by Casey Brienza,

Honey Hunt

GN 1

Honey Hunt GN 1
Her mother is a popular actress, and her father is an award-winning composer. But daughter Yura Onozuka, on the other hand, is an ordinary schoolgirl who just wants to keep out of the spotlight. All this changes, however, after she learns that her parents are getting divorced and catches her mother getting hot and heavy with the guy she thought was her only friend. She allows high-powered talent agent Keiichi Mizorogi to convince her to try to become a star herself. It's time to revenge! Yura is not long in the biz, having landed her first gig as a Noodle Girl, before she meets twin brothers and rival musicians Q-ta and Haruka. Both seem affected strongly by her presence…but are they interested in her, or her celebrity parents?

Honey Hunt”…? With a suggestive title like that, what kind of series could the latest from Miki Aihara be? Well, as it turns out, the manga series that sounds like it's a cheap porno is actually a transparent rip-off of Yoshiki Nakamura's Skip Beat!. With a mopey heroine instead of a magnificently angry one and a cast of pretty boys with potentially bad intentions.

Fortunately, Yura Onozuka, the heroine in question, has a bit more backbone than Hatsumi Narita, the heroine of Aihara's previous series, Hot Gimmick. As the first volume begins, all she wants in the world is to graduate from high school, move out of the house for college, and leave her family's celebrity ups and downs behind for good. Maybe distance would have made the heart grow fonder, but Yura cannot wait to get as far away from her parents as possible. However, learning out of nowhere that they are getting a divorce, that her father has a girlfriend in New York that is going to bear him a child, and that her mother is secretly having an affair with Yura's best friend…well, that is more than enough to push Yura straight over the edge.

Of course, Aihara is the undisputed master at creating characters of monstrously reprehensible proportions—World's Worst Parents are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg of Aihara-style Titanic-sinkers—and you will find yourself feeling most sympathetic to Yura's plight. Even though the narrative ploy that drives her into showbiz, desire to get back at her mother by becoming a better actress, feels like a particularly silly, domestic psychodrama rationale, you cannot help but root for the otherwise ordinary, good-hearted Yura.

The rest of volume one takes Yura through her recruitment with Mizorogi's talent agency Meteorite and her first, fumbling attempts to get her feet wet in the industry. Needless to say, the story does not tease, and she has an improbably big break with an udon noodle company's noodle promotion campaigns within the first two hundred pages. You will not be in the least bit convinced by her success, but you will be pleased to see the manga getting on with things already.

Unlike Skip Beat!, that is much more about the business of celebrity in early volumes than it is about burgeoning relationships between man and woman, Honey Hunt is clearly all about the perverse love triangles. The two potential romantic partners for Yura in question are twin brothers Q-ta and Haruka. The former seems easygoing and eager to please, and when he finds out Yura's father is a famous composer, he proposes to her on the spot in order to become the man's son in law. If you cannot achieve success on your own terms, it is, from Q-ta's point of view, an entirely legitimate exercise to try marrying into it! That probably says a lot about his personality. Haruka, on the other hand, has nothing but contempt for Yura in the beginning; she does not look like she has what it takes in his opinion. But when he meets her in the context of work—all three will be collaborating on the same project, who woulda thunk it?!—he tempers his abrasiveness a bit. For now, neither of them fascinates, but if Aihara is true to form, both brothers will eventually prove to be total creeps.

As always, Aihara's artwork (in its latter-day incarnation) is the primary source of reader pleasure. She has a clean, yet reasonably detailed style of line work that is both easy on the eyes yet not so minimalist that you feel like the artist is trying to cheat you out of a fully-imagined sequential art world. Her character designs are always especially appealing. She draws a good range of facial expressions, from the silly to the sexy. Female fans tend to go especially gah-gah over her male characters, even when their only redeeming personal features are their pretty faces.

Anyway, Honey Hunt is an appealing, diverting romp through the trials and travails of show business and teenage romance…but you would still be better off sticking to Skip Beat! and calling it a day.

Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B+

+ An intense, emotionally-driven showbiz drama featuring pleasing, attractive artwork and handsome characters.
Some plot twists that strain believability and sordid elements to the story that may leave you feeling dirty by association.

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Story & Art: Miki Aihara

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