I Hate You More Than Anyone 9

December 29, 2010

Banri Hidaka – CMX – 2010 – 13 volumes

Another CMX series that I’m sad to see incomplete. I liked it more and more with every volume, and reading this one only reminded me how much I’d miss the violent love between Kazuha and Senko, or the currently smooth relationship between Kazuha and Maki, or the budding and still adorable relationship between Senko and the elder Honjo.

“I Hate You More Than Anyone” gains another meaning here, as we learn about the past between Maki and Saki. Saki’s mother was a… sad woman, and Maki takes out a lot of his frustrations on his foster family, namely Maki and his mother Karen, but also his father. The whole story behind Maki, Saki, and the woman that Maki fell in love with is all told here, so there are no more secrets.

Does it help make Saki more sympathetic? Not really. He’s still pretty cold-blooded, and the things about his past and childhood, along with the stuff a lot of people say during the flashback, are pretty ridiculous. Also, lots of melodrama. But it was still pretty enjoyable. And perhaps this means we’ll see less of Saki in the future, now that his ugliness in the past isn’t hanging over Maki.

Also, we get more “I Hate You More Than Anyone” when Kazuha relives her earliest impressions of Maki, and Maki reciprocates the hate when he reveals when he first met Kazuha. It’s pretty silly and mostly sentimental, but I loved to hear the retelling.

Then follows the fashion show, which I just didn’t have the heart to get into since I knew we would never see the outcome in volume ten. There are still lots of choice moments, mostly involving Senko and the elder Honjo, both together and separately.

I don’t really have that much else to say. It’s a silly, romantic story with lots of ups and downs, but it somehow feels better reading it here than the somewhat more romantic and sentimental stories (I mean, I like it, but there’s only so much We Were There melodrama one can read). Hidaka has a very fun, character-oriented style, and I loved her exaggerated silliness in the end. I liked this more than V.B. Rose, the other Hidaka series I read, and while I’m sad to see that there won’t be any more of this series, I’m happy that Hidaka’s other series seems to be almost completely translated at this point. I’m going to have to catch myself up!

Banri Hidaka – CMX – 2009 – 13 volumes

My massive CMX binge a month or so ago is a little sad in light of recent events, but here’s the last volume I have in my house that I haven’t covered (aside from a few random volumes of The Devil Does Exist, which I’ll pick up later).  Believe me when I say more is on its way.

I’m also sad that now that I’m well and truly addicted to this series, I’m not going to get to read the rest.  Damn you, DC!

My favorite volumes are when Maki and Kazuha are together, so the impending blow-up that would inevitably come after Maki dumps Kazuha from being rattled by Saki was not something I was looking forward to.  This was a really dark volume, but it also wound up being my favorite so far since it took the bad and wound up turning it into a lot of good, with a lot of Maki backstory as a gift for all the angst.

The angst was pretty epic in the first chapter or so, but I loved that the characters used it as a reason to stand up and clear all the doubt out of the air instead of wallowing in self-pity.  The one thing I did hate about this series was that the characters (especially Kazuha) would just sit on stuff forever and let it fester instead of trying to clear it up.  Kazuha doesn’t mess around in this volume, though.

Also good: Toru Honjo.  He’s really my favorite.  Everything about him.  He has  gift with sly comments, and he can use his powers for both good and evil.  He’s also got that thing going with Senko that grows increasingly more adorable every volume.

Again, I’m a little taken aback that the age difference in relationships bothered me so much in V.B. Rose, but is no problem in this series.  Neither with Maki/Kazuha or Senko/Toru.  While the two girls can be immature, they strike me less as children than Ageha.

Also, I liked that all the drama resulted in good things between Maki and Kazuha, brotherly instincts in the adorable Chizuru, and a punch in the face to Saki, who more than had it coming.  Again, delivered by Toru Honjo.  My hero.

Maki’s backstory is interesting, but made even more so by the fact that his mother and grandmother are very amusing, and also because we pick up right where he reunites with tiny Toru Honjo and Toru Mizushima.  Those two are awesome.  Of course it’s supposed to be the touching story of how Azumi pulled Maki out of his funk and how he fell in love with her, but I’m focusing on the little things.

Anyway.  Volume 9 did come out in March, but apparently I forgot to order it.  That has been fixed… right now.

Banri Hidaka – CMX – 2009 – 13 volumes

The plot with Saki and Maki thickens, and Kazuha is caught in the middle, predictably sympathizing with the creepy Saki and getting mad at Maki for his moodiness.  The fight was a little unfair on Kazuha’s part, but to be fair, it fits with her character.  She obviously values family ties quite a bit, and she did feel bad about it afterwards.

