The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Honey and Clover

Title: Honey and Clover aka Hachimitsu to Clover aka HachiKuro
Genre: Drama/Comedy
Company: GENCO/J.C. Staff
Format: 24 episodes
Dates: 14 Apr 2005 – 26 Sep 2005

Synopsis: An art major with a passive view of life, Yuuta Takemoto spends his college days aimlessly looking for his true calling. Together with a mature Senior, Takumi Mayama, and a greedy, hyper ball of energy, Shinobu Morita, they go through the toils and small pleasures of their impoverished student lives. Yet, nothing truly manages to break through Takemoto’s barrier until he meets a talented 18 year old girl. Upon seeing Hagumi Hanamoto, the young Yuuta begins to see the world in the lonely but bright colors of love.

The Highlights
Emotionally rich, complex and believable.
Romance: Beautifully painted with a brush of authenticity.
Animation: Soft and visually pleasing.
Ending: Unsatisfactory but complete nonetheless.

Very few producers can turn a generic college romance anime into a lovable series full of quirky and unforgettable characters. One thing is for certain: the casting for the project is definitely a major factor. From scriptwriters to the voice actors, Honey and Clover is a titanic marriage of skills. Everything from the direction to the voice acting is finely tuned, and the final product is nothing short of a genuine labor of love.

While the overall quality is subjective, the aesthetics are a real treat to the senses. The voice acting is believable, and never requires a suspension of disbelief. The light piano based music contrasts well with the realistic drama, and the various J-pop pieces give the series a firm push in the right direction. The animation is very pastel in nature and when played out in tandem with the delicate music comes across in an ephemeral, dreamlike manner. Ironically, the soft character designs mute the visceral emotions that these people contain.

Hands down, the greatest attribute of Honey and Clover is its intricate character chemistry. While there is no distinct plot, the cast carries the full weight of the series and runs with it. Unlike many other anime, not a single major character is wasted as an obtrusive cliché. Everyone is intelligent, calculating and fettered by their emotions. The dark loneliness, the irrational fears, the heart-wrenching longing, they all are vividly painted through the character’s silent screams towards their unrequited loves.

Honey and Clover isn’t as much about romance as it is about dealing with rejection, and the fear of rejection. The cast have real personalities, affected and often hindered by real emotions. To keep this show from being an angst-filled melodrama, the series keeps the raging emotions suppressed and maintains a cheerful atmosphere lightly layered with melancholic brooding. Despite strenuous circumstances, the characters maintain their sense of humor and refuse to relinquish their bright smiles. The memories created from the small interactions with true friends and the flickering ray of hope that accompanies each new day are what drives these characters to chase after their seemingly hopeless love.

Honey and Clover does a brilliant job depicting daily life without making it boring. However, since the series is essentially just a prolonged stay with a group of friends, the audience does not get to see the fruition of all of the conflicts. Much like real life, very few things are cast in stone. With a relatively open ending, the audience is left insatiably wanting more. By the end of the series, it is hard not to relate with at least one character. It wouldn’t be surprising if you relate with all of them; they are just that human.

The Rating: 9

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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