In many ways, this does hit several shoujo romance cliches: normal girl and guy with rough appearance who actually has a heart of gold and will win her over in the end. Of course, she’ll have a crush on someone else and will have to slowly but surely come around to the guy who really likes her. But that said, it is a sweet title (as the name implies) and certainly worth a look.
Story: Nao has always been a bit timid and a coward. So when she saw a delinquent looking boy sitting in the rain looking beat up, she drops an umbrella and bandages next to him and then runs away. Imagine her surprise a year later when he shows up at her new high school asking to be her boyfriend. Afraid of the bleached red hair and scary looks, she complies. But it turns out Taiga Onise might have been completely misunderstood. And so her heart, broken when her parents died and salvaged by a kind young uncle, will slowly warm to Taiga and his innate good intentions.
Taiga Onise clearly fell in love with out protagonist through an act that she considered cowardice (she ran away without helping further) and he considered kindness (the umbrella and bandaids). The first few chapters were about both establishing new friendships in their first weeks of high school with other misunderstood souls. Enter a school trip, a haunted forest, and her uncle needing help at his restaurant and fortunately finding that Onise is a very good cook at 15 years of age indeed.
Honey So Sweet is best categorized as heartwarming. Sweet but not deep, the characters are likable and this is more romance than slice of life. Taiga is always sweet and considerate – and if a bit too perfect, he is the ideal boyfriend. Nao, meanwhile, also has a good heart and makes a likable main character. This is Amu Meguro’s debut series and it will be interesting to see where she takes it from here. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.