Other goings-on include an excellent scene between Senko and the elder Honjo.  I like everything about that pair, from Senko’s temper getting the better of her after just the sight of Honjo, to Honjo’s unwillingness to do anything but whatever crosses his mind in the moment.  Conversations that go on for any amount of time between the two are pretty hilarious.

There was a new character introduced, along with a future fashion show that all the characters will be involved in.  I’m not all that fired up about it because it gets a little too close to V.B. Rose territory, and it also gives Kazuha and Maki less time to be together.  They were together a few times in this volume, and there was even a very, very romantic scene that got away with the bare minimum of teasing the readers, but it still feels like the main romance is moving a bit too slowly.

Another problem is that the random gag humor with all the violence and the characters going off on tangents is back in full force.  I dislike this part of the series most of all, and was hoing it would move beyond this once it was a few volumes in, but it seems to happen whenever there are scenes at school.  The jokes aren’t funny, and they really break the rhythm of the story.  Unfortunately, the Saki story means there are a lot of scenes at school, so there’s an awful lot of this kind of thing lately.

Infinite bonus points to this series for that daycare teacher showing up randomly during a conversation between Maki and Honjo and offering to ambush Saki in broad daylight, then commenting that Saki is suspicious because he is not the teaching type.

I like the series more and more with every volume, but there were just more things that irked me in this volume than usual.  Hopefully this won’t be a trend.

Banri Hidaka – CMX – 2009 – 13 volumes

Okay, so in between volumes, I only remember how long it took me to get into this series, and not how much I currently love it.  Thus, it was a complete surprise to me when I picked up this volume and absolutely flew through it.  The impending date between Sugimoto and Kazuha that kept getting put off didn’t hurt anything, either.

I’m intrigued with how slow this series moves.  It takes its time with all its little developments, and I think that helps immensely.  Too often in shoujo, a plot point is introduced and dealt with in the same chapter or volume, which is fine.  I often don’t like to be kept waiting if the story is really good.  But I do like IHYMTA’s slow pace.  Kazuha still hasn’t confessed her feelings for Sugimoto, even though it couldn’t be more plain that she loves him.  She just can’t bring herself to say the words.  Similarly, Maki’s background is still a mystery, and other characters keep hinting that he was kind of a rough guy.  We also have the ongoing Chizuru problem.  I like him as a secondary character because, again, his problems are ongoing.  He rebels, and the older boys have a talk with him, but it’s clear that he’s still having problems, and it looks like they may carry over to other volumes.  Chizuru’s adolescence isn’t just magically fixed after he starts having problems, and neither is his strained relationship with his family.  It makes him a more real character.

Senko is a great character, too.  She’s silly beyond belief, and I don’t like her gags most of the time (though one panel with her leering made me laugh pretty hard), but I love what a good friend she is for Kazuha, and I also love her ongoing romantic problems.  The solution to the aforementioned problems is fairly obvious to the reader by this volume, but it looks like it’ll take a long time getting there.

A new character is introduced this volume, with not a lot of explanation given.  It looks like he’ll simultaneously complicate things and open up Maki’s background for us, though I’m sure it’ll be another couple volumes before that develops all the way.

I’ve got two more volumes of this in reserve and one more on the way, and am really looking forward to reading them.  I’m surprised by how attached I’ve grown to this series, especially since I didn’t particularly like it at first.

I was also struck by how sweet the back cover illustration was.  It’s worth mentioning.

I was a bit disappointed that things remain largely the same on the Kazuha/Maki front.  I can’t say I mind too much, because the two of them are in a pretty good place right now, and I still think Maki is quite funny.  The two of them are apart due to Maki’s work schedule at the end of the volume, so maybe I can look forward to a cute reunion next time.

Things are once again peachy keen on the Senko/Kazuha front, though.  The two really are such good friends, and I have to say, I like that Senko seems to be gravitating against her will towards Toru Honjo.  Like I said, the Honjou family is one of the best things about this series, and Toru is probably my favorite character.  He’s just such a comically bad guy.  Case in point: I laughed really hard when, for no reason, there was an answering machine prank he pulled on Maki where he kept getting drunker and leaving messages every ten minutes.  I love him so much.

There’s a lot of focus on the younger Arata Honjo in this volume and his crush on Kazuha.  Arata is the subject of a crush himself, but is totally oblivious.  The girl in question is an old friend of his, and an old acquaintance of Kazuha.

Now, the one thing that got on my nerves a bit in this volume was the similarity between some of the character designs.  Arata’s potential girlfriend looks a lot like Senko and Kazuha’s friend in school, and the friend’s boyfriend is also Arata’s best friend and has a kind of generic design.  Arata and Toru look a lot alike save for the fact that Arata smiles more and Toru is somehow more apathetic-looking, but those two are brothers, so that’s understandable.  Chizuru appears and speaks to Toru at one point, and I couldn’t figure out who he was since he somehow looks like both Kazuha and Arata.  Kazuha’s sister and mom also have sort of generic character designs.  There are a few people who would never be mistaken for anyone else, but there are a handful of characters that I have trouble with sometimes.

