Takane & Hana Volume 4
Take the latest, volume 4. Hana and her friends are finishing up a vacation trip with the guys, conveniently summed up by one of the girls on the first page: “Their group was so random! I mean, a Japanese heir, a rich Italian, and a high school kid?” That’s an accurate description: this series can be pretty random.
Hana goes on to explain that being with her allows high-powered businessman Takane to let off steam, while she has fun teasing him. (That reminded me of the rationale behind an S&M relationship, a context I’m not sure we should have here.) She tries to be thoughtful, buying him a souvenir of their trip, but it turns into slapstick, as it gets lost and they trip over each other trying to find it. This series tries to balance humor and heart-felt sentiment, but author Yuki Shiwasu is not very good at mixing the two, and the tonal shifts can be jarring.
The cast, in particular, have been stretched beyond realistic into caricature. In my opinion, although the supporting characters keep pushing her that way, Hana is too young to be contemplating a romance with a guy ten years older, and when we’re supposed to take that option seriously is when I most want to quit reading. I know shojo often has ridiculous characters and events, but underneath, in the best examples, the emotions are still understandable and sympathetic. That’s not the case here for me.
Instead of seeming like romantic teasing, the leads’ insults to each other and exaggerated behavior makes them unpleasant to read about. At other times, Shiwasu resorts to the cliches I’ve seen plenty of times reading other shojo. In this case, it’s the introduction of the secretly interfering but pretending otherwise helper.
Takane gets a new assistant a work, a super-competent young man who looks rather like Takane. That reminds me, I rarely talk about the art in this series because it’s middling. It’s competent and gets the job done but doesn’t stand out in any significant way or do anything special.
Also, Hana has to participate in the school festival maid cafe, which embarrasses her in front of Takane. That’s how I feel, continuing to read this. (The publisher provided a review copy.)