Mafuyu Sone was caught petting a girl at school and is sent to live with her brother Takashi in Tokyo. Takashi's hospitality is sorely tested when the other girl, Sae Shirai, also shows up. Sae has been disowned by her parents and has nowhere else to go. Just as Takashi is finally getting used to the situation, feelings cool between Mafuyu and Sae. Decency forces Takashi to act like a big brother for the distraught Sae, but he discovers this means trouble for his own relationship with Mariko Abe.
Volume 11: Frills: Maid no Monogatari (2 parts)
Just finished reading all of Haru yo Koi. I remember first hearing about this manga back when only the first few chapters were scanslated, and fast forward a few years, I finally have the chance to read the whole thing, and I must say, Saki Kaori, though known more for his pornographic comics, really knows how to tell a heartful story.
Haru yo Koi, despite the initial premise, is really about the main character Sone and his various relationships. We see his first real girlfriend, and then his side girlfriend, and we see the end of those relationships. Fast forward and we see another two girls
that Sone will eventually fall in love with and get his heart broken by (or break their hearts). Everything is done in a matter that feels just so real, all of the emotions are those that would surely be experienced by most people at some point in their lives. And that drama is what makes Haru yo Koi so readable. Yes, there's a lot of explicit sex in the story, but it's nothing pornographic and it is a manga for adults after all.
In the end, Sone finally does find a keeper, and though it's not very surprising as to who it is, all I can say is that it works really well and feels quite cathartic. Fans of realistic depictions of romance (not idealistic versions that you find in shoujo comics) will definately enjoy this work.
A dramatic seinen manga about the twists and turns of an emotionally immature college student's love life that isn't quite as good as the sum of its parts.
For most of the manga, the focus is on four main characters:
- Takashi: The aforementioned student, who is living alone until the start of the story, until his sister (and his sister's female lover) move in with him.
- Mafuyu: Takashi's sister, a high school student experimenting with sex and love for the first time.
- Sae: Mafuyu's bisexual girlfriend, who has dropped out of high school and is chasing her lover.
- Mariko: A girl with a crush on
Takashi who is about to make her move on him.
Then over the last third of the manga, it evolves to focusing mostly on Takashi and his troubles--although none of the other characters are completely dropped, they fade a bit into the background.
Most of the manga is about infidelity and maturity. I appreciated that the characters make choices about love, and aren't simply blown around by their feelings. They choose to get close to people (often when they shouldn't), and then choose who they want to be with (sometimes wisely, sometimes not so much). And over the course of the manga, you can see Takashi's choices improving.
I also liked the artwork. The characters and backgrounds are well drawn and consistent. There is a LOT of sex, but the sex usually is drawn in ways that tell you something about the two people having sex, and isn't only there for titillation.
I did have two problems with the manga, however. First, I didn't find the actions of the characters always very believable--particularly the girls. Sometimes it felt like they were acting in some way because that's how the plot needed them to act in order to prolong the melodrama, and didn't feel natural or seem like it flowed out of that character's personality.
In part as a result of this, the middle third of the manga dragged. One storyline in particular had a very predictable outcome, and yet the author drug it out for almost two volumes. That section of the manga was, frankly, a bit hard to read; twice I almost dropped it.
Finally, the ending of the manga was fine, but felt very rushed--especially compared to how methodical the rest of the story had been. I liked the ending, in terms of the pairings happened that I wanted to happen... but at least one of them felt poorly developed.
The end result is that Haru yo, Koi is a pretty good manga that could have (should have?) been much better than it is. It's certainly a solid Seinen Romantic Drama, and if you like that genre then you should certainly read this one. But I felt like it had the opportunity to become a truly great romance... it just couldn't quite pull it off.
Despite the somewhat lighthearted tone, I consider this work a serious coming-of-age seinen romance manga, particularly exploring adolescent sexuality.
With these premises, you shouldn't be reading it as a romantic romance drama, but a story focusing on the troubles coming along with sex and love, and how do people grow with these problems.
The plot revolves around several adolescents who are not so experienced with love and sex encounter various situations relating to these themes. They are frequently stumbled by the difficulties caused by their immaturity; in the end, although they are heavily scarred, they learn from the pain and step towards the happy future.
My problem with
it, is that I feel the ending is a bit rushed; the main heroine deserves more plot.
First off - anyone reading this that is expecting it to be a yuri-centric manga, drop those expectations right now. The story clearly focuses on Takashi and his relationships with various women, including the main heroine Sae. Sae herself is obviously bisexual and her meeting with Takashi was through her relationship with Takashi's sister who is an experimenting lesbian. Other than that tenuous link and a few panels of ecchi drawings, the story does not focus on characters sexual orientations at all.
That being said, this manga is pretty good. The art is nice and clear, with panels easy to follow and without overblown tones
everywhere making it hard to read or look at. The character designs are appealing, but sometimes it's difficult to differentiate some of the cast from background characters. On the down side, while the plot is pretty decent, the main protagonist Takashi is really a reprehensible fellow. He spends the first half of the manga being a philandering selfish jerk and his behavior will clearly infuriate you since it's clear that both Sae and Mariko care deeply for him.
On the whole I say this is an above average seinen romance manga, I struggle to give it more praise than that. For some reason the emotional scenes didn't resonate with me that much and I would say that if you're looking for an adult romance manga, you'd probably be better off reading something like Hetakoi instead.