by Miki Aihara; adapted by Liz Forbes
published by Viz; $8.99 US
Oh, Miki Aihara, do I dare trust you again? Hot Gimmick started with such promise — and then ended with crashing disappointment. Tokyo Boys & Girls, an earlier project, didn’t even end. Now, Honey Hunt features yet another young woman put under pressure by circumstances beyond her control. Will Yura break the pattern of Aihara’s heroines and become more than a dishrag? Will she actually learn to make her own decisions and stand on her own?
Yura’s parents are a world-famous musician and a beautiful actress who give the impression of being the perfect family. The world doesn’t know that most of the time, she’s left alone. She’s a normal girl, of average looks, who can’t sing and can’t speak in public, so she’s already used to being dismissed as not worth her parents. Then she finds out that their marriage is a sham, they’ve been cheating on each other for years, and they’re finally getting divorced.
Mom treats her as a housekeeper and then boots her out on her own with no warning. Yura had been dreaming of when she could go to college and ditch her parents, but as she cries, she thinks, “They dumped me first.” Even worse, her only friend Shin betrays her. He’s her neighbor and tutor and the only person she can talk to about her concerns. She had a crush on him because he treated her as a person instead of an accessory or a gateway to fame, until she found out the real reason he came over so often. And that’s just the first chapter!
One thing that did make it easy to get sucked into this series was Aihara’s art. It’s lovely, conveying every emotion with skill with characters it’s a pleasure to watch, even when you hate them. Yura’s mother is a gorgeous bitch, almost gloating in the way she drops simple facts that ruin Yura’s life. “I can’t help that Shin likes me better than you.” “Your dad’s having a baby with that girl, so he may not have time for you.” No wonder she’s a successful actress; she cares for no one but herself.
Yura makes a stab at taking control by telling them off on national TV, thanks to the paparazzi surrounding her due to the scandal. Her father’s manager then tries to recruit her as an actress, and she’s hit on by a musician, Q-ta, who’s connected to her in several ways: he did the song for her mother’s hit TV show, and he admires her father’s work to a scary degree.
This is teen drama of the best, soapiest kind. What adolescent hasn’t dreamed of getting back at their parents at the same time they fear being on their own? And the idea of getting revenge through circles of famous creative people is a classic fantasy. Yura’s dream of becoming an actress solely to show up her mother is both psychologically real, under all the exaggerated trappings, and attractively glamorous. Her struggles are fun to read about in the classic shojo mold.
With four volumes out in Japan and the series still continuing, I worry that at some point, I’m going to be disappointed. But maybe this is the series that turns things around. In the meantime, this is addictive romantic drama. I can’t wait to read more.
The publisher has made an online preview available. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)