Friday, July 11, 2014

Anime Review "Honey and Clover" by Lady Vader

Honey and Clover is one of those sweet looking shoujo/slice of life anime that looks genuinely good. Was it? Depends on what you'd categorize as good!
An avid reader of all manga I can get my grubby little hands on, I had passed on H+C numerous times because, well, it just didn't seem that interesting (sorry Chika Umino!!). Bored as I was at home one day, I noticed Netflix had nonchalantly recommended several anime to me and clicked play, face down on my bed, eye turned to the screen. In no time flat, I had sat up, and paid attention as the cute Lolita looking Hagu tried to fit in where she could.
The story revolves around Hagumi Hanamoto or "Hagu", a very petite 19-year-old who enters art college for painting. She is quickly befriended by a silver headed nice guy type named Yuta, an unpredictable sculptor named Shinobu, spectacled but serious Takumi, and bombshell ceramicist Ayumi. Each character has their own story of self explorations but my favorite was Ayumi's.
Hagu struggles to fit in at college but her timid and sickly nature make her a bit of an outcast the entire first season with the exception of the aforementioned characters. She struggles with the pressure put on her painting genius by the faculty at college and with the blossoming love coming in from both Yuta and Shinobu. Season One ends with her dealing with an upcoming competition and exhibit while reeling from Yuta's confession (Fuckin' finally. Only took 25 damn episodes). Season Two is a little more of the same but Shinobu also reveals his love for Hagu and she's torn between the two. Unfortunately for Yuta, nice guys always finish last and she returns Shinobu's wacky expressions of love.
Yuta is easily my least favorite character. While he does seem to be the nicest person in this series, he is the one who struggles with finding out he is the most, even going on a 2-3 episode bike trip across Japan. He's also TECHNICALLY the main character but as I stated, he's kinda boring. He almost immediately friend zones himself with Hagu as he acts as her older brother and unfortunately, she sees him as a person of comfort, not someone she can kiss. He ends Season One with confessing his love for Hagu and stares off at some fireworks. Season Two doesn't show much of a difference. He has grown a little more confident but develops a stomach ulcer and has to repeat a year of school. Hagu and he form a steady friendship and he consoles himself that their friendship alone is enough.
Shinobu, whilst unpredictable and the comic relief in the series, kind of lacked depth in Season One. He often floated in and out of the first season which is explained away by a mysterious job that brings him back with loads of cash. Of course it turns out the idiot savant is in fact a very successful CGI artist in America and wins an Oscar for his work with a parody of George Lucas. He immediately falls in love with the tiny Hagu but shows it by harassing her. We learn along the way that he's been in college for 8 years and hasn't graduated for different reasons. Season Two shows him maturing quite a bit and returns Hagu's declaration of love.

Takumi is a quiet kind of guy. He's no-nonsense, knows what he likes, and is kind. He is in the background most of Season One before they finally devote some episodes to the poor guy. He graduates midway through and gets a job with a small architect firm and promptly falls in love with is boss, a troubled woman named Rika. Their story is a tangled one, further complicated by the never quite spoken feelings of Ayumi. They are childhood friends and while he is very aware of the love Ayumi has for him, he hopes she never confesses for fear of hurting her as he loves Rika a bit more. He spends most of the time trying to convince Rika to be with him while maintaining friendships with the others, balancing work in between. Season Two is a bit more of the same but again, more complications arise when Ayumi is hired on by Rika who is unaware of Ayumi's feelings.
Ayumi is the beautiful and talented potter with the nickname "Iron Lady" given due to her violent nature and intensity. She has the attention of all the males in her vicinity but chose to fall in love with Takumi. I was drawn to her unrequited love triangle BUT I kept getting extremely annoyed the more and more she followed around her love interest like a puppy dog. I hoped and hoped there would be a love interest worth her time but alas, there wasn't. I'm now kind of wondering why I liked her so much! Season One saw her graduate as well but she stayed on at the college as an assistant before getting hired on by Takumi's on/off girlfriend Rika at her architect firm. Why would a potter be employed there? No idea.
I am unaware in how well the anime followed the manga and whilst my semi horrid descriptions may put you off on watching it, it was charming. It had a lot of hilarity, especially in the first half of season one and two. I AM very interested in watching the live action AND the Japanese live action drama as those sometimes add enough story to be completely different. Plus, I have a hugely massive lust/crush for Toma Ikuta. Sue me.
The opening songs are cute but the animations are bizarre and have nothing to do with the anime itself which threw me for a loop. As a frequent downloader of anime OSTs, I found myself veering away from them just because of the imagery burned into my retina. All in all, Honey and Clover is worth a watch. Just one. That should certainly be enough! - Lady Vader