Honey Lemon Soda Volumes 3-4 Review

When I last reviewed Honey Lemon Soda we saw protagonist Uka fully commit to wanting to change herself, not just to be able to stand by her love interest Kai but so she can make friends and find a place for herself at school. Now with a further two volumes released, it’s time to find out how she’s getting on. 

Towards the end of Volume 2, Uka meets Serina who is Kai’s ex-girlfriend. She’s beautiful and popular, so Uka knows she can’t hold a candle to her and worries that she doesn’t fit beside Kai now Serina’s in the picture. Although Kai and his ex are in different classes, Serina still has a picture of Kai from their middle school days on her phone and rumours are circulating that she’s still in love. 

Uka with her low self-esteem immediately spirals, knowing she can’t compete with Serina for Kai’s affections. But before she can dwell on that, preparations for the upcoming school culture festival are announced and Uka decides as part of her desire to change that she’ll put herself forward to be the class representative! To bring this ragtag group of students together Uka is going to need to be firm, something she isn’t very good at. 

And of course, because she can’t lead the group very well and they see no reason to listen to her, Uka ends up handling most of the tasks on her own, at least to start with. After seeing her work so hard and with some support from Kai, perhaps other students will be inspired by her and begin lending a hand…? 

The culture festival storyline continues into Volume 3, where Uka and her class are working their hardest to make the maid café they’re running a success. Thanks to everyone’s hard work the café is proving popular, which Uka is ecstatic about. But the festival has also brought with it a set of new problems as when she’s spotted wandering around with Kai, she gets cornered by a group of girls demanding to know what their relationship is! 

And then later on Uka rescues Serina from some trouble and Serina finally opens up about her history with Kai from middle school and why the two are close, as well as the problems in their relationship. Serina denies still having feelings for Kai, but Uka suspects she’s lying and decides that she shouldn’t stand in their way, no matter how much it hurts. 

When I reviewed Volume 2 of this series I was pleasantly surprised when it put the romance on the backburner to focus on developing Uka, something that these two instalments have continued to do. Yes, there’s more drama since Serina was introduced but by and large, they’ve still both been about Uka moving forward and creating a space for herself, especially during the culture festival preparation. Kai is present throughout the storylines, but he’s not a crutch for Uka when he easily could have been and I think that’s important for the message mangaka Mayu Murata has been trying to convey.

Another thing I appreciate is that where a lot of other shojo manga would have made Uka and Serina rivals who hate or dislike each other, that’s not the case here. Uka and Serina become friendly despite being from different classes and not seeing each other that often. It’s not a perfect relationship by any means, especially when Uka is so self-conscious and compares herself to Serina, but it was reassuring to see that no matter how they feel about Kai that’s not going to come between them. 

And that is why I have grown so fond of Honey Lemon Soda over the course of these few volumes. It’s not prone to the usual tropes we see in romance manga and it’s very earnest in how it presents the cast and their desires. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how it develops, knowing how long a series it is. While the thought of sticking with a series for 20+ volumes is daunting at the best of times, I have a feeling this one will reward those who do. 

Honey Lemon Soda Volumes 3 and 4 come to the West thanks to Yen Press where they continue to be translated by Amanda Haley with lettering by Chiho Christie. Both releases read well with no problems to speak of. 

Volume 5 of the series is currently scheduled for an English release in March with #6 following in July. So a relatively consistent release schedule so far, which is reassuring, given how much of this there is for Yen Press to publish! 

Overall, Honey Lemon Soda continues to move forward doing what it does best. Where most series like this would put romance at the forefront, Mayu Murata’s series instead doubles down on developing our heroine Uka as she experiences all kinds of new things. This is a series I am still very happy to stick with for the long haul.

Our review copies from Yen Press were supplied by Diamond Book Distributors UK. 

9 / 10


When she's not watching anime, reading manga or reviewing, Demelza can generally be found exploring some kind of fantasy world and chasing her dreams of being a hero.

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