“Honey and Clover” an odd but endearing name for an anime that is a slice of life. Honey and Clover symbolises the bittersweet element of life and undeniably is one of the most relatable anime series for adults. So how do Honey and Clover manage to hit one’s soft spot? Honey and Clover unlock the genuine part of you where you sit back, laugh and maybe even cry your eyes out at the same time. These “soft spots” refer to the core themes of the anime that give both it and life, meaning.
Honey and Clover follows the lives of 5 art college students – Shinobu, Takemoto, Hagumi, Ayumi, and Mayama – struggling and attempting to shape their way of life. Hagumi is a prodigal artist that transfers to an art college with the help of her father’s cousin Shuji, a professor. Thus she walks into the lives of Takemoto, an aimless sweet and slightly under-confident kid, Shinobu, a wild eccentric prodigal artist with surprising maturity, Mayama, the introverted responsible guy who maintains a cool facade, and Ayumi, a loud popular potter who wears her heart on her sleeve. Through college, love triangles and unrequited love, their lives entangle to make some memories they won’t ever forget. Under the guise of comedy, the anime beautifully portrays themes of friendship, ambition, talent, loss, love that is swayed through the unpredictability of life.
The array of friendships portrayed in the anime is not possible to pin down, yet the writing makes evident the beautiful bond of friendship that manifests in different ways with different people. There is friendship with non-platonic love, there is friendship with unrequited love, there is friendship in the events of loss and there is friendship in the face of it all. The anime touches upon the painstaking fact that nothing ever remains the same – no matter how close the friendship is. No matter how much friendship saves us – people go their different ways in life but what one must not forget is, wherever they are, true friends always support you. You can’t choose to be with your friends forever but you can choose to maintain that bond.
The degrees of ambition and the motivation behind them is relatable in the anime. From Hagumi, a talented artist with the immense ambition to Takemoto, who is clueless about what he wants to do, we see their growth in life. Hagumi may be a tiny girl but the imagination and ambition growing in her is huge – you know she’s going places. But just because you have ambition and direction, it doesn’t make life easy. Life happens and everyone struggles. You may not have figured out what you want to do but everyone has a different journey while getting to know themselves. Takemoto’s journey to discover himself and understand his strengths was a slow but fruitful process. On the other hand, Mayama’s ambition to enter Harada Designs is driven by love – in an attempt to help the woman he loves.
One of the most important quotes was said by Shinobu Morita, “It’s absurd to think that your life won’t have any meaning unless you leave some work behind. Just living is enough”. People are in a hurry to do something productive out of their lives to give it meaning but what one must understand is – you influence lives just by living. The memories you make, the things you say, the things you do – all have an impact on this world. The most important factor that this anime puts forth is that sometimes people with talent get places while people who work hard don’t – it’s the hard truth of life. Shinobu has an immense talent which he just wants to have fun whereas Takemoto despite working hard is nowhere near him. This, of course, sprouts jealousy.
Loss is something everyone has to deal with. It may come early in life or later – but it is a constant. Loss in inexplicable yet something that one has to process to get by. Rika loses her husband in an accident and decides to work with his legacy – Harada Designs. Her friendship with Shuji, her best friend, turns toxic because they both face immense loss. Her inability to move forward and find new love is understandable. Mayama’s struggle to help Rika and Rika’s struggle to find a reason to live is a heartbreaking arc yet an important one.
The show has its fair share of love – reciprocated love, unrequited love, and love that takes patience and more. Hagumi and Morita’s love is almost insane and the butt of comedic scenes yet their immense respect and admiration for each other makeup for very tender and touching scenes. Despite their love for each other, which might never change, life always comes in between. Love does not mean holding each other back – it means helping them grow. Ayumi’s love for Mayama and Takemoto’s love for Hagumi are not reciprocated despite them being the extremely kind people. This shows that love doesn’t make sense and one can’t force their feelings. It is what it is.
Although what I’ve touched upon is just an iota of what is shown in the anime but this beautiful masterpiece happens to nail what life is and why we live it.