Manga Review – Honey Blood

Honey Blood Volume 1

Honey Blood
蜜味ブラッド(Mitsu Aji Blood)
MITSUKI Miko
Shoujo – Romance, drama, supernatural, mystery
3 Volumes (complete)
Viz Media

Summary:

High school girl Hinata’s new neighbor is the author of a popular vampire novel. The kimono-wearing Junya seems to take an interest in her, but what is even more shocking is that Junya and the vampire in his stories seem to have striking similarities…

Review:

I’m not a big fan of vampire stories. They are becoming way overdone, and most are so overly dramatic. Even so, I still buy the occasional vampire manga, and Honey Blood is pretty good.

This series started as a set of continuing one-shots. These chapters are released in the manga Honey Blood: Tale 0. The author then rebooted the story as a serial but ended after two volumes. Both plots are basically the same: Hinata’s new neighbor is a vampire novelist. However, there are differences; in the one-shots, for example, she’s his fan but not in the serialized version. The romance is also more drawn out in the main series and has more drama. Readers do not need to read Tale 0 or the main series (or visa versa) in order to understand the other. Tale 0, as the first iteration of the series, is by far the weakest of the volumes.

The author manages to make her vampires different from other media’s portrayal of them, such as the rules for drinking blood. Honey Blood doesn’t include any type of clan politics or secret societies. However, the ending is rather rushed, as it was canceled. I was left with unanswered questions, and the much teased first night never happened. I wish the serialized version could have gone on for a couple more volumes so the mystery wasn’t revealed so quickly and let the relationship develop a little more. Readers who love open-ended stories can have fun imagining how the characters continued their lives. Despite its short length, the shortness actually helps the series in some aspects. The story centers around the main couple and not random characters. The love triangle aspect is relatively downplayed, and no new character is introduced just to keep filling the slot. Within its limitations, author packs quite a bit of romance, mystery, and the supernatural into two volumes. I’ve read longer series which did less.

As for the leads, Hinata is a pragmatist in the series but is more immature in Tale 0. She is a young girl going through her first love, but at least she has a brain and tries to make sense of the events happening around her. Junya is more forward in the oneshots, but he is a flirtatious mysterious writer in both. He is, fortunately, not an alpha male type that is so often found in these types of stories. Age gap romances are relatively rare in English, but it doesn’t play a huge part in the story outside of Junya’s old-fashioned manner.

The art in Tale 0 is inferior as it came first. Eyes are much bigger and characters look younger. (This is even acknowledged in the author’s notes.) overall, the art is rather atypical for shoujo: while most shoujo are full of light and brightness, Honey Blood is pretty heavy on darker colored art with lots of shading, greytones, and blackspace. Mitsuki sometimes slips into her older style. Hinata is supposed to be short yet she doesn’t look like it sometimes. Art-wise, this isn’t a series I would describe as cheery, but it fits the more serious tone. And despite its downsides, at least it is not cookie-cutter.

Translation:

“Sensei” and “san” are used, but not “chan”. The adaptation does a fairly good job of making Junya’s speaking style different from most modern language. It’s so hard since English just doesn’t have different versions of “I” or “you”. I noticed that the English version makes it seem like Hinata’s family owned the house next door until they sold it, but I didn’t get that sense from the original. Junya also requests Hinata address him by name instead of “Tokinaga-san”, but she only calls him that once in a previous chapter in this version, and the scene shows no evidence he actually heard her! In the Japanese version, she calls him this all the time, including in this conversation. Thus his request make more sense and not a sudden topic change.

Final Comments:

A rather good read. It’s short length both helps and hurts itself. Lovers of age gap stories will definitely want to pick it up to support the genre in English. Vampire manga enthusiasts will enjoy it, and I encourage anyone who likes romance manga to do so as well. Tale 0 is skippable, but if you decide to buy it, read it first. It’s harder to go backwards than forwards.

P.S. Good job, cover designer. It actually looks better than the original since the text isn’t covering Hinata and Junya.

I see the author has released a manga called Mitsu Aji Strawberry. The summary makes me think it is a sequel set years later?

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