Honey Lemon Soda, Vol 1 [Manga] Review - A Sweet and Bubbly High School Romance

“A Sweet and Bubbly High School Romance”
  • Mangaka : Murata Mayu
  • Publisher : Yen Press
  • Genre : Comedy, Drama, Romance, School Life, Shoujo
  • Published : January 2023

As sweet and bubbly as its name implies, Honey Lemon Soda is a high-school romance finally arriving in the West seven long years after its debut in Japan. With a tragic backstory for our heroine and a roster of enjoyable side characters to lighten the mood, Murata Mayu’s long-running rom-com achieves a sweet-and-sour start with its first volume.

Join us today on Honey’s Anime as we review Honey Lemon Soda, Volume 1!

Contains Spoilers

Discussion Time

Uka Ishimori is unlucky, clumsy, and ill-equipped for the vast majority of social interactions. Having been raised by helicopter parents, she’s constantly apologizing for the tiniest of mistakes, and always trying her best to fade into the background where nobody will notice her.

Unfortunately, her unsociable attitude and plain looks earned her the cruel nickname of “rocky” (a pun on the “ishi” in her name meaning “rock”). Uka wanted to escape her bullies and restart her life in a new school, but a chance encounter with heart-throb Kai Miura caused her to change her target high school at the last moment.

Now enrolled at Hachimitsu High (providing us the “honey” in the title—this series really loves its puns!), Uka finds herself haunted by her past and her awkwardness. Things start changing for the better when Kai forcefully adopts Uka into his friend circle, finally providing her with the opportunity to grow and find happiness with people who’ll actually like and support her.

As Uka’s one-sided crush grows ever stronger, she can’t help but wonder whether she’ll ever have a chance with Kai—or even gather the courage to confess her feelings!

Honey Lemon Soda’s artwork is as pleasant and bubbly as its name implies, with plenty of sparkly effects on the pages, and brilliantly illustrated hair and eyes that take us back to the golden era of shoujo. New readers of the genre might find the art just slightly dated, but the character designs and frequent jokes all stick the landing, lifting the volume’s quality up quite a bit.

Why You Should Read Honey Lemon Soda, Vol 1

1. Breaking Out Of Your Shell

Uka’s backstory plays a big role in her actions and overall development as a character. Even within the first volume, we see her take the first steps towards changing her life, like a newborn foal learning to walk. Unlike other over-dramatic series that make complex backstories, Uka is a victim of the most common and awful crimes of middle schoolers—name-calling and isolation.

This relatable and believable history makes it so easy to engage with Uka and cheer for her success. Her clumsiness is endearing, and her desire to turn her life around in high school is a familiar plot that is nonetheless enjoyable all the same.

Why You Should Skip Honey Lemon Soda, Vol 1

1. Wooden Door, Meet Male Lead

A huge part of getting invested in shoujo romance is the relationship between the two leads, and although Uka Ishimori is lovely and engaging, the same can’t be said for Kai Miura.

Maybe we’re just getting old and cynical, but the “aloof-popular-guy” schtick really missed the mark for us. He takes the role of Uka’s savior, but his personality traits are otherwise so bland that we’re not sure what Uka sees in him.

Perhaps Kai will grow on us as the series continues—otherwise, we’ll just be reading for Uka’s sake!

Final Thoughts

At 21 volumes (and ongoing) in Japanese, Honey Lemon Soda is definitely going to be a long-term investment for a serious shoujo romance reader. We really loved Uka and her endearing mix of clumsiness and earnestness, but Kai left us rather nonplused.

Uka’s new friends are charming in their own right, with small romances and friendships bubbling along in background panels; and we’re happy to say that the jokes land in all the right ways to make us smile.

Honey Lemon Soda definitely lives up to its sweet, bubbly title!

Are you going to read Honey Lemon Soda? Let us know in the comments below, and as always, thanks for reading!

Honey-Lemon-Soda-wallpaper Honey Lemon Soda, Vol 1 [Manga] Review - A Sweet and Bubbly High School Romance


Author: Brett Michael Orr

I'm a writer, gamer, and reviewer of manga & light novels, from Melbourne, Australia. When I'm not creating a new world, I'll be absorbed in a good JRPG, watching some anime, or reading up a storm!

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