Honey So Sweet Volumes 1-2
As its title suggests, Honey So Sweet is a lightweight confection, an adorable bundle of teen romance between mismatched types that stands out because of the speed of its plot developments. Amu Meguro presents the story of Kogure, a shy girl just starting high school. She’s stunned when a delinquent, Onise, suddenly requests a conversation with her, gives her a bouquet, and asks that they date.
She says yes out of fear, but as their story develops, we learn a lot more about the motivations and emotions of the two. Kogure lives with her uncle, who’s taken care of her since her parents were suddenly killed in an accident. Onise, typical of the genre, has a good heart he’s developed to counter his scary face. He dyes his hair red, but it’s for a silly-yet-inspiring reason (as revealed in volume 2).
She learns to “look past rumors and appearance” to judge the person within. He learns to open up to people. They start as friends but others note how they feel about each other before they notice themselves.
Volume 1 also introduces two other friends, forming a small group for a field trip. Yashiro is pretty but cold, and she learns to open up. Misaki is foul-mouthed and turns people off, needing to know someone wants to be his friend in order to calm down. They’re all outcasts, and Onise is surprisingly observant in bringing them together.
These small moments of happy interaction and recognition are why I enjoyed this series so much. Being long removed from school days, reading about times when the characters’ biggest worry is how to make a new friend is relaxing and charming. And it’s heart-warming to see how these young people care for each other, as Onise tries to prevent Kogure from getting scared during a haunted walk on the field trip. That’s also key to a flashback that reveals some of Kogure’s traumatic past.
The final chapter of the first volume is a wonderful stand-alone story where Onise helps out Kogure’s uncle in the family cafe that sets up a turning point explored more fully in volume 2. Kogure explores different kinds of love, figuring out the difference between what she feels for her uncle, her caretaker, and what she’s beginning to feel for Onise. At the same time, she helps him by tutoring him, and she gets surprisingly good advice from Yashiro.
The characters explore emotions quickly but meaningfully. Thankfully, this series doesn’t drag out the internal monologues about what they feel and worry about and aren’t sure of yet. It’s realistic but crisply paced, which I appreciated. By the end of volume 2, the next challenge has turned to expanding their pool of friends and balancing time spent with the person you’re dating against time spent with other people. (The publisher provided review copies.)