Honey Honey Boy - He Is A Sweet TemptationMangaka: Shinjo Mayu
Reviewed on Apr 5, 2011
The story: Rika likes the student body president. So much so that she's willing to get in trouble just so he has to 'punish' her. Not for kiddies.
Now, there are exceptions to this rule (like satire), but generally in romance, you want the main couple to be sympathetic. You want the readers to root for them and wish for the couple to get together. They may or may not be the nicest people, but the two leads are just better together. Of course, sometimes writers fail to give the leads enough chemistry, but it can be forgiven because (let's face it) it's just easier to lay on the cheese and hope the audience doesn't notice. It's when the readers treat the male lead like the villain that you have a big problem.
Shinjo Mayu's Honey Honey Boy has that problem. Despite the title, there is no fluff in this story. Or at least, none of the intended 'sweetness' comes through, if there was any. In fact it goes the other way. It caters to much darker, women's fantasies, and I suppose it was intended that way, since instead of the usual flowery backgrounds we get blood spatters. It's just adorable when mangaka think those are enough to set the ambiance for a dark story. (It's not) And boy have we got a twisted story.
There really isn't much actual romance here. We're informed the heroine likes the guy through the usual internal monologue, but why that is so isn't really stated out right. I assume it's the s*x. In fact, that makes up half the manga. And it's not even consensual. Okay, an argument can be made about how the girl gives her consent, but you could also say there was a mild threat or the existence of authority over the female, and we're not here to argue legalities. The point is that the girl feels bullied, and the guy seems to enjoy causing her pain and confusion.
If I wasn't already aware of who the male lead is in this story, I'd have assumed this guy was a villain, and the male lead will soon come to rescue her from this oppression. That doesn't happen. Instead, the only guy who is nice to her is called out on his "perversion" for just sneaking a kiss from her while she's asleep. And apparently compared to cornering a girl and subjecting her to humiliation, sneaking a kiss is the same (or even worse). I know the kiss can be creepy, but damn this manga's measure of morality is screwed up.
What really throws this in the pit of bad manga is the ending. Through most of the story, we get random blood spatters on the panels (an effect I thought was overused in the manga), and the male lead has a dark, brooding look. And he's a jerk. In the ending the writer expects us to forget all of that and get taken in with the sparkly background and the male lead's puppy dog eyes and embarrassed confession. That ending couldn't be more awkward, heavy-handed, and jarringly different in tone. Not only is it cliche, it also appears like the manga didn't have the guts to go through with having the dark, oppressive male lead and instead changed him at the last minute.
Sitting back and looking at it, it wasn't as bad as I expected. I mean yeah, it was bad, but not as bad to warrant the weeks I spent avoiding it like herpes. It's more like a painful boil: horribly unpleasant, but easy to get rid of. Thank God it was short and forgettable.