Hanami: International Love Story Vol. #02 (Mania.com)

By:Patricia Beard
Review Date: Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Release Date: Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Plus, Sung-Jae Park
Translated by:Taesoon Kang, Derek Kirk Kim, Riko Frohnmayer (Japanese)
Adapted by:

What They Say
Joonho is still in shock after his first kiss - which came from Hanami, not Sae-un! Hanami still believes that Sae-un is just a friend, not a girlfriend, and things are going to get even more tangled if Joonho doesn't get over his guilt and act soon. But first he has to buy a cell phone, because Sae-un is fed up with his poor calling habits, and she makes him promise never to give the number to any other girl.

In order to afford the thing, though, he has to get a job... at a fast-food restaurant... with David Bacon. At least his female coworkers are cute...

Meanwhile, a tough-looking guy with an unhealthy obsession with Hanami arrives from Japan, intent on tracking her down. Joonho and Wongyung may be force

The Review
The second volume of Hanami: International Love Story continues to give us the teenage male's dating fantasies - but with a difference.

Joonho's rapture and indecisiveness about Hanami and her kiss, sets him up in the usual predicament - Sae-un is his girl, but what does Hanami mean by that kiss? On one hand, he's hoping it's just Japanese greeting, but part of him hopes it's otherwise. But he really wants to get closer to Sae-un, the girl on whom he has always had a crush, and to do so agrees with Sae-un that they should exchange cell phone numbers - Joonho will be the only boy to have Sae-un's number and Sae-un will be the only girl with Joonho's number. There's only one problem - Joonho doesn't have a cell phone.

This one small situation, which happens to trigger a large change in Joonho's life, illustrates the cultural differences that occur in this manhwa's take on the harem manga.

Joonho not only does not have a cell phone, almost unthinkable for a modern manga character, he has to ask his father's permission to get one. Korean manhwa very often has parental presence - very strict, conservative parental presence, one that is bound to culture and duty, unlike Japanese manga, where characters either live on their own or have charmed lives without interference. Family inclusion and incursions are a hallmark of the comedic manhwa.

Joonho does get permission to get a phone, but not without a long diatribe from dad (and some sarcasm from granny). However, he has to get a part-time job to pay for it. Joonho's problems are about to get even more complicated when he gets a part time job at the fast food restaurant, Lotteria, where the staff is paid by their looks. (Joonho gets close to the lowest wage.) And, of course, he gets to work with three very lovely girls, who will, of course, cause him grief.

While Hanami doesn't figure prominently in this volume, she does initiate a scenario that I have only seen in manhwa - the attempt to make jokes about bodily functions gone awry. In this case, Hanami has made a cake to celebrate Joonho's new job, but she uses salt instead of sugar and expired whipping cream. ("I have not talent of cooking...") Joonho eats the cake so as not to offend Hanami. What results is a diarrhea joke that joins the vomit joke and the bad breath from rotten teeth joke that I've seen in other manhwa. I laughed, but it was mostly from the surprise rather than any inherent humor. This is part of what makes manhwa different, one wouldn't see this in manga.

Rebellious bodily functions aside, there's a lot of energy to Hanami: International Love Story. The premise may be a bit worn, but the characters are likable, especially Hanami, whom Sung-Jae Park has given some very charming mannerisms. The translators have maintained the "international" identity of the characters through careful use of dialog and accent, as well as the use of romanji and its translation.

Those who think that manhwa is simply a pale imitation of Japanese manga would do well to take a look at Hanami: International Love Story. It's has a charm and outlook that could change your mind about manhwa.

Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Dark Horse
MSRP: 9.95
Pages: 208
ISBN: 1593077389
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Hanami: International Love Story