The entirety of Honey and Clover can be summed up as this: Guy A loves Girl B who loves Guy C who loves Girl D who loves Guy E who loves Girl F and so on.
We know love triangles. Some of us love them. But when the triangle becomes a dodecahedron it become unfeasible.
Honey and Clover follows a small group of artists as they go through college and a little beyond. In many ways it is a coming-of-age / slice-of-life with a more melancholy note. All of the characters love someone and are loved by someone, but no two people seem to love each other. It’s a developed study on unrequited love, and it romanticizes the notion as an ideal.
One of the true problems with this is that the show spans many years in the character’s lives, and during that time there is little to no change or development in their feelings. Personally, I would rather accept a rejection and look for someone else to love. But these characters all devote years of their young adult lives to their one-sided feelings. I find this to be entirely unrealistic, as eventually 18 -24 year olds in an art school would find someone to date, and the ones who didn’t would be the exception and not the norm. The story has other side plots and twists, and it tries to lighten the mood with standard anime shenanigans and silliness. But at its core this anime is about unrequited love, and all the different ways it can make us miserable.
I do have to give it a nod in one sense, the dialogue is written quite well. Even though the plot is weak, repetitive and unbelievable, the presentation is eloquent. I even found my sappy-self tear up once or twice when scenes were particularly poignant. It’s an odd contradiction, but it happens. Many a great plot has been destroyed by cheesy dialogue, and many a great script has been ruined for lack of plot. Honey and Clover is the latter.
On a basic, general level, the animation can be seen as quite pretty. Certain effects, especially when we’re focusing on the student’s art, are downright shiny. But when it comes to emotional expressions, I feel like the show steps significantly backwards. Characters blush, A LOT, and when they do it’s shown as a red scribble line across their cheeks. We also get a lot of your standard flowery backdrop scenes with characters drawn in extreme emotions of some sort, and for some reason when that happens they lose a lot of their face. Seriously, whenever they are angry, sad or euphoric, the characters no longer have a nose or shading, and their mouth becomes a simple shape reminiscent of cartoons from 40 years back. I know a lot of anime go for a style similar to this, but in Honey and Clover it is over-done and lazy.
Have you ever seen Excel Saga? Do you remember the scenes when Excel would run down the street singing some inane optimistic gibberish in a grating and obnoxious voice? I found the opening theme for this show to be a lot like that. Needless to say, I fast forwarded through every opening.
The ending theme is much more tolerable, but it’s nothing above and beyond the standard sentimental music you come to expect from such things. I’m pretty sure the soundtrack used as background was the same, but I honestly can’t remember anything distinctive about it.
The characters are the plot. So really, everything I said in the story section applies here.
I will add this though; there were characters I really really wanted to like, but couldn’t. When a character keeps shamelessly throwing themselves at one person in all the humiliating fashions these characters do, it’s hard to feel empathetic. In some cases, I felt like the character should have been above that, but was being demeaned for the sake of the plot.
Whatever. My dead horse is now glue.
Really, I just didn’t like it. It wasn’t the worst anime ever. It wasn’t the worst anything. I just didn’t find it to be as compelling or romantic as other people have. I wrote this review mainly to provide another perspective, since I know that this is a popular series and it does appeal to certain people. But if you, like me, feel that unproductive and blind devotion is NOT a romantic ideal, then hopefully I have succeeded in warning you.
Story: A slice of life kind of anime without a set plot where we follow the lives of three roommates who are in college and trying to find purpose in their lives. That's the basic gist of the anime and yet the story manages to add so much depth, humor, and reality into it at such a well pace that I was hooked from beginning to end without getting bored. The odd, random, and absolutely wonderful humor balanced out the rather heavy drama stemming from the plethora of intertwining love triangles and trying to find a job and goal in life. The anime is so realistic and well-paced that I can't help but feel for all the characters except maybe Shinobu but he remains an enigma, switching from being deep to ridiculous continuously. Despite the realism, just when I thought I knew what would happen, the characters would surprise me with their unexpected but understandable decisions. They're just trying to get through college and adult life as well as they can while dealing with the pains of uncertainty and love. The anime takes the simple slice-of-life genre and creates a well-paced, deep, heartwarming, unpredictable, and unforgettable story that truly stands out and left me satisfied with a bittersweet, open ending that wasn't a perfect ending for everyone but a happy/sweet ending nonetheless that answers some questions while still leaving itself open to a 2nd season.
