Volume 21 of “Hana-Kimi” (“Hanazakaria no Kimitachi he”) has finally come out in the US. This is the pivotal volume in the Hana-Kimi series. So far, “Hana-Kimi” is my favorite manga series and this volume is the best in the series. Gosh, it took so long to get there, which makes this volume all the more sweeter. (I have to admit that I have already read Hana-Kimi. I read it before it got the US at least a couple of years ago. If you can’t wait to finish the last two volumes, they are out there in the ether. Also, if you really like this series, buy the manga to encourage publishers put out more great series. I bought this series in English and I’m considering getting it in Japanese, too. Oh, and some extra one-off stories came out too, so look out for those. Hopefully they will be included in the 23rd volume.)
Why is “Hana-Kimi” my favorite manga series? … well, I haven’t quite put my finger on it yet. I adore Sano, Mizuki, and Nakatsu and my heart really felt what each of them was going through. The most intriguing thing about this series is the way Nakatsu is dealt with. As the reader we adore Nakatsu, because the author does too. We believe Nakatsu and Mizuki would be good together, but know it must be Sano. Yet, when Mizuki makes her feelings clear, we feel deeply for Nakatsu and we understand the guilt his best friend, Sano, feels. And we understand that Sano, seriously, has no intention of letting someone else, even his best friend, have Mizuki — not that he feels she’s his to give. Love is that way. There’s always somebody who is hurt in the wake of a happy couple — whether the happy couple is aware of it or not.
The other thing that resonates with me about this series is the fear that both Mizuki and Sano feel in their love. There is a lie between them — She is pretending to be a he, he is pretending he does know she’s a girl, they are both pretending not to be in love, even though one another is about the only thing on their minds. They are so scared to lose one another that they live in this carefully crafted house of cards so they can be together. I have felt this fear — and it’s scary to give yourself over, because if that person you care so much for rejects you, you fear it will tear your chest out. And when it does happen, it does hurt like nothing else (it does get better over time, though, and eventually goes away if you don’t see that person anymore).
Well, I guess I just answered my own question: This is my favorite manga series, because I feel this manga and I relate deeply to the story and the characters.