Hanami: International Love Story Vol. #04 (Mania.com)

By:Patricia Beard
Review Date: Thursday, June 26, 2008
Release Date: Monday, March 31, 2008

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:PLUS / Sung-Jae Park
Translated by:Taesoon Kang / Derek Kirk Kim
Adapted by:N/A

What They Say
Hanami has made her decision: she's going back to Japan. The news comes as a shock to all her friends, and Hena is so dismayed at the prospect of losing her best friend that she encourages Joonho to ask Hanami out. Joonho agrees, hoping to keep Hanami in Korea, but now he's in trouble up to his ears. He already has a girlfriend, and his coworker Joori is still pursuing him with take-no-prisoners aggression!

The Review
Joonho's somewhat unconscious duplicity has driven Hanami to return to Japan after the school sports festival. Hanami had asked Joonho to reply as to whether he would go out with her at the end of the sports festival, but Hanami learns at the event that Joonho was dating Sae-Un. Hurt, she makes the decision to return to Japan without telling anyone, even Hena, her best friend in Japan.

Hena will not allow this and is determined to bring Hanami back to Korea. Joonho breaks up with Sae-un with the declaration that he really wants to be with Hanami, and goes to Japan with Hena over school break determined to bring her back. In the obligatory (and very amusing) onsen chapter, Joonho realizes what Hanami had endured as a foreign student. However, Hanami is steadfast and will not return to Korea.

The ending is a surprise in that it seems so be so unmotivated with respect to the relationship. However, it is so touching and heartfelt, two pages of drawings especially bring this out, that the sincerity overcomes any qualms.

Hanami: International Love Story is a charming and funny tale of high school romance with a likable cast. The translation is smart and funny, and is contemporary without being slangy. Of particular note is the way Hanami's less than perfect Korean is rendered. Her Korean is halting, yet she is in no way demeaned by the way she speaks.
Readers who would normally eschew harem manga will find in Joonho a personable young man whose predicament is depicted with honesty and, while amusing, isn't played for broad or cheap laughs. Readers new to manwha or familiar with the genre will find a lot that is familiar yet different, and the difference is very entertaining.

Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Dark Horse
MSRP: 9.95
Pages: 160
ISBN: 978-1-59307-740-2
Size: B6
Orientation: Left to Right
Series: Hanami: International Love Story