Published by Viz Media on 1996-2004
Genres: Manga, Shoujo
THE PRETTIEST BOY IN SCHOOL...ISN'T A BOY!
Japanese-American track-and-field star Mizuki has gotten herself a transfer to a high school in Japan...but not just any school! To be close to her idol, high jumper Izumi Sano, she's going to an all-guys' high school...and disguising herself as a boy! But as fate would have it, they're more than classmates...they're roommates! Now, Mizuki must keep her secret in the classroom, the locker room, and her own bedroom. And her classmates--and the school nurse--must cope with a new transfer student who may make them question their own orientation...
Hana-Kimi, or its official title Hanazakari no Kimi Tachi e, or its English title For You in Full Bloom, was the first manga of our manga project, and it was a great way to kick-off the project. Hana Kimi is a great manga if you want to test the waters and try it out. It uses the tropes we love, introduces you to the wonderful ridiculousness, and gives you a punch in the feels.
Hana-Kimi tells the story of Ashiya Mizuki who disguises herself as a boy to enroll in an all boys’ school in Japan and that way get closer to her idol, Sano Izumi. Sano is a high jumper, and his form is really inspiring to her. Err. Yeah. That’s about all the reasoning we get for exactly why she disguises herself. It’s not exactly solid reasoning. In the j-drama, which I’ve watched multiple times, they changed this a bit – Sano actually saved Mizuki when she was getting attacked by some thugs and in the process got his ankle cut, which made him quit high jumping. She enrolls to try to get him to jump again. See? Much better. But this is lesson 1 about manga: you kinda need to shut your brain off at some points and just accept the ridiculousness. Especially if you’re going to shoujo manga.
But, obviously, as this is shoujo manga, we’re here for the feels and the romance. Mizuki gets assigned to be Sano’s roommate. He quickly discovers her secret, unbeknownst to her, and protects her. Because Mizuki is so. goddamn. stupid. She exposes herself all too often, it’s almost a wonder that no one else figured it out earlier. Honestly. But Sano, this stoic, heroic, and wholeheartedly kind guy puts up with her and slowly feels himself falling for her. Honestly, so many feels. So many of them. You just root for them from the first page.
Meanwhile there are other shenanigans. The boarding school has cultural festivals and activities that will introduce you to parts of the Japanese culture. But a main selling point of this manga is that it is very LGBT friendly without drifting to being yaoi or yuri manga. Nakatsu, another student at the school, quickly befriends Mizuki, and though he is convinced she is a guy, he feels himself falling for her. He’s confronted with this, because he’s convinced he’s not homosexual, but he has wholeheartedly fallen for her personality. That is definitely charming. However, I didn’t care too much for Nakatsu’s personality. Probably because he was getting in the way of my OTP. *cough* But also because you just start to pity him, because you know what the endgame is, and know he will end up disappointed. *sigh* He’s pretty funny, but I also found him to be trying a bit too hard. I dunno. I’m not a huge fan of that type of character, while others absolutely love him.
The manga itself is a bit too long at its 24 volumes. The beginning is light and fun and charming, but the middle drags for ages. We go through multiple plot arcs that just feel like filler material, keeping you reading because you want the ship to set sail, but not giving you the satisfaction. If the series was still running, I would have given up on it, probably. Imagine waiting weeks between these filler chapters. Ugh, no thank you. But as the series was completed a long time ago, I managed to power through. Though I’ll admit that I did do some skim reading.
The ending was definitely satisfying though. The romance is just so adorable. The secondary characters managed to charm me along the way. (SHOUT OUT TO KAYASHIMA MY LOVE!) There were ridiculous shenanigans and hefty doses of feels. And while some mangas go the route of “now we’re together and so we’re together forever and we’re gonna get married right now and it’s all perfect”, Hana Kimi did not go that way. And that makes me very happy.