Happy Hustle High (aka: H3 School) Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.95
  • Pages: 188
  • ISBN: 1-59116-912-7
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Happy Hustle High (aka: H3 School) Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     April 06, 2005
Release Date: March 15, 2005

Happy Hustle High (aka: H3 School) Vol.#01
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Takada Rie
Translated by:June Honma
Adapted by:

What They Say
Hanabi Ozora is a rambunctious 16-year-old tomboy who comes to the rescue of her less assertive friends - sometimes in exchange for food. So what does she do when, all of a sudden, her all-girls' school is integrated with an all-boys' school!?

She meets and falls in love - naturally - with one of the three most popular boys in the Student Council, Yasuaki Garaku! Unfortunately, Yasuaki doesn't care for girls... but when the girls' Student Council clashes head-on with the boys' Student Council, Hanabi steps in to become a member - hoping she'll change Yasuaki's mind!

The Review
After checking out the presentation for Baron, which I read at the same time as Happy Hustle High, I was let down a bit by the presnetation of this title. Originally titled "H3 School," Viz tries to work the high school concept by changing the title slightly and using varsity font for the title. The logo runs vertically on a plaid background, to the left of a blown up image of the lead character, Ozora Hanabi in her school uniform. The opposite cover has the same image in its original size next to a long volume description.

Inside, Viz's printing looks really good. This is a tough title to judge that on for Takada-sensei does not use much tone in this series, but I can say her thin lines look very strong. Viz included the volume headers for this and included an ad for Doubt! No other extras included.

I have a hard time pinning down Takada’s art. Her character designs are either slick and tight, for males, or blocky and boring, for her females. I get the point as to why, but I really find it funny especially when the main character is so cool. Either way Takada’s line work is pretty nice. The lines are medium thick but very strong and clean. Like I said a few sentences earlier, most of her designs are a little blocky. Faces are very wide and torsos are a little wide especially on the female characters. This is really strange looking, and is a strange contrast when considering how lean and long the males tend to look. Actually the guys, as great as they look, also have jawlines that I found annoying (too big and pointy). I like the eyes an the detailing for lashes and lids. Hairstyles tend to be somewhat important to the plot, for some reason, and they are pretty fun. Costumes, on the other hand, are very boring (but this is a high school comedy).

Takada uses a bit of SD for comic relief. The transitions are not perfect. The main issue being how chunky the gals in the cast already look without it. The male characters do not get SD’d much, but Aido-kun looked great as an SD tennis player.

The backgrounds are okay. They are almost non-existent for most of the manga, but when they are present they look clean. The layout is not very active either. With this manga focusing on expressions and attitude more than mood and pacing so I can understand why it is passive. All in all, very clean fun art.

SFX are all translated and overlaid. It's done rather tastefully so SFX look nice and sound nice. As is the case with most (if not all of) Viz's shôjo titles, Happy Hustle High has a solid translation. Honorifics are used sparringly but they are used to emphasize relationships (which is just how it's used in Japanese). Did not notice any issues with spelling or grammar (typical Viz work.)

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Ozora Hanabi and her classmates were having the time of their lives at their all-girls high school. Without the boys around they needed not to worry about appearances, they were free to be themselves and the only thing that could hold them back was themselves. It really was like heaven, for the friendships made here were bringing these girls closer together with every new year.

The after summer vacation all of that changes. The school administration has made a mid-year change and has decided to merge with a local all-boys school. Shocking as it sounds some of the girls are against it, and we will find out that many of the guys do as well, but Hanabi is willing and eager to welcome her new classmates into the fold. Especially, if that means she can finally find a boyfriend.

Dating is possibly the biggest benefit that will come from this merger. Sure it means an attitude change, but it is much easier to hook up this way and for high school teens anything done easier is a plus. However, those who do not support the merger are set to keep the schools apart one way or another and prohibiting dating would be a powerful message to everyone pro or con.

Hanabi isn't going to stand for that, though. She was always open to the guys joining the school and she isn't going to give up her freedom without a fight. Therefore, she is willing to take on all those who stands in her way. If she needs to change the rules from the top, she can join the student council and bribe, and manipulate to get it done. When she needs to sway votes and hearts, she'll risk her life to prove herself capable. Hanabi is willing to do anything to make her new school a happy hustle high... Just like she would like to do anything to find love.

Happy Hustle High is one of the more entertaining titles I have read in a while. Hanabi as a character is really what is carrying this title. She has a relatively strong personality. Though I was a little down on how much the lead feels awkward about her appearance, she still seemed to know what she wanted, how she could get it and how to tell wrong from right. Her personality reminded me of a young Onizuka Eikichi. Pleasant, funny, energetic, overprotective and unrelenting, Hanabi is a tough foe and everyone's best friend at the same time. Her personality is so invigorating it propells the rest of the manga i nto action. At the same time, I am reminded of Boys over Flowers, because of the mandatory love-triangle-square(?). The handful of elite boys controlling the school and their relationship with the relatively strong-willed female lead has been done, but this cast of guys (as stereotypical as they are), already have more personality, which is a definite plus.

I ended up reviewing this title on a whim; just picking a random shojo title to review. What I got was a fun surprise. Happy Hustle High is not going to win awards or be a best seller, but it is set up to be a very lively romance comedy. I guess that is why I am having a hard time with this, because that market is already pretty packed as is. High school love has been done to death. The only aspect this series has going for it are the bishies and Hanabi. Readers get a lot of both in this volume. If either one were to faltr in the coming volumes this series is dead. That said, the combination of the two created some sports action, some romance and some really great slice of life moments. The latter should be followed up on because it brought out a part of this cast that felt so genuine and easy to relate to Takada-sensei really had me excitd about the next volume.


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