I do like this series a lot, but it’s more of a “oh, I’ll pick this up next time I see it” appreiation than it is a burning need to find out what happens next in the lives of the characters.  Everything that happens is pretty standard shoujo stuff, and though it’s well-written, there are a lot of other series I have that are just as good or better.  I have to admit though, there are very few characters out there like Toru and Maki, and that alone probably makes I Hate You More Than Anyone worth reading.

One thing I don’t like about this series is the excessive use of violence as a sight gag.  I figured this would settle down after a few volumes, but it’s still out in full force.  Particularly any scene with Maki and any scene with both Kazuha and Senko.  The friendship between Kazuha and Senko is a really sweet one, but they’re both just so violent towards one another that it makes it hard to appreciate sometimes.

The one thing this series does have is amazing characters, which makes up for a lot.   I’ve fallen in love with the entire Honjo family at this point.  Elder and younger brother along with mother are just too good at being creepy and giving good advice.  The elder Honjo is a particularly good character, as he’s a good friend to Maki, gives good advice to Kazuha, and seems to be a potential love interest for Senko.  He’s also awesomely apathetic and great at putdowns.  I love him.  I want to be him when I grow up.

Maki is also pretty awesome.  Not just because he’s a total girl when it comes to Kazuha, but he also gets a really great scene with Senko towards the end of the volume, too.

The romance between Maki and Kazuha has stalled a bit.  They are still on good terms and everything seems to be mutual at this point, but it doesn’t really move forward.  I have a feeling it will remain in tepid waters like this for a long time.  With a cast of secondary characters like this series has, it’s easy to avoid the big issues like this one while still delivering decent shoujo moments between the two.

Most of the volume is actually about Kazuha getting a job as a part-timer at the Honjo salon.  She starts at the bottom and is apparently going to work her way up.  This is where the Honjo mother is introduced, and we also get a new character named Moritaka that provides some turmoil for the duration of the volume.  She looks like she’ll be hanging around in the cast of secondary characters too, which is fine because she’s got plenty of personality and definition to stick around.  Again, I am in awe over how good the characters are in this series.

I’ve got one more volume of this in reserve, but I’m liking it enough that I’ll probably go out and buy 6 and 7 as well.  I just like shoujo.  I can’t help it.

Ooh, here’s a good one I haven’t read in awhile.  If I recall, the couple dynamic was just starting to get interesting in volume two.  Now, I’ve said before that I do not like older/younger couples (most recently when I was talking about another Hidaka series, V.B. Rose), but this is actually one of the few series where it doesn’t bother me.  This is probably due to the maturity level of the main character, who is pretty level-headed and motherly towards her numerous younger siblings.  And when I say “level-headed,” I just mean in general, because this is the type of series that is prone to letting the characters comically lose their tempers and hit each other.  I’m not all that fond of that device, but it’s gotten to the point where I can pretty much ignore it wherever it appears.

There are two storylines running in this volume.  One is about the fight Kazuha and Sugimoto had, and the other is about Kazuha’s younger brother Chizuru having something of a delinquent/identity crisis.  The rift between Kazuha and Sugimoto lasts most of the volume for no real reason other than the fact Kazuha decides she won’t speak to him until after her exams are over.  Because you spend the entire volume waiting for it, and because Kazuha keeps going over the problem in her head, their reunion at the end is pretty awesome.  I have to give the book a lot of credit for having such a touching scene so early on.

The Chizuru storyline is an interesting one.  When he randomly explains himself to Sugimoto and Honjo, he says he’s acting out because his father doesn’t pay attention to him anymore.  This struck me as hilarious, because that isn’t something that would ever come from a teenage boy’s mouth, let alone when he’s being consoled by two 20-year-old guys.  His actions don’t strike me as particularly worrisome, but Kazuha and her family get really worked up about it, and Kazuha is furious when she finds out that Sugimoto and Honjo gave him advice. This was a little puzzling, simply because their advice was actually the most realistic thing about the whole situation.  I have a feeling the outcome of this will be fairly generic, like Chizuru reconciling with his father and deciding on a career path or something.

Speaking of career paths, Kazuha decides what she wants to do when she graduates.  I had no idea/did not remember that this was something that was tormenting her.  To be honest, she makes kind of a lame choice, and I couldn’t find it in my heart to side with her since it seems like she’s letting… er, outside forces, shall we say, influence her decision.  I’m curious how certain people will take this, and that’s reason enough to be fired up about volume 4.  Well, that plus the fact that Sugimoto and Kazuha are apparently back on speaking terms, which should prove to be interesting.