Happy Hustle High, Vol. 1 by Rie Takada

Takada, R. (2005). Happy Hustle High, Vol. 1. San Francisco, CA: VIZ Media LLC.

ISBN-13: 978-1591169123

Genre: Romance, High School, Shojo

Reading level/ interest age: 15+

Plot summary:

The main character, Hanabe, is a strong female character intent on protecting her friends. She has little interest in fashion or beauty products which seems to spawn from her attendance of an all girl’s school. During class one day, Hanabe and her fellow classmates are shocked when they learn that their school is to be merged with a local all boy’s school. One the way to an informational assembly, Hanabe bumps into Yasuaki, one of the new male students, who turns out to be her rival. With the merger of the two schools, a new student council must be formed. Hanabe is elected by her female classmates and struggles to fit in as she is the only girl on the council.

In an attempt to get a petition singed, Hanabe is forced to compete against Yasuaki in a surfing competition. She wins but has to be saved by Yasuaki who gives her mouth-to-mouth. Hanabe becomes resentful towards him as she counted the experience as a stolen first kiss. Yasuaki learns this and attempts to right the situation. Hanabe must fight to tame her wild personality as she learns more about friendship and men.

Reader’s annotation:

Hanabe’s all girl high school is about to be merged with the local all boy’s school. Something has to be done about this! But with all the beautiful new male students, maybe a decision can wait?

Information about the author:

“Rie Takada is a manga artist who first debuted in 1990 appearing in a popular Japanese shojo magazine. Her works focus on the shojo culture as well, geared towards a younger female population interested in romantic works. Rie is rumored to enjoy watching plays and engaging in role playing games” (MangaUpdates.com, 2014).

Note: Rie Takada is a Japanese manga artist who currently lives in Japan. Biographical information on her written in English is severely lacking with only a handful of reworded sentences existing. The manga themselves contain the exact same information on her with nothing more to add. I have not been able to find anything more on her other than what is listed above.

Curriculum ties: N/A

Booktalking ideas:

1.       How would you feel if you attended a same-sex school and it merged with another?
2.       Do you think you would have problems making friends with members of the opposite sex?

Critical evaluation:

As with most manga, Hanabe’s personality is very over-the-top. She is put in impossible situations with very embarrassing outcomes and yet still comes out victorious. Bypassing this, the story is very endearing though it lacks originality. Hanabe is a high school student struggling to fit in which is a much overplayed theme in Japanese novels.  Unlike traditional heroines, Hanabe is feisty rather than laid back and struggles to cope with her personality in a traditional Japanese society where “the nail that sticks up gets hammered down.” Hanabe’s character challenges traditional gender roles and her design is more reminiscent of a high school student rather than the bustier representation so often favored by manga artists.

Happy Hustle High, Vol. 1 is a sweet, carefree, and airy story good for a quick read. Hanabe is an interesting character who wins the hearts of readers and leaves them dying to know what other trouble she can get into.

Challenge issues: N/A

Why included:

Manga are very popular with teens of Asian cultures and have gained status in America as well. Despite not selling as well as they did several years ago, manga are still widely read. I have included this material for its popularity, the genre (as most readers of manga are female), and for those who could possibly benefit from visual skills needed to understand the storyline.


Manga Updates.com. (2014). Takada Rie. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from

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