Genre: Josei / Romance / Drama / Comedy
Working two jobs to pay off the huge debt of her economically-retarded father, Chiawa Takanashi has pretty much given up on all hope of finding a meaningful relationship. This all changes when a rather strange man requests her at the host club she’s recently started work at. Meet Hokuto Mamiya, grandson of a businessman that was in love with her grandmother during his youth. He makes a rude comment provoking her and has her fired. The next day she learns that he is her superior at her full time office job. She is quickly given the choice by his grandfather of marrying Hokuto in exchange for the paying off of her father’s debts. What’s in it for the rather egotistical potential husband? He inherits control of the entire corporation if he is married to Chiawa. So begins a rather bizarre love story about a extremely honest office girl and an egotistical but good-hearted alpha male.
I was actually surprised with this manga. I had read a chapter mid-way through more than a year ago, but had dismissed it out of hand because I was missing some important back-story. When I returned to it a few weeks back, I found myself drawn in because of the two protagonists. Chiawa is a brutally honest character that is forced to keep the marriage a secret for sometime to keep Hokuto’s reputation intact. He is a lady’s man that is determined to stay faithful to Chiawa even though the two didn’t marry for love. But over time the two grow attached to each other. The readers have to deal with Hokuto’s occasional sadism that is directly linked to his jealousy, but we can deal with these bouts because Chiawa is a rather outspoken and strong adversary. The plot regarding Hokuto’s bloodline and the death of his mother when he was a child also helps strengthen their bond. The dialogue between Hokuto and Chiawa adds to this dance.
If you enjoy a Harlequin-style romance with an occasional dark edge to it, then the Hapi Mari manga will probably appeal a lot. There is more than enough drama to keep soap opera fans something to gnaw on for days. The plot is easy to follow and the dialogue adds lots to the character interactions. The sex scenes are somewhat tasteful. The dialogue was quite amusing, adding a lot to the characters. The rare action sequences logically play out as well. Though there were a few moments where the story dragged out a bit, I really enjoyed reading Hapi Mari. Not a bad first experience with a Josei genre manga.