Takemoto Yuuta, Mayama Takumi, and Morita Shinobu are college students who share the small apartment. Even though they live in poverty, the three of them are able to obtain pleasure through small things in life. The story follows these characters' life stories as poor college students, as well as their love lives when a short but talented 18 year old girl called Hanamoto Hagumi appears.
For many of us who watch anime, the medium can become something more than simply animated entertainment. Sometimes, we will find ourselves connecting on a deep emotional level with a character or characters in a show. Sometimes, the story will seem less like a fanciful escape and more like a reflection upon society or our individual lives. These are the kind of shows stick with us. They'll make us laugh, they'll make us cry, and sometimes they'll make us realize something new about ourselves. Honey and Clover is one of those kind of anime.
Based on the manga by Chika Umino, Honey and Clover follows the lives of five fledgling artists and their journey through the exciting and simultaneously terrifying world that we know as college. Through the eyes of these five students and observe them them growing, affected by the years of challenging experiences through which they have gained many cherished friendships and also come to know the agonies of unrequited love.
One of the most noticeable aspects of the series is the animation. The bold, hard lined style you see in most anime will not be found here. Instead, animation studio J.C. Staff takes a wholly different approach by using a faded watercolor palette and soft sketched character designs. The style may not appeal to everyone, but it best reflects the true nature of the characters and their setting. Aside from the color palette, the animation goes through various perspective changes so subtly that it can even make the simple shot of a single character interesting. In essence, it is like art in motion.
Naturally, the audio needs to work hand in hand with the visuals and Honey and Clover has quite a robust soundtrack. Many of the insert selections worked well to heighten and sharpen the on-screen emotions. However, not all of the songs fit each scene like a glove and at times it felt like maybe there might even be too many songs they had tried to fit in. Despite that complaint, the songs themselves were all very good, even the instrumental tracks, and “Waltz” may hands-down be one of the best ending themes of any anime ever.
One aspect that may be universally agreed upon about this series is that the characters definitely make the show. Honey and Clover, like many other slice-of-life series, falls back on the characters to help carry the series and all five of the main characters do so phenomenally. Throughout the series, the perspective changes so that we see, hear, think, and occasionally feel what any given character is going through at that time. Depending on a viewer’s past experiences in college or even just life in general, certain characters will become more appealing and easier to relate to than others. Someone who has never been torn between someone they love and a close friend who loves them will have a hard time relating to a character like Mayama. Also, while a character like Takemoto may be more accessible to the male audience, Ayumi may be a better focal point for women.
The most important thing to realize is that just about anyone who watches this show will find a character who they can directly relate to in some way or another. From Takemoto’s indecisiveness about his own life, Morita’s slacker appeal and almost unfair success, Hagumi’s torn desire between being a success she’s not proud of or a failure she can live with. These are not just character struggles, these are struggles we all go through and we begin to see these characters as our friends and companions as we make our way through our own ordeals.
As said already, Honey and Clover is a slice-of-life series, which means it could take place anywhere at anytime with anyone inside the world as already is. It is a balanced and yet lively blend of romance, drama, and comedy without going too overboard on any single element, much like life itself. The story moves forward very quickly, skipping weeks, even months at a time between episodes. This could be viewed as slightly unrealistic as viewers may believe the characters should change faster than they do. Regardless, the character development is there, and does proceed at a realistic pace relative to the length of the series. Though the ending is inconclusive, those who enjoyed it to the end can take solace in knowing a conclusive second season awaits them to tie up all the loose ends.
Much like how Azumanga Daioh is called “the anime you should watch if you’ve been through high school”, Honey and Clover is the anime to watch if you’ve been through college. Graduates who watch this will probably feel a good amount of nostalgia. At the same time, those of us who haven’t been through college or are still going through it will enjoy a realistic simulation of where we might be going and how we might deal with it. By empathizing with the characters and relating to them, you’ll come to see Honey and Clover as more than an anime; It's a life experience.
This review is the final result of a review team composed of members from the "Critics and Connoisseurs" club. The team members were:
Katsup - Contributed to and edited the review
Splitter - Wrote the review
Here are their individual scorings for the show:
Category - Katsup, Splitter
Story - 9, 9
Art - 10, 9
Sound - 9, 8
Character - 10, 10
Enjoyment - 10, 9
Overall - 10, 9
In the club wide poll held for Honey and Clover it received an average overall rating of 9.00read more
Ever get that nice feeling after you finished watching a really good series? That’s how I felt when I finished watching Honey and Clover.
