Takane & Hana Volume 3
I enjoyed the first volume and was disappointed by the second. Was Takane & Hana volume 3 more to my taste? No, but I think I have a better handle on the approach author Yuki Shiwasu is taking to extending this series. (I can’t believe it has 10 volumes out in Japan!)
In this volume, the misunderstanding with Takane’s foreign playboy friend Luciano is resolved, and Takane helps Hana study after her grades drop. (Once again, she tells him to stay away because she’s got to work, only for him to ignore her wishes because he knows better.) Then there’s a summer trip to a beach resort, including a tennis match, after Hana nurses Takane through a cold. Bonus chapters have Takane joining Hana’s family for a home-cooked meal and the couple attending a fireworks festival together.
(The tomatoes on the cover seem to represent Luciano’s Italian heritage.)
Shiwasu appears to be running through every schoolgirl shojo cliche, only with older businessman Takane subbed in for the usually aloof cool guy. And we’re supposed to feel as though these two are meant for each other, a true love match, but it’s no longer visible on the page for me. It’s taken for granted, but I haven’t bought into it. Without those emotions, the humor didn’t work for me either, as it felt mean.
The author seems to want to play this off as Hana offering Takane the honesty and down-to-earth reality he doesn’t get elsewhere in his life, but in several scenes, I didn’t feel like she was doing this out of caring. Instead, as when they insult each other before slow dancing together, it reads as teasing or needling. And without true feelings being apparent between them, the creepiness of the ten-year age difference and Hana still being in school is more apparent. I had hoped this was a fresh take on shojo, but I’m seeing too many cliches and too much taken for granted on the part of the audience. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)