What does it mean to be in love? The troubles of understanding how another person feels, and what your own feelings are; that's what this manga focuses on so far.
The story is about Hananoi, a handsome yet lonely guy falling in love with Hotaru, a rather ordinary but thoughtful girl.
Hotaru always had trouble understanding feelings like love as she never felt that way herself, so after Hananoi confessed to her, they decided to date on "trial" before giving him a definite answer in order for her to figure out how she feels. Hananoi is pretty
much the exact opposite, always giving it his all (or too much, actually) in order to convey his feelings. Needless to say, they make for an interesting couple.
Hananoi has a somewhat mysterious side to him, since it is shown that he only is kind towards Hotaru and nobody else, and it's in some way "suspicious" why he goes to such extents to win her over sometimes.
What I like about this manga so far is that, even though the beginning of their relationship is rather sudden, it takes it's time to slowly but constantly develop further. Especially from the view of Hotaru, exploring what it feels like to fall in love with someone.
Also, it didn't introduce a dozen side characters alongside, most of the side-characters are just "there", but basically all the focus is solely spent on the main couple.
This manga is really, really bugging me. It's written as if it's a typical cute shoujo romance. Nothing special, girl meets boy, they start dating even though Hotaru isn't sure if she likes Hananoi yet.
The problem I have with it is that Hananoi is continually giving me stalker vibes. He literally knows nothing of Hotaru, yet he's immediately so obsessed with her that he'll do anything for her, such as search for her barrette in a snowy field all night. When they're alone, he throws her against the floor and looms over her threateningly, because he's just so into her he can't control himself. He'll
do anything for her, but is mean to her friends because he has no interest in anyone that isn't her. He has a shelf in his room hidden by a curtain that is "Hotaru's spot" that he tells her she needs to be prepared to see. He comes many hours early to any meeting they have, because he's so obsessed he prioritizes anything having to do with Hotaru above anything else. Literally all of this would be red flags for me that would send me running. I keep expecting it to become gender inverted Fatal Attraction, yet at the same time, I get the impression the author thought this was a cute romance with a boy that's "a little bit weird." Shoujo isn't normally like this. I think the author made an extreme error, but I can't help but be puzzled how they could fail to notice how creepy Hananoi is.
The good point to it is the art is really good, but I just can't get over how stalker-y it is. I've read a TON of shoujo, but this is the only one I've read where I've gotten this kind of bad impression. This even includes the ones where the male protagonist is one of those forceful "bad boys." The cognitive dissonance between how it feels like the author thinks it's sweet and harmless and how Hananoi's behavior is actually creepy just makes "Hananoi-kun to Koi no Yamai" even harder to reconcile and accept, versus those with "bad boy" protagonists, you can fully see where the narrative is going, and so you know ultimately nothing seriously bad is going to happen.
I highly suspect given genre tropes that it's going to turn out that Hotaru actually knew Hananoi when they were younger, but she doesn't remember him, and that he liked her even from that time, but Hotaru did not reciprocate. The thing is though, even if that's what happens, it doesn't change the fact that his behavior is obsessive to an unhealthy level. The only thing it really changes is that his obsession didn't come out of nowhere.
It's an 8 for now, but it's a nice story which may or may not progress to a 9 in the future depending on how it goes, since there are only 9 translated chapters so far.
I think this is a series most shoujo or romance fans will enjoy. Whereas in the author's previous work it was more plot focused, this new series is a simpler story with straightforward focus on the main couple, which is good if you just want to enjoy the ride and some sweet romance without getting through too much seriousness.
The main draw of the story so far is in that it's
not trying to be complicated. The couple starts dating right at the start, and it follows them as they go through this journey of discovering love together.
The characters are interesting, good people, not perfect of course - it's quickly evident they are not the best at dealing with people issues - but they're both sensible and considerate and try to make things work.
I must repeat this - the main characters are sensible, considerate, and communicate properly! This is surprisingly rare in a lot of manga, where somehow the feelings just don't get across until the end of the manga, and then it suddenly ends and we're left pretty dissatisfied by the end of it. No, they already start dating here so we're past that horrible stage, and now's the time for a cute couple to get to know each other and give us diabetes and whatnot.
Feelings are dealt with realistically and sensibly in the manga, at least so far. From the way things are going I also do not expect weird inconsistencies nor expect characters to suddenly make questionable decisions that cause readers to wonder if the characters suddenly did a 180 and became ridiculously stupid. I feel that even if issues do come up for our little couple down the road, it will be resolved satisfactorily.
Finally, for a (so far) simple lighthearted story about a young couple learning about each other, it has sufficient exciting moments that shoujo romance lovers will be grateful for. What's more, it's not just BAM! kabedon out of nowhere! or just really out of place/forced things, but properly sweet and natural actions that make it all the better.
Proper romance + heartwarming cuteness + heartracing moments at times, without too much annoying sidetracking (since it focuses mainly on the couple so far) - what more can a romance lover want?