Takane & Hana, Vol. 1

The opening pages of Takane & Hana offer a uniquely Japanese twist on the meet cute: the couple in question are set up by a marriage broker who thinks she’s introducing a twenty-three year old beauty to a twenty-six-year-old bachelor. The bride-to-be, however, is a sixteen-year-old high school student who’s posing as her older sister — don’t ask — while the potential groom is an impossibly handsome jerk who’s angry that his family is pressuring him to settle down. Guess what happens next? If you said, “Opposites attract!”, you wouldn’t be wrong, though the course of true love hits a few potholes along the way.

I’m of two minds about Takane & Hana. My fifteen-year-old self adores Hana for being so smart and sassy, the kind of girl who says devastatingly true things and still manages to stay in other people’s good graces. My forty-five-year-old self, however, feels uncomfortable with the ten-year age gap between its lead characters. While Yuki Shiwasu cheerfully acknowledges the troubling power dynamic between Takane and Hana, she wants to eat her cake and have it, too: Hana’s incisive comments are supposed to level the playing field with the older, more experienced Takane, making it OK for the two to flirt, date, and kiss. At the end of the day, however, the economic and educational gulf between Hana and Takane still seems vast, making Takane seem like a predatory creep for preferring the company of a mature sixteen-year-old over a woman his age.

I know, I know: I’m humorless. A killjoy. A big ol’ capital-F feminist. But in a moment when we’re having serious conversations about power and consent, I’m having difficulty getting caught up in Takane and Hana’s romantic shenanigans, however much Hana sounds like a teenaged Rosalind Russell, or how wonderfully elastic Takane and Hana’s faces may be. Takane & Hana is unquestionably someone’s guilty pleasure — just not mine.

Takane & Hana, Vol. 1
Story and Art by Yuki Shiwasu
Adaptation by Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane
VIZ Media, 200 pp.
Rated T, for Teens

3 thoughts on “Takane & Hana, Vol. 1”

  1. Aaron says:

    Thanks again as always for posting my reviews particularly happy to see Alice & Zoroku Volume Three get a mention as that series is severely underrated in my opinion. If the ten year age difference in Takane & Hana is bothersome. The 28 year age difference in Summer Rains by Jun Mayuzuki (due out September 25, 2018, from Vertical Comics) between the 17-year-old protagonist who pursues the 45-year-old divorced single Father who is also her manager at the restaurant she works at will be even more so.

    Then there is My Boy by Hitmoi Takano also published in English by Vertical Comics and due out April 10th 2018 about a 30-year-old female office worker who befriends a lonely and neglected 12-year-old boy. With a lot of these series I either have to go into them believing the author is working in some sort of “good faith” (for lack of a better term) with the audience.

    While at other times I have to say to myself as when I used to review Visual Novels is “this is someone’s fantasy but it is not mine” or “I am obviously not the target demographic for this title”.

    1. Katherine Dacey says:

      I’ve been meaning to check out Alice & Zoruko; from your reviews, it sounds like an interesting mixture of genres, and a genuinely original story.

      As for age gaps… I feel more uncomfortable with those kind of stories now that I’m in my 40s. When I was 15 or 20, I don’t think the age gaps you’re describing would have bothered me so much, in part because I couldn’t fully appreciate the power dynamics at work in such an asymmetrical relationship. Now, however…. I have a lot of trouble processing those stories as simple guilty pleasures.

      1. Aaron says:

        Thanks for the reply I was talking to a friend about this and his response was “well it’s fiction so it’s not like it’s happening in reality”. Also, I have a friend who has an age gap of almost 10 years in his relationship with his wife. To argue some sort of power dynamic or potential for manipulation or abuse is knowing them laughable, to say the least.

        But then again my context and Worldview is Fundamentalist Evangelicalism where I have friends getting married in their twenties and late teens and I’m kind of the outlier being single at 32.

        I do think the discussion about power dynamics in fictional relationships has a place and you are allowed to dislike or like whatever they want for your own personal reasons. You’re just not allowed to shame people or insult them for what they like, this was a thing with a certain amount of the negative criticism of Sword Art Online and Love Hina for a period of time.

        If I may be allowed a tangent and two unrelated examples and sometimes people like something for no other reason than it is entertaining and there is no deeper significance than it amuses the person. Although sometimes I have thought that some of the more progressive-leaning reviewers and websites.

        Sound oddly like the sort of Evangelical or Conservative Media Watchdog groups that gauge media on it’s “Appropriateness” for a given group. A useful service for sure if one wishes to avail one’s self of it. Just an odd observation as what I perceive as kind of Horseshoe theory if you will.

        I just find it kind of draining when seemingly the only conversation online that seems to be had around a series like Love is Like after the Rain is how problematic the relationship is. Similar to why I decided to not review the Made in Abyss Manga(which won Anime of The Year at The Crunchyroll Awards). As professing love for the series in some circles is quick to get you called a Pedophile.

        And frankly, I don’t want to spend half my time trying to review something just to have to correct people’s misapprehensions of a series because of an out of context page or because someone has an ideological ax to grind. Or re-explain that my defending something’s right to exist does not mean I approve of it unqualifiedly.

        That is another aside though I mean I like Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody. And yet some of the descriptions and dialogue involving characters as young as 14 and the slavery element does occasionally give me pause.

        Although I still enjoy it as a silly over the top power fantasy. Even if occasionally I’m kind of left cringing at some of the artistic choices the author makes.

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