Honey Lemon Soda is an all-out shojo manga. The main character, a shy girl named Uka Ishimori, is new to high school and wants to make her dreams come true. She has no friends, and is painfully awkward around others. Her parents are helicopter parents who didn’t prepare her for the real world and she gets upset or overwhelmed quickly. Kids at school make fun of her and her name, calling her “Rocky” in a pun on her last name.
Kai Miura is the love interest in this story. Like many other shojo heroes, he’s cool, collected and way out of the heroine’s league. And yet . . . you know the two of them are going to get together. He sticks up for her. He even promises to make her dreams come true. And he says if she’s a rock, she’s a gemstone, giving new meaning to the teasing nickname the other kids have given her. There’s also a brief back story where they met before high school, bringing in a deeper connection between the two.
The title Honey Lemon Soda comes from the blond of Kai’s hair, and is also a reference to a soda seen in the manga. There are also multiple illustrations of lemons beside the panels throughout the book.
So far Uka has a stronger personality than Kai. We get to know her well and feel her insecurities. Kai, in the first volume, is mainly just the heart throb. He doesn’t have a lot of personality beyond his coolness, or at least so far. He has a few moments of opening up to Uka.
Honey Lemon Soda is escapist reading through-and-through, best for fans who like shojo. It’s not really breaking any new ground, but the story is sweet and the artwork is attractive. It’s been quite popular in Japan, which has led to a live-action movie adaptation.
Story & Art: Mayu Murata
Publisher: Yen Press
Translator: Amanda Haley
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.