By Miki Aihara
Viz, 192 pp.
Rating: Older Teen
Yura Onozuka is a mousy high school student whose father is a famous film score composer and whose mother is a famous actress, leaving Yura in an awkward position at school where the other students expect her to be more of a “celebrity” type. Constantly struggling to hide her loneliness and alienation in order to maintain the “perfect” image of her family as portrayed by the media, Yura’s situation is made worse when her mother announces that she is filing for divorce, revealing to Yura the real lie behind her family’s image. With her father out of the country and her mother preparing to sell their family home, Yura is thrust out into the world on her own with no emotional support or direction. It is only when she discovers that her only friend has been carrying on an affair with her mother that Yura decides to try to “beat” her mother at her own game: acting. Taken under the wing of her father’s manager and fighting her own timid nature, Yura throws herself into the entertainment world, determined to show her mother her true worth.
With its sensational plot and romantic intrigue, Honey Hunt is pure, trashy soap opera of the very best kind. It’s impossible not to get hopelessly sucked in to shy, lonely Yura’s ugly duckling story, especially when she’s got all of the entertainment industry’s sharks circling around her. Her down-to-earth nature makes her the perfect relatable heroine and after just one volume her story is already insanely addictive. Beginning from a moment in one of the early chapters when Yura finally cracks and proclaims to a yard full of reporters the truth about her family and her parents’ treatment of her, resistance is futile.
Of course, Yura’s journey is not the only draw. The story’s supporting characters are well drawn in every sense, and perfectly suited to the petty, shallow world Yura has entered into. Yukari Shiraki, Yura’s beautiful, cold mother, is poised and graceful as she deliberately poisons her daughter’s life with a casual spite that says more about her own insecurities than Yura’s supposed deficiencies. The two characters being set up as Yura’s love interests–a pair of rival twin brothers–are delightfully attractive while displaying their self-centered motives and fatal weaknesses for all to see. Even Yura’s manager, who benevolently welcomes her into his home, is obviously using Yura to advance his own ambitions. Yet running through each of them all is just enough humanity to make their stories compelling enough to keep up with Yura’s.
The volume ends with a cliffhanger revealing that someone is already trying to sabotage Yura’s career, or at least the success of the show she is working on. It’s the kind of soap-opera ending that keeps the reader desperately longing for the next volume. With its tabloid sensibility, attractive art, and absorbing characters, Honey Hunt aims to be the ultimate teenage fantasy and its first volume gets things off to a strong start!
Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at PopCultureShock.