Once again, Del Rey/Kodansha leaves me hanging.
Hana Suzuki loves sleeping so incredibly much, she studied her ass off to get into the prestigious high school 3 minutes from her house so she could have that much more sleeping time. While walking to school one day (in a sleepy daze), she accidentally walks in front of a limo and gets hit, damaging the car. Threatened with having to pay for the repairs, she gets forcibly inducted into the all boys’ field hockey club as goalie after Izumi Oda sees her reflexes and resilience. At first she balks, even with the blackmail, but then she learns they’re really more of a travel club, going around eating at different cities, and happily joins them. Alas, things are never that straight-forward and what follows is ridiculous slapsticky situations, involving tennis club rivals, the ability to sleep literally anywhere, a bishounen-loving chicken, spirit possession, and deceptive creepy old people who dabble in a bit of blackmail.
While the title implies that this is a sports manga, it’s actually a reverse harem romantic comedy (especially as they hardly ever actually play hockey). It’s also weird that two such similar titles came out together (only months apart), as this is remarkably like the more well-known Ouran High School Host Club in that:
- poor female student is accepted into a rich kids’ high school
- said female student is blackmailed into a pretty boys’ club
- female student cares not a bit about fashion or style, much to pretty boys’ horror
- female student’s weak point is good food, normally out of her price range
- pretty boys are completely clueless about “commoner” lifestyle
- there’s a set of redheaded identical twins that are too similar for their own good
- the lead guy is obnoxiously stubborn about getting his way
- the fated couple are oblivious to their inevitable coupledom and spend most of the time bickering
Many people say that this is a ripoff of Ouran, but I believe this actually came out first (2002 vs. 2003). After that, I’m not sure who was parodying whom. They may have fed off of each other, ouroboros style, as the stories continue to have similar situations.
A difference between the two manga is that that My Heavenly Hockey Club seems to rely more on comedy, even going into crude humor territory, making numerous boob jokes (Hana is extremely flat-chested), and chicken poop jokes. Ouran seems more focused on the romantic aspect, even venturing out of comedy and into drama towards the end.
Unfortunately for the US, Del Rey stopped publishing it at volume 8 (there are 14 total), so the romance had hardly started between Izumi and Hana. Kodansha USA has not resumed publishing this as of yet. And probably never will as they seem to like sitting on their titles while readers like me froth at the mouth at the injustice of it all. So where My Heavenly Hockey Club would’ve gone I’m not sure, unless I want to go read the scanlations (which I don’t).
Seeing as I don’t have the whole series, I can’t say which is better, this or Ouran. I think that while they are descriptively similar, their styles are different enough to both be enjoyed. My Heavenly Hockey Club is what I would read if I wanted some good, over the top, ridiculous comedy (with just a splash of romance). Ouran is where I would go if I wanted more of a romancy dramedy. They both definitely do serve up a healthy dose of bishounen though, if that’s your thing.