Honey and Clover Manga Volume 1

Honey and Clover, Vol. 1

Summary: 4th-year art college student Mayama and 2nd-year student Takemoto as well as other guys live in an old converted apartment building that they use as a dorm. Also with them is Morita, who’s a 6th-year student who disappears for days and weeks at a time, only to return dead tired and with a massive mound of cash. Into their world enters Hagu-chan, a tiny first-year student who does not look her 18-years. Rounding out this group of friends is Yamada (Ayumi), who’s also a 4th-year student at the same art college.

Ayumi is in love with Mayama, who only considers her a friend. Mayama is in love with his boss Rika-san, who’s husband had passed away some years earlier. Takemoto falls in love with Hagu-chan, as does Morita when he meets her. While Takemoto is more conservative in his approach to Hagu-chan (thus, the two become friends), Morita is manic with her, doing all sorts of crazy things that has her on edge.

The first volume covers some of the crazy antics of this group of friends as well as their own dealings with their unrequited love interests.

Thoughts: I’d long wished to read this manga because (1) I really enjoyed both anime TV series and the OVA series, (2) I really enjoyed the live-action movie, and (3) I am enjoying the live-action TV series. Since the manga is original source material for all of the above adaptations, its only natural to want to read it. However, with Viz being the licensor of the manga, I figured I’d have to wait until I was fluent enough in Japanese to import the original manga as I have been boycotting Viz due to the craptacular job they do on their manga and anime titles. However, when a reviewer mentioned that the honorifics had been retained for this manga, I had to take a risk and check it out.

For starters, it is true that Japanese honorifics are used heavily in the English adaptation. That is a good thing for me. As those who know me know, I am a strong proponent of retaining Japanese honorifics in English adaptations of manga, Japanese novels, and subtitled anime. However, English translator/adapter Akemi Wegmuller did a very, very naughty thing. He began substituting some honorifics for other honorifics.

For example, Mayama and Takemoto often refer to Morita as “Morita-senpai,” and indeed this is shown throughout the manga. However, there are occasions where they shift to “Morita-san.” This may not seem like much, but the shifting from a more submissive “senpai” to the general “san” is used for impact. For example, there’s a moment on page 19 where Mayama is not happy with what Morita is doing and yells out “Morita-san” in the original Japanese. Unfortunately, the official English adaptation has Mayama yell out “Morita-senpai.” I guess Akemi must have felt that since they’d been calling him “Morita-senpai” before, they should keep doing so but that’s NOT what Umino-sensei had her characters say.

There are lots of incidents like this. In cases where “Morita-san” is used (whether by his kohai or others), the “san” somehow gets lost and that’s not right. Yet, Rika is addressed as “Rika-san,” which is right. Further, Morita will shift between addressing Takemoto as “Takemoto-kun” and “Takemoto,” but the official adaptation seems to drop all “Takemoto-kun” references from Morita. Rika-san does address Mayama as “Mayama-kun” though, so its not as if “kun” were completely lost. Hanamoto-sensei is sometimes addressed as such (or “sensei”), but sometimes he’s “Mr. Hanamoto,” or even “Professor.”

So ultimately, what I’m hoping is that this was just a rough first volume and that subsequent volumes will use the CORRECT honorifics and not change or drop them at times.

Viz follows Del Rey’s lead and has some translator notes, which they’ve called a “Study Guide.” they have two columns of notes for the two pages, which is fine, but after you’ve read an entire manga volume doing the right side first, then the left, Viz’s decision to print the notes in traditional English fashion is a bit jarring, because by now, you instinctively look to the right column to start reading, not the left. The translation notes are good, but the delivery is distracting based on how manga is published

As to the story, I remembered a lot of this from the anime, though the Lohmeyer-senpai story was in the OVA whereas it was an early chapter in this initial volume. I found that interesting. It looks like the anime was pretty faithful to the manga, which considering how many total episodes there were between the 2 TV series and the 2 OVA episodes, that’s not too surprising. It is interesting to see how much had to be removed from the live-action TV series though, which again isn’t surprising seeing how they only have 11-episodes to work with.

The artwork is a bit rough. Not that it is bad, but after being used to the cleaner style of the anime, this first volume shows how the artwork originated. I hear Umino-sensei gets better over time, which is not surprising since most artist improve with time.

Assuming Viz fixes those honorific problems, I’ll be back for volume 2.

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