Takane & Hana, Volumes 11 and 12 by Yuki Shiwasu
Sometimes my interest tends to wane a bit at more long-running comedic series, but Takane and Hana is still going strong, even when some of the plot points tend to get repetitive. The main way this manga manages to actually get me rooting for a romance between an emotionally stunted businessman and a high school girl is the way it deliberately shies away from things progressing very far physically. As the 11th volume opens Takane and Hana are dealing with the emotional fallout from when Takane got carried away….and kissed Hana on the nose. The over-the-top angst combined with Shiwasu’s dynamic rendering of psychological turmoil makes the opening chapter extremely amusing. Things aren’t kept light for long, as Takane’s evil cousin Yakumo figures out the relationship between Takane and Hana and decides to kidnap her. I’m trying to remember if this is the second or third kidnapping in this series, but it does provide the opportunity for some impressive, action-movie heroics as Takane and Okamon attempt to rescue Hana.
Volume 12 features my favorite cover so for this series, Takane’s twisted grin combined with heart hands captures the wacky appeal of this manga. Takane is recuperating from his dramatic rescue attempt, and Hana is determined to put more distance between them again because she doesn’t want their relationship to cause issues for Takane. This is circling back to a reset of their previous relationship dynamic, where Takane is bombarding Hana with an endless stream of unsuitable gifts and she’s growing more and more frustrated. Okamon ends up enlisting himself as Hana’s beard as he prevents Takane from grabbing Hana and carrying her out of a diner by proclaiming that he and Hana just recently started going out.
Takane ends up getting relationship advice from Nicola on a speedboat, and his attempts to rehearse speaking to Hana as well as “chill out” feature the emotional anguish and hilariously tortured facial expressions that Shiwasu is so excellent at portraying. These two volumes continue doing what Takane & Hana does so well – set up over the top comedic situations combined with a core relationship that is actually very sweet.