Hotaru no Hikari
If it wasn’t obvious, this is a continuation of my previous Hotaru no Hikari review/discussion. Click here if you want to read that.
Anyway. This is a series I’ve always loved, so I embraced having a new season… but I was also a bit confused. There’s definitely room to be a second season, but I felt the ending was good enough…Oh well.
The second season begins with Hotaru apparently coming back from a 3 year long stay in Hong Kong. She comes home to a very irritated Buchou as he finds her acting as if she had never left. We learn that they had planned to have a strong long distance relationship where she would call and mail him everyday. “Viva long distance relationship!” Hotaru had said. Yeah, that didn’t work out. She only sent him one postcard. At least she brought home a costume?
What? Were you afraid there'd be less nonsense?
After that fiasco passes, Buchou basically proposes (it was more of a “we should get married” than an actual proposal), and the rest of the season has Hotaru trying to prepare herself for married life and the actual wedding. Of course, we all know it won’t go smoothly, especially at the sight of a mysterious woman named Konatsu that seems to be curiously close to Buchou.
She only turns out to be his ex from high school, but I will say that she ends up being a source of lots of drama between our main couple. She also ends up being the main client for Hotaru’s firm and thus being quite important throughout the whole season.
Oh yeah, and all of the people at the firm have been replaced except for Yamada (and Futatsugi’s around too, though he doesn’t work with them). All of the new workers are young and notably lazy and unambitious and our Hotaru ends up being looked up to because of her experience. The main two people of this new batch of coworkers, however, are Seno and Sakuragi. Seno, a contract worker and thus especially unmotivated, ends up being Hotaru’s new love interest. They grow to be good friends as Hotaru learns that he’s pretty much a dried-fish man, so he’s almost a male version of herself.
That's how friends hold hands. I guess.
Sakuragi, on the other hand, is a girl who has a crush on Seno and ends up seeing Hotaru as both a rival in love and mentor at work. Another character, Izaki, while not overly significant story-wise, was extremely entertaining. He appears to have some kind of crush on Buchou and gazes upon a picture of him on his phone after a good jog, but his time with Buchou always seems to get interrupted when he notices little “moments” between coworkers. Poor Izaki.
If it wasn’t obvious, season 2 brings a lot of changes, I mean, I’ve been mainly talking about side characters so far. It seems as though someone noticed the lack of importance in the side characters in the first season and decided to up the ante. At first, I thought I would loathe all of the new characters because of their bored-about-everything attitude, but they all seem to grow as people as the show progresses and manage to have some depth to their personalities.
Don't mind me, I'm just gonna steal your fiance for half the show.
It actually seems like this season had Hotaru and Buchou interacting with other characters more than with each other. It’s not necessarily bad, either, because I feel as if a good amount of those side stories and interactions were better than some of the scenes between the main couple. Hotaru’s naivety seemed to be turned up and so some of the “conflicts” she has with Buchou were even more ridiculous than usual.
For example, there’s an episode where Hotaru gets a rash that is deemed to have been caused by “holding back something.” Buchou consults with others and they tell him that it may be her holding back a kiss. So this means they should start acting more like a couple because that’s what Hotaru truly wants. Unforunately, we learn that she was actually “holding back” on eating a certain food that she secretly really loves because Buchou hates it (nevermind that we find out that the cause of the rash was something completely unrelated).
These things are the source of an episode of drama.
I liked Seno and Sakuragi so much better than Makoto and Yuuka, and thus I want to say that I like this season better, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. I felt as though Hotaru was made out to be more naive and innocent than last season, which shouldn’t make sense since it’s been 3 years and one would assume she would have at least grown a little in all that time. Buchou actually got a bit more depth, though. He obviously struggles with her reappearance after she had basically disappeared off the face of the planet. He gets frustrated more often by her actions and has to deal with being a man and thus being attracted to Konatsu. They are all very valid troubles and he does work through it eventually.
I s’pose Hotaru does take a big step at the end, in a situation I won’t mention to avoid spoilers. The only problem is: why does she only then decide to try to become more mature? She was already gone for 3 years! She didn’t have Buchou for any period of time during those 3 years, why are those 3 months later on different and apparently magical?
