Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Haru Hana, The Complete Collection

By Yuana Kazumi
Released in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline:  What is better, music or a massage?

Hana has just moved to Tokyo, hoping to overcome her previous experiences with boys and work at being a violinist.  Her problem is that she breaks out in hives whenever she even touches one, but she hopes that things will change.  Haru is a fellow student that soon learns to tease Hana by touching her and causing her to breakout, but he has his own problems that he needs to be distracted from.  He works as massuesse while trying to recover his memories, while Hana is forced to work at the same place to pay off her sister's debt.  Needless to say it is inevitable that these two will team up together, each using their own skill in a relaxation center that is named after them, Haru Hana, as they work to understand and help each other (and the occasional walk in customer).  And of course, become emotionally involved.

Haru Hana falls into this weird territory between plot driven manga and slice of life ones.  The volume's stories are meandering but have some purpose, but not enough to say that they are moving towards something.  It is only until the final third of the volume, when the creator probably realized that some sort of conclusion was needed that Haru's amnesia subplot is resolved with various aspects skimmed over to do so.  Even the romance between Haru and Hana remains sketchy, but despite it the reader is left with vivid impressions of the series.  The character art helps, being very evocative so that after most of the storylines have been forgotten there remains a very strong image of Haru and Hana working and playing in the shop.  It is that ability to create a lingering image and set of emotions that makes this series worthwhile.

Haru Hana, The Complete Collection is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Ferdinand

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