Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Heavenly Hockey Club, vol. 3

The story: Sleep- and food-loving Hana is a none-too-willing member of her high school's field hockey club, even if it is filled with gorgeous boys. This time around, Hana and one of the boys get lost in the jungle while on vacation, leading to hilarious results. Up next is the obligatory group vacation at a hot springs resort, only this isn't what the team expected. When the vacation ends and it's time to head home, Izumi finds an unexpected guest waiting for him. In trying to avoid his guest, he ends up dragging Hana into a faux relationship against her will.

Reaction: This series grew on me in this volume -- it takes all the expected shojo tropes and makes them more hilarious and satirical. While it would be so easy to give in to fan service, or let this story take a dramatic turn to develop the romantic relationships, Ai Morinaga avoids it and skewers typical storylines instead. I will freely admit that the last chapter is a little stupid, but it's too ridiculous to not be found at least a little bit funny.

Deep thoughts: In talking to a friend about this series, I realized that I was a little too hard on it initially. I often compare it to the reverse-harem comedy Ouran High School Host Club, which came out first. But, the way she looked at it was through the lens of satirical comedy and measured it on its own merits. In some ways, MHHC is a caricature of OHSHC and takes some of the situations presented there to their logical, if more extreme, conclusion. I don't know that MHHC does "it" better, but it certainly is entertaining in its own way.

Artwork: There are some great physical comedy moments throughout this volume, especially during the hot springs chapter. Overall, though, my favorite panel is probably from the first chapter where Hana shouts, "Whose dad are you!!!?" She's leaping through the air, mouth agape and ready to pounce on Takashi in anger. Meanwhile, he's turned away from her, cowering in fear. It's an unexpected interaction between the two, especially since Takashi usually plays the bully. Of course, there are also exaggerated shojo moments, like furiously blushing cheeks and perfectly timed tears. But, the "crutch" of nudity as rom-com plot device is a bit overdone by now and I'm ready for them to crack a new joke.

The verdict: If only... I know I've yet to be totally satisfied with this series, but I still enjoy it based upon its merits. With a few tweaks here and there, I could see this easily becoming more of a favorite. For now, I'll just enjoy the goofy plots and abundant laughs. My Heavenly Hockey Club is available in the U.S. from Del Rey.

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