Arranged marriage meetings can be awkward, especially when you’re pretending to be the bride. In Takane & Hana, vol. 1, 16 year-old Hana Nonomura is forced to impersonate her older sister during an awkward marriage meeting arranged by the enthusiastic grandfather of Takane Saibara, a ridiculously wealthy businessman. The meeting ends in disaster and with Hana’s wig in Takane’s face. Intrigued by the young woman’s gall, and wanting to save her father’s job, Takane decides to woo her..
The ensuing storyline is a hilarious war between a headstrong girl and a man who can only be described as a spoiled rich boy. Chapters are broken down by the various dates and excursions that Hana embarks on with Takane, including an outing on a ship, a restaurant, and a second marriage meeting. Throughout it all, they are constantly at odds, although it seems that Hana will not be cowed by Takane’s vast wealth, or his efforts to get her to acknowledge him.
In Takane & Hana, vol. 2, Hana has to reprise the role of her sister while attending an engagement party Takane’s grandfather is hosting.. Determined to fit the part, Hana enlists the help of her sister to look more mature and sophisticated. Even so, the party proves to be a challenge for the high schooler. She’s faced with interacting with Takane’s business partners, as well as fending off the unwanted opinions from other women suspecting Hana might not be who she says she is, and causing a scandal for Takane.
Cutting ties with Takane to protect him proves challenging, as the corporate heir refuses Hana’s excuse of being bored, and reminds her that he’s vowed revenge for being kissed on a whim in the previous volume by the ever-impertinent Hana. Averting the scandal, this odd couple continues on with their outings, going out to see the cherry blossoms as a mysterious new character arrives. Takane’s former friend, Nicola, seems to be concerned with Takane’s well being and strings Hana along for the ride. After staging a reconciliation between Takane and Nicola, the second volume leaves readers on a cliffhanger, as we wait to see what happens between these two former friends.
Takane & Hana’s story line is quite enjoyable, and does a good job of addressing a romance with an age gap between the main characters. Although it is funny that these two are getting along, and sure, the heroine is sixteen, the manga does take a more serious tone addressing this and does so by focusing on their growing friendship, with potential for love.
I think that the more dominant theme here is how their interactions are helping them grow as people. Both Takane and Hana are stubborn, headstrong, and have their own ideas of what they want to accomplish. However, Hana helps Takane break down the walls that he’s put up around himself and helps to bring him out of his gold-and jewel-encrusted shell. In return, Takane helps Hana with her self-esteem, reminding her that despite their differences, he sees her as a worthy opponent and individual, and to not let others bring her down.
The artwork is very much done in the shoujo style; however, it makes fun of itself in the title panels, something that will definitely charm the reader. I like the idea that the mangaka thought to have Takane and Hana making their own commentary on what’s happening, which made reading it more enjoyable. Shiwasu draws a broad range of characters, each with their own looks, personality, and hairstyles. The panels all flow well, and aren’t too cluttered, with some of the more art-heavy pages featuring little notes about the characters in the story. The writing is translated very well, and readers will have no problem understanding what’s going on.
For readers who want to follow a romantic comedy with good character development, Takane & Hana would make an excellent choice. This is an ongoing series, with the next couple of volumes scheduled to release later on this year. The book is rated for the Teen age group, and I would say that the rating fits.
I’ve re-read these two volumes about three times, and this series has turned out to be one of my new favorites. This manga could be added into an established collection or into a collection that is trying to develop a broad range of manga, as this encompasses comedy, slice of life, romance, and potentially a little drama further on in the series.
Takane & Hana, vols. 1-2
by Yuki Shiwasu
vol 1 ISBN: 9781421599007
vol 2 ISBN: 9781421599014
Viz Media, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: Teen 13+