What a wonderful story. It’s a good mix of bittersweet growing pains, salty teardrops, and huge doses of soul searching, all brought about by Love. Ah yes, Love. That is what defines the plot of Honey and Clover. Through this anime, we see how love can go both ways – it can send you flying in the sky, or it can leave you with a knife in the back.
I can relate to mostly everyone in the story, and this is also why it was so easy to understand for me. Yamada’s frustration over unrequited love, Takemoto’s fear of the future and time quickly passing by (believe me, time in this anime is fast-paced), Hagu’s feelings of pressure from everyone around her, and of course, the loneliness that everyone felt from time to time. The ability to relate to each and every one of the characters made Honey and Clover such a good watch for me, and I’m sure it will be the same for everyone who will watch this series.
Despite the serious tones, there are still moments that are quite funny. Most of the comedic relief comes from Morita, who is actually one of my favorite characters. His idiosyncrasies are what made him great to watch. I love that scene where he accepted the Mochademy Award (A nod to the Academy awards) for best CG. There was also this great episode where Morita and Takemoto played some sort of twister game until their limbs were intertwined. Of course, you can’t forget chapters L and F which were both funny as well.
I liked most of the characters because they were all so relatable and they were all managed effectively. At the end of the series, you know everything that goes/went on behind their facades. They all had well thought of histories and wonderful unique personalities that go so well together. It’s almost like an anime version of FRIENDS. I already mentioned that I like Morita, but my other favorite is Mayama. I kinda developed a crush on him too; I actually see what Yamada sees in him. I was kind of annoyed that he picked that old hag Rika over Yamada. I really hate that woman; she’s only out to hurt Mayama. I’m definitely on team Ayumi “Tetsujin” Yamada (Even though she tends to ramble on a lot)!
Drawing style was something new. It reminded me of old school anime with a new twist. It had the same look and feel of 80s anime with except it was updated and fresh. It was probably because of the coloring technique - the colors were just lovely, they weren’t vibrant, like how I usually would like colors to be, but they were done well and the colors didn’t clash, so I actually liked it. It reminded me of water color paintings, a trend I noticed from watching JC Staff series. Usually the illustrations are done well, they barely change or if there are any changes it goes unnoticed. Although I did notice a huge shift in Hagu’s appearance – She was a lot prettier in the first episode compared to the rest of the series. Her look was done well though – she had beautiful eyes and hair (same thing with Yamada).
There were different animation techniques that were used. I like the use of stop motion, I’m guessing the first opening theme sequence was made using stop motion and clay figures. There was also the use of live action, which was for the second opening theme sequence (The poodle was just adorable). Some scenes had a more weathered look, and there was even an instance were vector art was used. Of course, there was the use of CG. CG is always good if it’s used to give depth to animation.
Voice acting was actually pretty good. My favorite seiyu for this series is Tomokazu Sugita, Mayama’s seiyu, who was also the seiyu for Kyon from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, another favorite of mine. I also like Morita’s seiyu, Yuji Ueda. I think it’s funny when his voice turns soft. The other seiyus, such as Keiji Fujiwara and Mikako Takahashi were already familiar to me, since I’ve watched/currently series they worked for before, and what they did for Honey and Clover were splendid as well, but as for Hagu’s seiyu, I’m a bit indifferent. Based on the information I saw about her, she seems to be a newbie (I think she’s only 18) and Hagu Hanamoto is probably her most notable role. Anyway, everyone did a good job because they brought out their character’s personalities really well, and the dialogues were easy to follow.
I’m surprised that most of Yuzo Hayashi’s work was for Sailormoon. I actually thought the music for this anime was done well – everything was modern and contemporary. I like the wide variety of insert songs that were used as BGM, and of course, the opening and ending themes weren’t bad either. At the end of the series I found myself humming and bopping my head to the catchy music of the series.
