to the nature of the story’s main location, there are a lot of near-yaoi scenes, but so long as you know who’s really what…it’s all perky. The confusion between a lot of the characters adds to the humour so much (Nakatsu and his constant outbursts of ” I’M NOT GAY!!!NOO!!” for one is total fun…) that you don’t really notice much of what else is happening and the development of Mizuki and Sano’s relationship is so toothachingly sweet that you’ll be forming cavities by book 5. Seriously.
Recommended for above 13. Some scenes may be too mature and confusing for younger minds to comprehend…poor things. It gets a lot more mature as the series progresses and some really heavy issues pop up which might be a little complicated to younger people….
CHARACTERS: the cast list includes FAR more characters than listed but i’m giving you the bare bones right now so live with it.
– Mizuki Ashiya: Well…she’s not your average shoujo heroine. Dizty sometimes and airheaded even more, she possesses this determination that you don’t see in many other shoujo main characters. She’s a fierce fighter but tends to flip out under extreme conditions. You’d wonder how she’d be able to keep her cover in a boys’ school…easy-she pretends that she’s one of those fragile little boys that are more feminine than masculine (KAMUI!). Oh, and of course, there’s also the fact that Sano’s helping her keep her cover…but she doesn’t know that.
– Sano Izumi: Here we have our bishonen…an ass in the beginning who’s embarrassed that his new roommate is such a “girl”, but so sweet and protective when he finds out that he really IS a girl. Aha! suddenly Sano’s just an talented, angsty little boy with a heart of gold. Typical, yes, but Sano’s a good guy who is sensitive to everything from his personal issues (of which he has quite a few) to his showering. It especially irks him when people try to hurt Mizuki. Mizuki eventually wears him down a bit and the guys in the dorm are surprised to see hot-shot Sano showing emotion, but it’s really all for the best. (Reviewer’s Note: Ass or not, I’d love him if he were real…hehehe.)
– Nakatsu Shuichi: A sport-y guy that’s at Ohasa on a soccer scholarship and provides most of idiot boy humour comes from . He adds some variety in his situation of falling for Mizuki not long after she arrives at the school,but he’s positive that he’s not gay…yet he can’t help feeling something peculiar when Mizuki’s around. Nakatsu tends to be a little annoying sometimes and as much as he may remind readers of Tatsuya from Mars, the big difference is that Tatsuya is mature whereas Nakatsu tends to be annoying but a little kid at heart. He has his issues, too, though.
– Umeda Hokuto: Umeda is to Hanakimi what Sanzo is to Saiyuki, except he’s not always in the spotlight. Umeda Hokuto is the school doctor. He’s smart, he’s handsome, he’s got a dirty mind, and to top it all off, he’s gay. Umeda is the first person at Ohasa Gakuen to find out that Mizuki’s a girl when she was injured and placed in the clinic. With a few choice words, however, Mizuki manages to stop him from revealing her secret to the rest of the school and instead, he becomes a guide, albeit a reluctant one. He’s a very at strange guy as is, and Mizuki often seeks him for advice only to barge right in the office and find him in some rather compromising situations. Not what you’d usually find from a doctor. The guy rules…you gotta love him…
– Nanba Minami: The pretty head of dorms. He’s actually Dr.Umeda’s nephew and a well-known womanizer (as Nakatsu puts it “A girl can get pregnant just talking to that guy.”) His mother is the notorious older sister of Dr. Umeda and he (Sensei, that is) hates her. It makes for interesting confrontations, the three of them. This guy’s another one of those “good heart” boys as well and really doesn’t do much other than try to keep order (often futilely) in the dorm building and be the basis of dirty suspicions. He gets some interesting back stories and is a rather neat guy with a good heart that get progressively bish as the story keeps going.
ART:Nakajo’s art is simply gorgeous. It isn’t half as compliacated as CLAMP’s or as beautifully manipulated as Sugisaki’s but it’s damn good. There are some discrepancies in the earlier art with lip size and colours and Sano’s face changes every four drawings, but that was then and this is now and now is wonderful. Her manga, non-coloured art, is standard shoujo with lost of flowers and airbrushing. Yet she has a talent for being a little more expressive with some of her panels than the typical shoujo artist. In the last few books, her art changes again, but it’s such a subtle path towards its final works (It’s like she aged her characters to show the passing of years, but you’re not totally sure.) that it doesn’t make for any sort of bother to the eyes. Nakajo really has a talent for the whole “sexy-bishounen” thing, too, even with the gay guys and the “bad guys”, as demonstrated nicely by Dr. umeda and Mizuki’s older bro (who really isn’t a “bad guy” but he’s an antagonist of ish so that’s his name for now.) and it really pulls people in.
PERSONAL THOUGHTS (SPOILER-IFIC): I originally found this series off a layout I viewed at some now- lost page. The art was too gorgeous to resist though I was deterred a bit by the gigantic title. It was a little odd finding this manga at first, as well, but over the course of a year, it’s become progressively easier as Hanakimi sites are popping up everyday and the popularity is certainly growing. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing considering evil Tokyopop’s comic-guzzling (NOTE: This review was written prior to VIZ’s lisencing of the series), but they’d have a hell of a time trying to get this one past authorities…or not since as humourously and angstily gender-confused as it is, it’s not half as bad as some stuff Dark Horse and, yes, Tokyopop has released. To put it another way, if you’re looking for hentai or even soft-core, this is NOT it. Heck, this thing might even be lighter than Mars. Sure, there’s a bit o’ yaoi here and there, some intentional and some not, but this thing lives off the secret that no one but about 4 people know that Mizuki is doing this. This underline keeps the story going (through 23 bloody books!) and it’s certainly a driving force. Nakajo’s quite genius for being able to toss Mizuki in and out of all these without permanent scarring and lots of love. Sano and Mizuki’s relationship is beautiful, though. Even when it’s in its yaoi-like stages ( with Sano knowing that Mizuki’s a girl and always hugging her and whatnot but Mizuki doesn’t know he knows and…yea…), the two of them are just too ridiculously sweet. I’d wish for a relationship like theirs…
The problem with the series it that it’s not overly brilliant. After a few books, I took a huge long break from it (in part because I was waiting for translations) the way I did with Love Hina and when I returned,but when I finally got back to it, it was as good as ever and better than I had remembered.
VIZ EDITION ADDITION: The pages are edited well with not much, if any at all, cut out. I’m still waiting to see how they’re going to handle some of the heavier scenes, but Viz is generally more tolerant with censorship. The dialogue translations get a little confusing and sometimes, the language is so played around with that pivotal lines suddenly become very bland (i.e. Dr Umeda’s confession – original line:”Because I’m gay.” edited line: “one develops some sensitivity to gender cues…when ones gay”). But overall, it’s not a bad job and here’s to hoping that Viz keeps it up.