Animation: Absolutely beautiful. Just what to expect from J.C. Staff. The art is subdued, not particulary vibrant, but rich in color and slightly toned down. The rich, pastel colors add to the rather down-to-earth feel the anime has and makes the anime seem more realistic. The animation of the people is done wonderfully. Everyone looks distince and the art style is rather unique. I haven't quite seen character designs like these, well at least for the females. The expressions are done so well with pain or happiness being conveyed merely through facial expressions or through the eyes. There is also such attention to detail such as turning on a blinker when a character makes a turn, the lingering of the camera on a four-leaf clover, the way the wind blows in the characters hair and clothes, or even the way it repeats the images of a bike wheel/ferris wheel to make a point of how the characters feel. It really makes the viewer connect to the characters and relate to their internal battles.
Sound: Again, absolutely beautiful. It is so soft and rich sounding with nothing to dramatic and really "loud" which suites the anime perfectly. Suga Shikao's songs perfectly add to the mood and add another layer to the scene while the scores are all memorable, adding dpeth to the scene and heightening the emotion that are spilling forth from the characters. I just had to go listen to the entire soundtrack and realized I adored every piece which means I need to go and buy it. The music is just so unique and each selection stands out to me. So not only did they all manage to add to the scene, it made me want to know what each was called so I get the song. The opening and both endings really convey the message of the anime nicely though the 2nd ending was not nearly as catchy and sweet as the 1st.
The VAs really added depth to the characters, expressing their emotions with such depth that I truly felt for each character and each and every one of them stood out.
Characters: A unique and wonderful cast that is filled with depth, humor, and quirks. Each character is suffering yet smile through their pain and uncertainty in life and continue with lives on a day-to-day basis. Yuta is trying to find a job while realizing that he is in love. He fears rejection and tries to sort through the uncertainties of his future the best he can in a realistic manner though comes to an unforeseen action towards the end of the anime. He cares about his roommates and tries his best to help them though it is definitely not easy. Shinobu's life is a mysterty to all and I still don't know what his job is or what goes through his mind but he adds plenty of comedy to the group. Ayumi struggles through her one-sided love and I can't help but hope for a happy ending for her as she tries to strive forward. Hagu is just so cute and acts like such an adorable child yet she is so mature in her way of thinking and understanding situation sometimes. Each character seems like a cliche at first glance but all of them develop so wonderfully throughout the anime and solidify their unique personalities with their reasonable flaws that make them so easy to relate to during the beginning of the anime so we care about their problems and want to see them find happiness. One of my top casts in an anime.
Overall: A refreshingly unique take on a slice-of-life where all the characters grow and mature in a realistic pace while keeping true to themselves. The question "How far can I travel without looking back?" is continually referred to and showcases how each of them strives forward yet still cling to the past letting it hold them back or allowing them to go forth. The anime was amazing from start to finish. I highly recommend this to everyone who is at least a young teenager regardless of gender. It is one where most people can find something to relate to and one that is truly unforgettable.
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This is a review of both seasons of Honey and Clover.
*HaC is an anime about romance and personal growth. And romance combined with coming of age is a combination that I can appreciate. And definitely when it’s done like this. I dare to say that HaC is one of the most mature anime’s that I have seen till today. Most anime’s I wouldn’t really recommend to “adults” but this one I do. First the romance is very mature and it’s even more about neglected love than actual love. So if you really like shoujo romance, HaC might not be for you. But if you like very mature romance, it definitely is.
And on top of the romance, the arc about Takemoto at the end of the first season explodes of the coming of age in it. That arc is purely about Takemoto being at a crucial crossroad in his life and his search for what he wants to do with it. And I found that to be very well done and very relatable since everybody passes through such a period in life.
*Now HaC isn’t serious all the time, it contains a large part of comedy as well. And I found that the balance between comedy and drama was very good in this anime. Very serious scenes were alternated with very “stupid”, comical scenes. And this anime needed that otherwise it would have been too serious and depressing to be fun. Now if you will like the comedy will depend on your taste since it was pretty stupid sometimes but it was definitely needed.
*And a last positive point was the large amount of insert songs in HaC. I can’t really remember how many there were since it has been several months since I actually watched HaC. But I can remember that it had a lot of them, almost 1 per episode. And I like lots of insert songs. Anime’s like Hai to Gensou no Grimgar and ReLIFE which have lots of insert songs get that bit more appreciation from me for all the effort that the studio put into making them.
*Now my biggest problem that I had with HaC was that the different storylines seemed very separated from each other, they were too separated. I like coexistence between stories in an anime. With that I mean that the different storylines are happening all at the same time and that we get constant development on all of them throughout the anime. Here in HaC, it’s really in blocks. Than we get some episodes revolving around Takemoto and Hagumi followed by episodes focussing on Mayama and Yamada, than the arc about Takemoto’s coming of age. It was too rigid, it would have been better if the stories were more intertwined and flowed through each other.
*Another problem that I had, I could still remember that from the first time that I watched HaC, were the intros of both seasons. What were they smoking when they made those, it’s just so weird. I fail to see what these openings have to do with the actual anime.
