Hakomari Light Novel Review

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Do you know why you are making the mistake of sacrificing yourself? It’s because you’re weak. It’s because you can’t face reality.

~Otonashi Maria

Hmm. Where do I start?

Have you ever read a manga/LN that was so amazing that you were sure it has an anime adaption? Well, this gem of an LN, which is justifiably popular, doesn’t even have a manga adaption. Must be because of some licensing problems, but it makes me really sad nonetheless.

Now that I’ve got that out of my system, let us begin the real discussion.

Utsuro no Hako to Zero no Maria (The Empty Box and Zeroth Maria), also abbreviated as Hakomari, is a series of light novels by Eiji Mikage, with illustrations by Tetsuo. The story is about a student named Kazuki Hoshino, who is really fond of his daily life, and Aya “Maria” Otonashi, who one day transfers into his class and declares her goal to “break” him.

What this simple description doesn’t tell you is… well almost anything. It is a dark, psychological series of epic proportions. Before I read this series, light novels had a different definition for me. No matter how much entertaining/captivating a novel was, it never occurred to me to see them as ‘literature’ (Yes, even after reading Baccano!; you can guess the reason). Well, until this.


It is a series consisting of seven volumes, so I’m afraid it isn’t possible for me to discuss the plot of all of them at length. But what I can do, is give you a glimpse of the first volume, and some hints of the overarching plot.

The first volume, named the ‘Rejecting classroom’, starts with possibly one of the strangest settings ever done in any form of entertainment (Please bear with me, giving any descriptions of it will result in complete ruination of your enjoyment), that will leave you completely baffled. when your brain is trying to comprehend ‘what the hell did I just read’, you are introduced to a typical high school setting, inside a classroom with our protagonist with other characters, all of whom act as a typical SoL comedy troop (if you know what I mean), where a transfer student is “just” introduced (You’ll realize the meaning of the double-quotes later). On the very first encounter with our protagonist, she tells him something strange; “I will break you”. Meanwhile our protagonist also gets some serious déjà vu vibes, calling Aya as ‘Maria’. And the confusion, amidst which you currently find yourself, would not go away completely until the 7th volume.

The plot of the second volume, ‘Sevennight in mud’ is completely different, and just when you thought the author can’t be any more innovative, the next four volumes come in pairs, i.e. the 3rd and 4th volume contains ‘Kingdom Royale’, and next two volume contains ‘Wish-Crushing Cinema’; surprising you at every turn. The final volume is just ‘Final’, and possibly the most heart-wrenching.

This is a story of various characters with various objectives/ambitions, which are often in the realm of fantasy, as is often the case with us too. And it so happens that the main plot device of this series is obtaining the unobtainable.

Yes, I am being purposefully vague, but you know the way of getting the answers to all of your questions.


You might guess that the plot focuses on our two main protagonists, Kazuki and Maria, and you’d be both right and wrong. Yes, they play the two most important roles, but they would have no roles, if there weren’t the “amazing” supporting characters, namely Daiya Oomine, Kokone Kirino, Haruaki Usui, Kasumi Mogi, and last but not the least, “O”.

All along the seven volumes, Kazuki and Maria go through a lot of difficulties, sometimes together, sometimes apart. But wherever they are, they provide us a new concept of longing; a new, often disastrous way of showing love. Their relationship is not like any other couples we’ve ever encountered, and by the time we reach at the end, the conclusion of it comes to us as another surprise.

Even though Hakomari is Kazuki and Maria’s story, after the first volume they rarely come in the front, as most of the time it is a story about consequences; i.e. the actions of others impacting their lives. In fact, no matter how difficult, how bizarre a situation is, the characters react realistically, not in a heroic/foolish way that we’re used to (Well, maybe except Kazuki). That, for me at least, sets this LN apart from other similar works.


Even though it’s not an anime/manga, we have to keep this section, as most LNs depend on the illustrations for more sales. In this case, that department falls on the able hands of the artist Tetsuo (Credited as “415” in the 1st volume). His illustrations are gorgeous, and by giving us a glimpse of what’s to come, they perfectly set the atmosphere.

It’s a shame that we still didn’t get to see the characters in a manga/anime.


You have to admit, there are very few pieces of entertainment that deserve the status that it has reached (looking at… arrgh there are too many), but Hakomari is one of those rare ones, which deserves all the praise it gets, and more.

If you’re yet not convinced about investing in this fairly long piece of work (get it?), here’s another quote, this time from our protagonist Kazuki Hoshino:

“Why not just kill him?”

Or is it?

Ayan Sarkar

Ayan is an exploratory author and fun person in real life (or so we like to think). He can write reviews and cover ups pretty fast, only if he gets the time to do so.