Thank goodness for the second season, plus the extra two episodes. If it weren’t for that, I Probably would be close to tears by now. This is undeniably one of the best series (Thank God to no fan service!) I’ve ever watched, and will watch again.read more
Almost everything about Honey and Clover is unprecedented and perfected. From the unnerving OP to the moving ending narration, each episode is a dramatic and romantic take on the special lives of the six main characters. There is no action and there is no fanservice so the stereotyped teenage male audiences will avoid this series, however, the intelligent humor and very intricate intricate character development which dominates the show is sure to satisfy most mature fans who are sick of slapstick, perverted anime. At times it does get very similar to American soapies but I believe that Honey and Clover outdoes any love triangle stories. Each character goes through their frustrating situations, which don't seem to conclude detailed enough. The angelic Hagumi tackles her self-esteem issues, Mayama chases after Rika who is still mourning over her late boyfriend, Ayumi fights her depression after being repetitively rejected by Mayama, Morita (who provides for some of the best comedy I've seen in anime) tries to deal with his own expectations of life, Shuuji devotes himself religiously to the welfare of Hagu, and Takemoto attempts to escape out of the banal life ahead of him. These complex characters see the most impressive explorations of life, romance and personal fears. At times there is some repetition in the plot and it may seem a bit predictable, but there really is no competition for the best josei anime around. Recommended to anyone who wants to experience the reality of love or to be inspired and have a little cry at the end. Top notch anime 5 stars.read more
Manga, Live-Action Adaptations, Anime: Honey and Clover was originally a manga created by Chika Umino. It began its run in Sueisha's CUTiEcomic maganize in June of 2000, and swithced over to Young YOU in July of 2001, and ran there until the magazine's demise in 2005, and finished up its run in Chorus in July 2006. The manga stands at ten collected volumes, and has been licensed Stateside by Viz's Shoujo Beat label; the first volume will be released on March 8th of this year. Honey and Clover also won the Kodansha Manga Award for best shoujo manga in 2003.
Honey and Clover also has two live-action adaptations to its name. The first is a live-action movie adaptation that was released on July 22nd, 2006 in Japanese theatres. The second is a live-action TV drama that started airing on January 8th of this year. Neither has been licensed Stateside, and neither will be covered in this review.
The anime adaptation was 24 episodes long, and was produced by JC Staff (famous for their work on Revolutionary Girl Utena and Excel Saga) and directed by Kenichi Kasai (famous for his work on Nodame Canabile). It ran on Japanese TV from April 14th to September 25th, 2005. It has yet to be licensed Stateside.
Story: Honey and Clover follows the lives and relationships of five college students -- Mayama, Takemoto, Morita, Hagu, and Ayu over a period of about five years.
It was really hard for me to get into this at first. For the first four episodes, I liked what I was watching, but I didn't really feel the pressing need to see what happened next. However, this changed in the next few episodes, mainly because everything had been more or less established, and they started developing things.
Those of you who are in college and watching this are going to be stunned at the realism of this. It feels like these characters could very well be people around you, and the situations they're in could be things you or your friends are going through at the moment.
Yeah, there's no overlying plot. However, unlike KamiChu, this isn't a problem, mainly because the characters and their relationships are developed well and are the actual center of the story, not driven by some cardboard cutouts and a crappy problem-of-the-week plot. Also, there's a lot of fairly obvious metaphors and some crazy-ass humor that make the show even better. ^^
And there are going to be some who are depressed at the rather open ending. However, there is the second season (Honey and Clover II), which I'm going to be starting shortly and will eventually review.
Art: Absofuckinglutely beautiful.
The background is done in what looks like watercolors, so it's kind of hazy and washed-out, similar to what you see in Potemayo's backgrounds. The character designs are a blend between the typical anime design and a more manga-esque look. They also have the budget to change clothes at least once every episode. SD is very common when tied in with the crazy-ass humor, which is just made of WIN.
All of this combined serves to make an absolutely beautiful series. It's up there with Gankutsuou's visuals, but not quite that extreme.
My only complaint is w/r/t Hagu's character design. Yes, I know that you want to emphasize that she's a bit sheltered and innocent, but really, she looks like my youngest sister, and you're trying to pass her off as 20? Work on that for next season, plz.
Music: Honey and Clover's background music is a little odd, but it's amazing at the same time, because they use vocals in a way that I've only heard Bobby McFerrin attempt up till now. There's also a piano version of either the OP or ED that plays a lot in the series, and is just beautiful.
Honey and Clover also uses a lot of insert songs; there's at least one every episode, and they're perfectly fitted to the moments that they're played in.
The OP is just annoying. I mean, the animation for the first version was absolutely amazing (food + claymation = AWESOME), but the vocalist is kind of shrill, and makes me cringe. The EDs didn't particularly stand out, but they were nice.
Seiyuu: Morita's seiyuu played Takeshi (Brock, for us Americans) in all the seasons of Pokemon, and Hakim in Victorian Romance Emma and Shuuji's seiyu was in Kashimashi ~Girl Meets Girl~ and in FFVII: Advent Children as Reno, which was fairly awesome.
And all the other seiyuu did an excellent job, as ever.
Length: Twenty-four episodes was a good length; the manga material does go further, and I guarantee that by the time you're finished, you will want more, but the second season should cover that.
Overall: A beautiful, realistic slice of college life with excellent music and some fairly good seiyuu.
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