Hana Ni Arashi (花にアラシ, Flower in a Storm)
By Shigeyoshi Takagi
Hana Ni Arashi was one of those manga series where “I shouldn’t judge the book by its’ cover.” What I mean by that is although this manga has the typical storyline of rich boy meets and falls in love with an ordinary girl, there were some surprising elements within this series that caught my eye.
Like I said before, Hana Ni Arashi is about a young heir of a world-renown business, Ren Tachibana, falling love at first sight with a high school girl named Riko Kunimi. Ren transfers into Riko’s school, and pursues her by expressing his love in extravagant ways. However, Riko has some battle scars when it comes to love. Riko’s first love rejected her because she has a sporty appearance.
When Ren is first introduced, readers learn that he is an heir of a company, which brings forth the usual heir persona: handsome physical appearance, highly intelligent, popular with the ladies (could be a womanizer), but is also arrogant and stubborn. Although Ren embodies some of these traits, he doesn’t possess a haughty attitude. In fact, while reading this manga, I found Ren to be somewhat flamboyant and naive. In some ways, he reminded me of Tamaki in Ouran High School Host Club. He puts an effort to make Riko notice him. For example, he would arrive to school in a helicopter, and would take Riko on lavish dates and vacations, but nothing seems to please her. Furthermore, Ren does have a masculine persona, but at times, during dangerous situations, his bodyguards or Riko has to save him.
As for Riko, she is a “commoner,” but isn’t “ordinary.” What I think “not ordinary” refers to is that she doesn’t have any feminine charm. Unlike most female characters in shoujo manga, Riko does not portray the naive, damsel-in-distress. Furthermore, in typical shoujo manga, the female protagonist usually needs to be rescued and protected by the male lead. Instead, Riko is athletic and flexible to the degree that whenever Riko is in a dangerous situation, she rescues herself by using her flexibility or knowledge of self-defense, and she is also capable of protecting Ren.
Besides the two main characters, I thought that the clock tower is another interesting detail within this manga. In the first chapter, Ren proposes a cat-and-mouse game that will end the next day at 5 P.M. If Ren catches Riko, they will become a couple, and if he doesn’t, he will stop bothering her . Well, the clock tower gets destroyed by explosives, and time stopped a few minutes before the game could end at 5 P.M. Now, from this scene, what could you interpret from a destroyed clock tower? Well in one point of view, the destruction of the clock tower could be seen as romantic. Time stopped for a couple to remain in the moment of devotion and love as they embrace each other. Or time stopping could signify that a couple’s relationship will not progress. Time stopping places a time limit on a couple’s relationship, which implies that a couple will eventually break up. Also a time limit suggests that a couple’s love is not eternal. I know, my interpretation sounds depressing, but that is how I view the link between lovers, clocks and time.
Putting clocks aside, Hana Ni Arashi is a hilarious manga that balances the cutesy, cheesy romance moments with some entertaining, comedic antics from Ren.