Haru Hana The Complete Collection By Yuana Kazumi
Hana has just moved to Tokyo from Osaka to live with her sister. Her parents are in Europe for work. Hana has an unfortunate condition, whenever a boy touches her she breaks out in hives and can only be cured by drinking green tea. Hana’s sister announces that Hana has an after school job, she has been sold to the relaxation room downstairs to work as a cleaner. Hana meets her fellow workers the benevolent gay pastry chef Shinnosuke and teenage masseur Haru. Haru is haunted by memory loss, and he and Hana instantly develop an antagonistic relationship when she starts breaking out in hives if he even if he touches her lightly. While Hana starts out as a cleaner, one day she takes out her violin in order to add music to the food/massage/aromatherapy experience. Shinnosuke promptly decides to take advantage of this new development and name the relaxation room “Haru Hana”.
Some of the plot elements in this manga were a little too cliched for my taste. While I can enjoy shoujo cliches very much if the manga-ka combines them with great character development or unexpected plot twists, there just wasn’t enough of a spark to the narrative to make me enjoy the secrets of Haru’s past or the repetitive nature of Hana’s unfortunate condition. I had a hard time remembering who a couple of the supporting cast were just because they were used so seldom in the main storylines. This was balanced a little bit by the central theme of healing that is explored in the book. Haru’s empathy causes him to experience the stress that customers bring to the shop, but he continues to use his magic hands to make everybody feel better. The workers at Haru Hana really do want to change their customers’ lives, and it is cute to see the trio leap into action with their different specialties to add to the relaxation experience. I did like Kazumi’s art, particularly Hana’s character design. She has short blond tendrils of hair launching off in all directions, giving her the look of an extremely hyper dandelion. While I wasn’t fully drawn in by the plot, I kept reading because I wanted to see the expressions on Hana’s face as she reacted to her developing relationship with Haru.
This is a large omnibus, with three books packaged in one phone book-like volume. I do like this format, and I enjoyed being able to sit down and read through an entire series in a couple days. Some of the darker tones in the art appeared a little grainy, so I wished the quality of the reproduction was a little better. While this series wasn’t a total hit with me, I’ll be on the lookout for more of Kazumi’s work if it is translated. I thought the art had promise, and if the plot of Haru Hana had a little more depth or innovation the potential existed for a much more appealing manga.
Review copy provided by the publisher.