Oh well. Both seasons have their good points and bad points, and if you did like the first, I would say watch this season as well. It wasn’t inherently bad at all, and it still had a lot of the same antics and “d’awww” moments. I must say, though, it’s a little weird at first to see them kind of sort of acting like a couple. Overall though, it does seem like a valid continuation in the series and you should watch it if you liked the first season.
Comparison to the Manga
Manga version of Buchou and Hotaru.
Unfortunately, I can’t do a complete comparison to the manga because scanlations seem to have completely halted at around chapter 36. The author has been telling translators to stop, from what I’ve heard, and a few manga sites have completely taken down the chapters (and a few major manga sites have been forced to take down everything, as I’m sure you’ve heard). In what’s translated of the manga, Hotaru hasn’t even started living with Makoto. I’m actually really bothered that I won’t ever be able to finish reading it…
Now, to actually compare them. Hotaru is much less naive and, well, idiotic. She’s actually able to hold a seemingly normal relationship without seeming like a middle schooler “dating” her first “boyfriend.” She and Makoto actually appear to sleep with each other regularly! Gasp! She just overall acts more like a 27-year-old should and isn’t completely hopeless (just as a small detail, in the manga, she’s 27, and Buchou is 41, in the drama, she’s 24 and he’s 37, I believe). She’s merely really lazy at home, which I’m sure a lot of people can relate to.
Manga-Buchou is a bit more laid back and seems to easily accept her lifestyle as long as she keeps the house relatively clean. I would also say that he feels older in the manga somehow. Perhaps it’s because of the art style, but I just think he seems more wise and gives off a more mature air. He’s a bit more frank, as well, and just outright states how he’s feeling, which is refreshing, I must say.
Aaaand Makoto (and Buchou again).
Manga-Makoto actually has a bit more of a personality. Because it’s a manga, we get to see into his head a bit more and so we see him get nervous or excited upon encounters with Hotaru instead of just looking eternally nonchalant. Unfortunately, he still seems to have a shallow view of Hotaru, which I’m sure is the point.
As for the other characters: Yamada exists, but she has such a tiny role that I don’t think most people would even remember her name. Yuuka is actually mostly the same, other than that she doesn’t start off as one of Hotaru’s coworker– she meets her a bit into the manga. Kaname is also introduced later on, and he’s actually much different from the drama-Kaname. He’s shown as a high class, snooty man who actually turns into a bit of an antagonist when he blackmails poor Hotaru with a picture of her in her sweats and topknot. Eventually, they do become friends of sorts (she calls him “my lord” though), and she learns he has a crush on Yuuka and attempts to help him there.
So he is indeed Yuuka’s love interest, but there’s actually more to him than that.
Oh yeah, and Seno and Sakuragi don’t exist. I’m sure most of season 2 was just made for the drama, however, which leads me to…
Again, I can’t really say too much because the manga didn’t get too far, but the drama does mostly condense the manga’s main story. Buchou shows up and begins living with Hotaru, Makoto appears, they inexplicably kiss, they start dating, etc. The drama, however, does add or alter things in order to make it more comedic, which isn’t to say the manga isn’t funny, it’s merely more dramatic (as expected from a josei).
The manga has much more involvement from Hotaru’s family, however. Some of my favorite chapters actually involve her cute little nephews, who do seem to be recurring characters. At least the second season has her sister make an appearance… and mention their parents.
Additionally, Buchou actually leaves Hotaru (who seems to live fine on her own), and admits that he must have been angry that she let another man sleep in their house.
And… that’s how it ends. I don’t want to look up any more details of what happens in the hopes that maybe I’ll eventually finish reading the manga. Overall, while the drama does use the same concept and story, a lot of it was changed, probably for the sake of making it a more interesting show. The manga just has a different feel as Hotaru’s more mature and thus it is able to focus more on the relationships and emotions between people. It’s more realistic, basically. The drama does do a bit of that, as I’ve mentioned in the previous review, but it’s more lighthearted about it. I personally like both, but I’m sure some people want more realism, while others want a lighthearted comedy.
The story is still interesting and entertaining either way, so I would recommend either, especially for all the dried fishes of the world~