Review: Hana to Akuma
I swear, I’ve read this manga in an excess of three times, I love it, I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve cried while reading it, and I want to talk about it RIGHT NOW!
Here’s a look at Hana to Akuma!
Summary: Fifteen years ago, 200 year-old demon Vivi found an abandoned human girl on a snowy night, and on a whim, decided to take her in, naming her “Hana”. As she grows up, she starts to give flowers to Vivi, even though they immediately whither when they are touched by a demon. As Hana gets older, Vivi starts to ponder the potential of their future together, as Hana is clearly mortal, while Vivi is not. Is a relationship between demons and humans really possible?
I seem to get better at this writing summaries business every time I try. Or maybe it’s just because I love, love LOVE this manga to no end.
But first, there’s something I need to address.
People who read that summary who are slightly concerned about the age difference: Vivi is NOT a pedophile. He loves Hana genuinely, but isn’t SEXUALLY attracted to her until she grows up. There. I said it. Now let’s move along!
There are a variety of reasons why I love this manga. I just love the characters and the writing. It’s amusing and sad in equal parts, and the changes in mood aren’t jarring at all. The plot, while not an uncommon premise, works well, and I like the direction Oto-sensei took with Hana to Akuma quite a bit.
Vivi does, at first, seem like a typical aloof shoujo hero. And he is, to a certain extent. Despite this, Vivi comes across to me as someone who isn’t very socially adept, which is something that isn’t so uncommon in the real world. But what I love is at the end of the manga, he still retains that same personality, but it doesn’t feel forced at all – it just seems completely natural. Yes, Hana’s presence in his life did change him as a person, but it didn’t change the core of his personality. Also, his aloofness combined with shows of kindness and compassion do seem genuine to me, rather than just an attempt by the author to make the hero seem likeable.
I really like Hana a lot. Hana’s childishness works because she is exactly that – a child. There are other shoujo heroines that act in a similar manner while being in high school, but because of Hana’s age, her mannerisms don’t seem forced at all. Also, I really like the emotional maturity she develops in the second half of the manga, and I cried genuinely in the last ten chapters during those plot developments. By the way, Hana as a child is one of the cutest kids I have ever seen (=^_^=). I can’t believe Vivi makes angry faces at her when she smiles – it’s unfathomable!
I don’t really know how to feel about Velten (or Felten, if you prefer). His motivations, while they seem perfectly sound and valid, kind of pissed me off. Saying that he’s a playboy because his dad was is, well, not uncommon in shoujo manga, but it’s not a quality I particularly enjoy. That being said, I thought Velten’s interactions with Hana and Vivi were really amusing. Also, I really sympathized with Eleanor, since she really does have a rough time of it. I also found Eleanor really likeable as a character – although she does have that violent streak that a lot of manga characters have, Velten really does deserve it. LOL.
Other than that, I really liked the whole ensemble, apart from Klaus, who I thought was kind of pointless.
One thing I have to ask though – where and when exactly does this manga take place? I mean, all of the demons wear western style clothing, while at school, Hana and her schoolmates are wearing Japanese-style clothing. The hakama is used as a student uniform, and it’s also mentioned that schooling girls was uncommon until a little bit before the time Hana started school, so it probably points to the manga taking place in the later part of the Edo period or the Meiji period. This is just my guess though.
Also, there are Japanese festivals as well (Hatsumoude, summer festivals, etc.) Now, this would all point to this taking place in Japan, except that Vivi lives in a giant WESTERN style castle that no one seems to think is out of place. Weird? I think so.
On another note, the ending of this manga deserves its own mention.
I. LOVED. THE ENDING. SO VERY MUCH. It was great. It tied up all of the knots. And after reading it three separate times, I still cry a little when I see that last panel. I really don’t want to give it away, so all I will say is that it is something, if you are a shoujo fan, THAT YOU NEED TO READ.
The art is really good. There are times where I think it sometimes lacks polish, but overall the quality is really good. The clothing as drawn by Oto-sensei is excellent and pretty, combining western and Japanese styles of clothing seamlessly. Might I add that Oto-sensei is really good at drawing children? The child versions of Vivi, Hana, Felten and Eleanor are ADORABLE! 😀
Overall, I strongly enjoyed this manga, and think that it’s a must for any shoujo fan. Got a copy of Hana Kimi? Put that down AND READ THIS INSTEAD. IT’S BETTER.