I really enjoyed reading this post/discussion about the various Shojo Beat titles and which ones these three ladies liked, didn’t like, etc. Like Anna, Lori, and Laura, I’ve read a lot of the titles in the imprint — some of them becoming my favorites, and some of them relegated to the “sell” or “thank goodness I only borrowed that from the library” pile.
Of the various SB releases, I had great expectations for Honey Hunt. Judge me all you want, but I unironically enjoyed Hot Gimmick and don’t think of it as the “Manga of Feminist Shame,” as some manga bloggers fondly refer to it. Yes, it’s a terrible work of fiction. Yes, the main love interest is emotionally and physically abusive. Yes, the heroine has the willpower of a dishrag. I admit that I will be one of those apologists who will have to insist that Hot Gimmick is a work of fiction; that’s it’s no better or worse than any midday US soap opera, or Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey. Maybe, as human females, there’s a small part of the brain that responds to badfic as entertainment, is that so bad?
In Honey Hunt, Aihara has managed to write a story where I found myself not caring about any of the characters. With Hot Gimmick, I still cared about whom Hatsumi ended up with, not so with Yura. All of Yura’s choices seemed equally awful to me, especially since none of them were really concerned about her as a person, but what she represented and what she could do for them.
I think that’s why I was disappointed in Honey Hunt — unlike Hot Gimmick, I actually had expectations for it. Yura seemed, on paper, to be an improvement on Hatsumi. Yura was a rebel! She wanted to leave the shadow of her parents’ fame and strike out on her own. She wasn’t pretty, but she had the makings of a good actress! She was going to prove to her mother that she could become famous too!
If only that’s what the story concentrated on. Alas. But this is an Aihara work, so of course the romance is the focus, which isn’t terrible per se, but it’s just so sad when the plot seemed to be going somewhere interesting and had to be waylaid in the name of an extremely complicated but cliche love triangle/polygon.
Because this is an Aihara work, it isn’t enough that Yura is liked by one boy, or two. Nope, three’s the charm. And why have just one teenage idol in love with this plain Jane when you can also have his twin brother, also a boyband idol btw, infatuated with her as well. Let’s not forget her manager! I mean, you have to include an older brother figure into the mix, right? It was seriously Hot Gimmick all over again. I know most manga creators essentially just retell the same story with variations, but this was silly.
So I’m not really surprised that this work is still on hiatus. Maybe even the artist found that she’d painted herself into a corner with this one and it wasn’t worth continuing. At least she gets points for the effort?
I wonder if her latest work Go-ji kara Ku-ji made (From Five to Nine) will ever appear in English? It’s a josei manga, so it seems that she’s thankfully moving away from her high school protagonists and focusing on characters that are a bit older. But Viz seems to be shying away from licensing series with mature content, or at least sexual content, so maybe wishing for this series in English will remain another pipe dream.