I just finished the Honey and Clover manga. I've been in love with the series since I first saw some episodes of the anime on-demand a while ago. The characters are realistic, the art is beautiful, and the story is interesting. I loved watching it and reading it.
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE END OF THE SERIES AHEAD
However, the ending was . . . I don't even know what to say about it. I can't say that it was a bad ending. Really, I value Umino as an artist. It would have been easy to make it a very happy ending, where love flourishes and all loose ends are tied up nicely, and it took guts to end it the way she did. The ending is natural and heartfelt. Love doesn't go the way you want it to, and sometimes, no matter how hard you work or how strongly you feel, things simply will not work out in a way that will make you happy. That's life.
Still, I couldn't smile at the ending. I feel like the only people who are happy, who could possibly be happy, are Ayu and Nomiya, and even they have a lot to work on. (Maybe Mayama and Rika, but who knows what's going through her head when it comes to Mayama.) But that's the thing - it's open-ended. Everybody could find love in the future. They could create their own lives, away from the college, and their stories could all be happy and full of joy. But you don't know. In that way, it's just like life. In five years, I could be married and with a kid on the way, or I could be single and in debt and have a menial job. That's scary, and because that's scary, the ending is scary, too. You don't know if these characters will ever find love or happiness. They might, but they might not. There aren't even many positive points to focus on. But again, that's what makes this a real work of art. Most manga series have clear happy endings. If everybody isn't with their obvious partner, it's made certain that the potential still exists for them to be happy. How many mangas end with someone being alone but suddenly! there is an attractive person across from them on the train. Oh, they'll be happy, after all. H&C doesn't do that. All of the characters are embarking on their new lives, and we don't know if things will work out for them. We don't have any clue whatsoever.
So, I can't say that I enjoyed the ending, but I did respect it. And the series, as a whole, is something I can suggest to others. It's well worth reading, even if it doesn't provide the happy ending people may want.
Also, what was the deal with Shu loving Hagu? Was that in a romantic way? It's like (that certain series where a man raises a young girl) all over again! I don't care how "romantic" it may seem - if you as an adult change someone's sheets because they as a child wet they bed, you should not be able to fall in love with them! It's not about the age gap, it's about the parental bond that exists between the two people. It's just . . . ugh, nasty to think about, for lack of a better way to say it. It'd be like marrying your mom or dad. Ugh.
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