One of the fun things about these new omnibus editions is being able to go back and revisit some of my favorite series like Hana Kimi. This volume covers books 4-6 of the original manga, and by the end of this volume the love triangle between Mizuki, Sano, and Nakatsu is firmly established. Hana Kimi is a silly series, and the characters go through the typical events in a shojo manga such as school festivals and class trips. But there’s always an elements of humor and the dramatic that make the story enjoyable even when the reader is facing yet another volume of manga focused on school festival hijinks. One of the things that makes this series amusing is the absolutely ridiculous situations and supporting cast. The school festival ends up being a competition between dorms, so Mizuki’s sporty group is pitted against gangs of drama students and menacing karate practitioners. The tension is heightened due to the intense rivalry between the dorm leaders, so all the cultural exhibits and sporting events that take place at the school festival are filled with tension. Of course, this being an all boys school in Japan portrayed in a shoujo manga, there is a cross dressing event where Mizuki’s dorm hosts a cafe and she has to pretend to be a boy pretending to be a girl and almost gets too much attention because her feminine disguise is too good.
Even though Mizuki is in some ways a typical peppy shoujo heroine, it is nice to see that her track and field skills still come in handy. She’s targeted and bullied by other teams who see her as a strong competitor for her dorm, and that ends up bringing her and Sano closer when he starts to worry about what might happen to her. While the school festival took up a bunch of story space, Mizuki also has to deal with a reporter trying to ferret out the reasons behind Sano’s return to track and Nakatsu’s sudden public confession of love.
Hana Kimi is helped a bunch by Nakajo’s very confident art. She’s able to render all the action sequences of high jumping and the menacing dangers of random flowerpots with ease, but she does a great job at making all of her characters visually and emotionally appealing. With such a large cast it is only to be expected that a lot of effort goes into dramatizing the subtle moments between Sano and Mizuki that drive their romance forward, but there’s still plenty to enjoy in seeing Nanba’s facial expressions as he works through being confronted with a romance from his past and struggles with his RA leadership duties.
One thing that might be frustrating is that Hana Kimi is a manga that stretches out the volume count simply by characters not telling each other their feelings. Sano’s acting a bit like Mizuki is his girlfriend, but he doesn’t tell her that he knows her secret. Mizuki is happy to be platonic friends with Sano, because she thinks that’s the best she can hope for. The only person who is ridiculously honest is Nakatsu, and he’s always around to serve as the hyperactive comic relief. But this is a series that I generally reread every two years or so, and even though I’m probably on my third go around with these volumes, I’m still finding Hana Kimi plenty entertaining.