This review will contain spoilers for the manga and anime series Honey Maple More More Sugar. While the manga may vary slightly from all other forms of media, it may have similar story elements and could be considered spoilers.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to obsession, age gap, and self-deprecation, as it appears in the manga.
Bee is a bit of a celebrity in the niche crafting community, thanks to his beautiful stuffed creations that he posts online. The online community isn't just for sharing crafted creations but also a place for gay men to meet up and often have cybersex. Bee, aka Tsumugi, takes full advantage of his popularity, posting his creations and then enjoying some sensual time with his fans. While he has his pick of the litter, Tsumugi's preferred partner is also his top fan, Chiitan. Chiitan is always the first to leave comments on any of Bee's posts, and how he dominates in the DMs is right up Tsumugi's alley. If Tsumugi is going to meet with anyone IRL, it's going to be Chiitan.
Chiitan hesitantly agrees, and Tsumugi couldn't be more excited (and nervous). Bee has attempted to meet a couple of people from the community, only to be disappointed as the people end up being creepy or not what Tsumugi expected. Thanks to Chiitan's interactions online, Tsumugi has set himself up to be disappointed once again, imagining a cutesy and soft man. Chiitan ends up being anything but. Chiitan, aka Mikio, is a tall, angry-looking man, more befitting the mafia than a crafting community. Thankfully, he is still attractive, and though Tsumugi is terrified of Mikio, they end up eating together and kissing. Mikio even gives Tsumugi a stuffed animal he made himself named Honey. It's a really nice time overall.
Tsumugi, as much as he loves his interactions with Chiitan, is too nervous to continue with Mikio, but no matter how he tries to find a new cybersex partner, none are like Chiitan. Can Tsumugi see beyond Mikio's tough exterior?
I'm not a big fan of this artist's style. I've said this before on another work I reviewed (Absolute Submission -Like Hell I'll Obey!-), but the faces are rough. They have very narrow chins, which leaves their heads very top-heavy, and it just doesn't look great. Chiitan, especially, looks bad, primarily due to his slicked-back hair, which is so unfortunate looking. It really highlights the alien-like shape of his head. Bee looks better, mostly due to his haircut, I think, as it helps hide his head shape, but both character's faces are super inconsistent and look rough most of the time. They both don't look the best. It's not terrible, but the art isn't where this really shines.
While the art isn't my favorite, I have to say that I adore the story for this. I love that Chiitan turns out to be this big, older, scary-looking guy who just loves creating precious stuffed animals and enjoying all things cute. It's so cute, and I am all about people being passionate about things. I've read this on two different platforms because I like that setup so much. The whole “don't judge a book by its cover” storyline is a tale as old as time, but I love it all the same. Chiitan expressing his love for crafting in such an authentic and genuine way, in turn, shows how much he trusts and cares for Bee. He usually hides away his love behind his online persona, and even in his own home, he puts all of his creations and cute things in a closet that he's decked out in a tribute to the things that bring him joy. Yet, as secretive and private as he is, he brings Bee into this world and even shares a part of it with him when he gives Bee “Honey.” It's such an honest and sweet way of showing his love and trust as well as his vulnerability. I just love that stuff.
That isn't to say Chiitan is all rays of sunshine and green flags. The fact that he essentially wanted to move Bee into his house within a few days of knowing him in real life is hella weird. This is, unfortunately, another single-volume work, so there's only so much time to build up romance. I actually find Bee's reaction to all of this to be super realistic. As soon as Chiitan brings up dating, being in love, meeting families, and moving in, he is understandably freaked out and tries his best to distance himself from Chiitan, but as these whirlwind romances go, he soon realizes how much he misses Chiitan's (short) presence in his life and inevitably goes crawling back.
What I find super interesting is how much better the women in this look over the men. We get to meet Chiitan's sisters, each being a very distinct type with the refined, professional sister and the cutesy Lolita-esque type, and they both look so nice and consistent. Of course, only being in a single chapter, they don't have as much time to be inconsistent, but it says a lot that the more feminine characters seem to be more in the wheelhouse of this artist than the more masculine. This is even evident in the plushes, who are more feminine and look identical from panel to panel. That may not seem interesting since plushes don't have emotions and are still most of the time, but there are moments where Honey and Maple are brought to life in Bee's dreams, and they look consistent even then. I'm not calling this out as a negative, but I found it worth discussing since our main characters appear more frequently and are drawn more often, yet are not as consistent as characters and objects that aren't.
This is fine. I really, really like the setup, particularly with Chiitan's character and how he expresses his love and vulnerabilities. He comes off as so honest and genuine and just someone worth loving and protecting. This is the definition of a whirlwind romance, so if you're looking for a realistic and gradual romance, this is not the one. But for something quick, dirty, with a touch of sweetness, look no further. I'm a fan.
Have you read Honey Maple More More Sugar? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!