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Hana no Namae – Saitou Ken

It almost seems an insult to categorise this manga under shoujo…

There’s some doubt in the manga-reading community if male mangakas can “do” shoujo manga, – if Saitou-sensei is anything to go by, then the female mangakas had better watch out! Hana no Namae is an emotionally-complex and dark manga, that goes above and beyond the normal sugary and unrealistic confections of the genre, as well as being beautifully drawn, Saitou-sensei also has a real gift for colour on the front covers and colour pages that mangakas in general conspicuously lack.

Chouko lost both of her parents in a car crash whilst she was still in highschool; in a self-imposed lockdown of grief she is passed from relative to relative, until Kei – a darkly-complex man as well distant relative of her father’s and an author – agrees to take her in until she graduates from high school. Kei snaps her out of her mindset, and the two live in harmony – until he publishes the highly personal “Hana”, which changes both of their lives irrevocably.

A symphony upon the nature of love, depression, art, beauty and duty –  it is hard to resist Hana no Namae. This manga manages to make so many eloquent points upon the nature of the human condition in such a beautiful way, that I assure you that it won’t leave you for years to come. I desperately want Studio Deen to make a film, or a television series.

Two words: Read it. 4.95 out of 5, (if you want to know why see the ending). Stay tuned folks.

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