Our heroine is girl named Hina-chan. She is in her 20s. Hina has a handsome boyfriend now, but she will always remember her first love, a boy named Itsuki. When other kids would tease Hina, calling her ugly, Itsuki would defend her, and try to cheer her up and make her feel better. He and some of his family eventually moved away, leaving Hina heartbroken. But the memory of her first love will always make Hina feel nostalgic and happy inside. Itsuki’s grandmother still lives next door to Hina, so she still has a connection to him, somehow.
One day, Hina has a dream of Itsuki, and she is feeling especially nostalgic about him. She is just mentioning her dream to his grandmother, when they are interrupted by the arrival of a stranger. It is a tall, beautiful woman. Wait a minute… it’s Itsuki! Itsuki is not joking, either. He claims that he is really a woman on the inside, and now he is dressing that way on the outside.
And yes, even though Itsuki now lives as a woman, Hina finds herself falling in love all over again, regardless of how Itsuki dresses. But Itsuki sees herself as a woman, and she only loves men. Will Hina end up heartbroken all over again?
When going into Half and Half, what I expected was a story that touched upon the subject of transsexuality, which is something I hardly see manga approach. Sure, there's your occasional manga with a crossdresser in it, however, be them male-to-female or female-to-male, that's a character insertion done mostly just for laughs, that is often borderline offensive and ultimately, doesn't bring the issue of gender identity forward. I also expected, from this manga, a story about how love isn't that much dependent on gender as it is on simply being with the one you like.
Does Half and Half deliver on that? ...Well, I'd say, sadly,
only sort of.
As the manga starts, Itsuki's character is very clearly defined. She presents herself as a woman and dresses as such. She even tells Hina, the main character, that they should "get along as fellow women" after spending all that time apart.
Now riddle me this: How hard is it to establish a character's personality and then go with it until the end? If you're H&H's mangaka and feel the need to pander all the time, then it is VERY hard.
Here, character development not only doesn't seem to happen, it seems to work backwards. All the time, Itsuki shows us how much she strives to be accepted by others as a girl.... only to get all boy-mode and/or typical-shoujo-prince-charming afterwards. It becomes hard to believe her motivation considering all the situations she puts herself in near Hina.
Ah, yes, Hina. Hina is your stereotipical teenage schoolgirl shoujo protagonist, except for the slightly bothersome fact that, although she behaves and thinks as such, she's actually twenty-something. And what a main character this is: I'd say she is like Haruhi and Kyon in Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu, in the sense that Kyon takes the post of main, but Haruhi is the really important character. The problem is, with those two, there's actually a reason for that to be so, for each one complements the other in their strong points.
Hina has no reason to be other than for the audience to identify with, and to be honest, I don't see how this could work, since she only behaves like a little girl when she's actually an adult. But then again, I'm past that age, so I could not say. The fact of the matter is, she's a throwaway character with nothing to contribute to the plot aside from your cliché teenage trouble, which gets in the way of the one character we're supposed to be interested in, Itsuki. Worst of all, from beginning to end, she never gets out of that mindset.
I feel this is the core of Half and Half's faults: Whether or not she puts her love for Itsuki aside, Hina should be the one maturing over the story, and accepting the new identity of her childhood friend. Instead, what happens is the exact opposite: Itsuki is the one who constantly goes against what she makes us believe is her preferred way of life, as Hina just goes on with her childishness forever.
Now, if I am to be fair, there's two things that are rather pleasing about this manga. First being the art, which looks great. Special attention was given to Itsuki's design: she looks more realistic than this kind of character normally would. A nice touch, if you ask me. And there are two chapters (5 and 6) which are *actually* centered on Itsuki. Had the story just focused and elaborated on that from the start, I feel my enjoyment of the manga would have been much, much better.
Alas, it didn't. Half and Half chose a backwards way to develop its own plot. And because of that, what should have been a beautiful story becomes a forgettable, mediocre shoujo with all its potential wasted. Read it if you want to, but don't expect much, if anything.
Half and half is a manga, I stumbled upon while something good to read. At first, it doesn't look much interesting, but It would be wrong, if I decide it by just glancing.
Half and half is Nanami Mao, which centers the topic of homosexuality, in a typical shoujo way.
Hina is a young girl in her 20’s. She lives in the countryside and has had a really bad luck with boys. While she was with her boyfriend, she remembers her childhood memories or to be precise her first crush, Itsuki. Hina is a girl who is not so “girly”, so when she was taunted by
others in the past, Itsuki was always there for her rescue. He promises to marry her, even if she is ugly.
A decade has passed, yet, Hina still has feelings for him. She goes to meet Istuki’s grandmother who is the neighbor and talks about Itsuki. Suddenly, a hot sexy lady interferes their talk- who is this hot woman? Itsuki?
After leaving the country side, Itsuki lives in the town and realizes his trans-sexuality that is- he is Gay. He believes he is a woman from inside and doesn’t shy off in showing it off. Due to his trans-gender problem, he is thrown out of the house, city and so he comes back to the countryside.
Will Hina accept Itsuki’s change? Will her feelings change? Will Itsuki revert back?
The story answers all these answers.
In mangas dealing with such topics, character development is something which needs to be good and acceptable. At first the characters are lovable, but somewhere I feel Hina to be way to kiddish. She is 20 and is still not in track with her “feeling of love”. Itsuki’s decision in the end is still confusing, but then again, it’s a manga, so maybe comparing it to real life is a bit harsh. Further you are introduced to characters who look promising, but sadly are not utilized or simply not given justice
Coming to the art, the manga is well drawn. It resembles the art of manga’s like high school debut or cat street. Itsuki as a woman is really hot, and his transformation look is acceptable in art. He does not transform into a 3rd person with makeup. The set, scenes and country-side look is really nicely done. The fashion is not so ultra modern, so it justifies the fact of being in the country side.
At first, this manga started off really nice. Its different but not original. If you are a shoujo fanatic, you’ll get to see similarities of the plot with mangas like lovely complex and Usotsuki lily. But then again transgender, as a comical romance, now that something new. In fact it hooked me up for an hour straight, but as you go in deep, there are flaws in the story… to pinpoint them, the ending is something which doesn’t convince you. But yet again, it depends on how you take.
Half and Half is a typical shoujo manga outcome plot. It’s not original, but surely can be given a shot by shoujo fans. It’s a good time kill, but if you expect it to be serious about trans-gender topics, you may be a bit disappointed. If you’re in to light manga’s and not serious plots, then you should read this manga.
Status- Completed publishing and scanlating
Review by- Amberlight
Also for the club- Reviews for the unreviewed