*And a final negative point came at the end of the anime. Now I’m not going to tell what happens of course but boy are there discussions about it. When I finished HaC, also I had big questions about what happened in those final episodes. After reading this article on altairandvega.net, I looked at the end with different eyes. I’m still not completely comfortable with it and its pretty sad but now I understand what the writhers wanted to show us with that ending.
So as a conclusion, HaC had its good points with its perfect drama/comedy balance and very mature coming of age. But unfortunately the absence of coexistence between the different stories and the unusual ending made that some of the good points weren’t exploited to their fullest potential. And that’s why I’m going to rate Honey and Clover at 3,5 stars. I recommend this anime if you’re really into josei anime, for me this was a first. But this is an anime that even adults and non anime fans would enjoy because of the concept of the story.
This review is for both seasons of Honey and Clover.
It's an anime that rates very highly in my personal ranking and that I would definetely recommend to anybody who is interested in the romance / slice of life genres - but not just that, if you're simply looking for a very well-written anime with good character development that manages also to alternate funny, comedic moments with more dramatic, tear-wrenching ones, Honey and Clover is most definetely not a waste of time. It's got a bitter-sweet ending which leaves you kind of crying and smiling at the same time, but optimistic and hopeful that life - all things considered - does have a meaning in the end and is worth living. The first season is more comedic and light than the second one, but really you have to watch both as the second series completes the story with an ending that although not entirely forseeable - at least it wasn't to me - does nonetheless make perfectly sense.
As for the story, it's set in an art college and it revolves around the lives of a group of 5 students and their sensei. Love is the main theme, but also - and not less importantly - becoming adults, the coming of age process with all its questions related to understanding who you really are and what you want to do with your life, and of course ultimately the meaning of life itself. And as we are following a group of 6 people as they interact, grow up, become adults and take responsibility for their lives, another theme that is always present is friendship. Especially the first season does seem a bit the narration of a magnified love triangle where A is in love with B who is in love with C and so on - even so it's not bad, but it gets way better and more meaningful in the second season.
The characters are well-portrayed and the character development is great. I must say that for all of the first season and part of the second I was vaguely annoyed by the two main protagonists, Hagu-chan and Takemoto. The other characters seemed way more interesting, there seemed nothing worth mentioning about Hagu apart from her excessive cuteness - she starts out as childish and shallow at times. And Takemoto, too, doesn't stand out at all if compared to Mayama or Morita. But all of the characters develop nicely and in an extremely believable way. You just have to wait a little bit for Hagu and Takemoto to do it - I guess the same could be said for Morita.
The animation style is different from the usual style, the colour palette uses mainly soft pastel colours and the characters and drawings sometimes look like sketches - but it's not detrimental at all, it does instead work perfectly well. No complaints about the sound either, opening and ending songs are kind of catchy, the background music blends with and highlights the story and the voice acting is good.
Overall, it's a really good anime. It's not an unforgettable story, but I do recommend it.
i'm not sure how i would rate this anime. i did like it- it was very unique to me. but it didn't tie things together very well- which may have been the point because of this- this anime to me was a very realistic depiction of what adult life love and connection is like. it is not all happily ever afters and if you try hard enough everything will come together, the answers will come in time... it's about just getting in there and getting your hands dirty and trying to figure it out with no guarantees- all of it. life and meaning and love and what to do with all of it. this anime doesn't give you many answers. it only makes encourages you to keep going because the journey is very important. however, it is not always glamorous and tearjerking like in a movie. sometimes the person you love, no matter how long you keep at it and how dedicated you are to them, will not ever love you back. and sometimes we don't quietly accept this and move on- we might get drunk and cry in front of them over and over, cling to them in the daylight and make a fool of ourselves, it's uncool and it's foolish and desperate and awful. sometimes at the end of a long expensive college journey we still have no idea what we want to do, and even after taking a soul-searching journey across the country we still come up with no answers. and sometimes love is so rattling that we'd rather settle than struggle with passion. life is messy. so is this anime. i've never watched an anime that leaves so many loose ends and that has so many profound musings about life and adulthood that will suprise you because you always noticed this or that but no one else had ever said it out loud so you brushed it away. It puts into words, very beautiful ones, a lot of lifes really awkward and unpoetic feautures and makes them into lyrics. i really enjoyed the dialouge of the fan subs, they made me think deeply about my own life and the people around me, trying to draw parallels and asking myself if this or that was what was troubling me so, the things I could never put a name to.
Being a critic, I thought some of it was repetitive, the same things happened over and over in a different setting between the characters. the interpersonal relationships were very complicated and many things were never addressed by the end which as I said may have been the point- that things in life rarely wrap up nicely. I enjoyed the soundtrack and hagu as a character- her voice was quite soothing and she was very uniquely beautiful.