Manga Quick Information
A new volume of Ai Morinaga’s wickedly funny manga is always something to look forward to and this one is no exception. High-school girl Hana has only two main loves in life: sleeping and eating. In the first volume she became an unwilling member of her high school hockey club whose members use the club as an excuse to travel to different places and sample the local food. There may have been the odd hockey match since then (and odd is probably the only word to describe the kind of hockey that this team play) but for the five bishonen members of this unorthodox group, competing in matches comes pretty low down their list of priorities. There have also been hints of a developing relationship between Hana and Izumi, the group’s leader, but this being the work of Morinaga-sensei (who delights in sending up the standard tropes of shojo and BL fiction) nothing ever works out quite as the reader expects.
When Hana starts skipping club meetings, the rest of the group become very curious about her activities. When they discover that she’s taken a part-time job, they’re even more perplexed. It turns out that she’s working for a new patisserie that’s opened up – and part of the deal is that she gets to eat the left-over cakes at the end of the day. Oh, such blissful happiness! Now her thoughts are filled with chocolate pistachio, gateau Saint Honoré, and mont blanc. When Izumi sees the patissier – a very good-looking young man and a megane, too – he is overcome with jealousy. Insensitively blunt as always, he tells Hana, “This is your last day of your job. Starting tomorrow you’re coming to club and doing something about that flab.” Such an underhand blow! So when Tsujiyama-san, the patissier, counters with a charming smile by saying, “It’s cute for girls to be just a little pudgy,” Hana digs her heels in and refuses to leave. But Izumi is not so easily discouraged. All the club will work for Tsujiyama-san, he declares, to Hana’s fury. Cue an affectionate nod to ‘Antique Bakery’…and more mischief on Morinaga-sensei’s part in parodying BL stereotypes. But when Izumi learns that Tsujiyama-san has invited Hana to go to France with him, he determines to beat his rival at making cakes. Can Izumi pull it off? Or is Hana destined to follow her new idol to France?
The other stories in this volume are ‘Out of Love’, another episode about Wacky, the chicken hatched and raised by the group (but to Izumi’s chagrin, attached to Itoigawa) and a final chapter which features exactly the kind of gender confusion that Morinaga-sensei is particularly adept at portraying. Natsuki is (not for the first time) mistaken for a girl …and finds himself becoming friends with a young lady who fears that her looks are not feminine enough to appeal to the boy she fancies.
If you’re already a fan of Bisco Hatori’s ‘Ouran High School Host Club,’ you’ll appreciate this series which, although it might well have begun as an affectionate parody (check out the identical twins Ginta and Kinta) has taken on a vibrant life all of its own.
There’s plenty to be enjoyed in this volume of this consistently enjoyable and amusing series, although anyone looking for any signs of development in Hana and Izumi’s relationship will be a little disappointed.
|Score:||7 out of 10|
|Date Published:||Thu, 19 Feb 2009|