So today I’ll be reviewing Hisaya Nakajo’s 23-volume shojo series Hana-Kimi. Hana-Kimi is about Mizuki Ashiya, a Japanese-American teenage girl who admires high-jumper Izumi Sano so much she decides to move to Japan and enroll in Osaka High, a private all-boys school just to be near him! Mizuki must hide her gender from everyone at school, but with Sano as her roommate and another boy named Nakatsu in love with her that ain’t gonna be easy! One thing I appreciate about Hana-Kimi is that instead of dragging out the reveal of Mizuki’s secret, right from the beginning Sano figures it out. However, since she is unaware that Sano knows she’s a girl many hijinks ensue. Umeda, the school’s resident doctor also figures out that Mizuki is a girl (he claims he was able to tell because he’s gay), and immediately becomes Mizuki’s confidante. In addition to watching Mizuki and Sano’s romance unfold, we also get to meet the many quirky guys at the Osaka dorms along the way.
Hana-Kimi is an extremely popular shojo series, but I have to say it’s not one of my favorites. I think it’s a fun read, but it ran a lot longer than it needed to (and that’s saying a lot since I have no problem with longer running series). I think the main reason I felt the series lasted longer than it needed to is because the characters didn’t change much over the course of the series. I found Mizuki and Sano to be textbook shojo protagonists – she’s cheerful but dense while he’s handsome but mysterious – so I didn’t get very attached to either character. If anything, I actually found the side characters in Hana-Kimi to be more interesting. The first character who stood out to me was Nakatsu, Sano’s best friend who falls for Mizuki. His early struggles over his feelings for Mizuki (and more importantly his sexuality) are hilarious, and I love that he decides that he doesn’t care if loving Mizuki makes him gay. However, because Nakatsu’s character development happens so early on in the series, I didn’t pay much attention to him by the time the series ended. Umeda is also a great character because he’s funny and apparently a very cruel lover to his many flings over the course of the series. Nakao is sympathetic because he is in love with Nanba, the school’s resident womanizer and student council member (not to mention Nakao initially holds a grudge against Mizuki for stealing his title as the prettiest boy at Osaka High, an award most guys would probably try to stay away from). And over the course of the series I really came to like Kayashima, Nakatsu’s frank roommate who loves to read everyone’s aura. Not to mention, Yujiro is adorable <3. But even though I enjoyed seeing the Osaka High boys hang out and grow as friends, it’s hard for me to get attached to a series when I don’t particularly love either of its main characters. Read more