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Honey & Clover II – Wallowing in the aftermath

It was always going to be one of those dreaded moments when Honey & Clover finally finished up – an empty feeling, my mind swirling in miscellaneous doubt and irritating confusion. What do I watch now?

I had my ups and down with this second season, perhaps borne from episode after episode of frustrating romantic cliff hangers, but sooner or later it will be worth coming back and watching the whole show again, from start until finish — I say "start" and "finish" as if to suggest there is a definite beginning and end to the adventures of Takemoto and his merry band of buddies, that’s wrong, because life goes on, round and round.

If Honey & Clover is the beginning and end of anything, it charts the spark of close friendship, our gradual parting of ways, and the birth of meaningful, affecting memories. I’m glad with how it’s ended — half expecting a sickly Hollywood climax; we’re left instead with the bitter sweet taste of a hopeful future. True to its base human empathy, Honey & Clover ultimately leaves these characters free to chase their dreams and open new chapters of their lives, having lost innocence but gained an important wisdom; basically, all grown up.

At times threatening to become an inverted male harem (with no less than three dashing heroes chasing one fair maiden), Hagu makes the right choice to stick with Shuuji; of all the characters, Shuuji most desperately needed Hagu – the idea of them eventually "hooking up" is more than a little unsettling, but their relationship is more like kindred spirits than any physical attraction. Truly they need each other to survive, while Takemoto and Morita are strong enough to move on — their dreams and ambitions lay elsewhere.

Taken a whole — including the first season, Honey & Clover has been a joy to watch. Symbolic, philosophical and moving, it’s not without faults but that’s not really the point. Watching this show forces me to look within myself, to think about life. You can’t really ask for much more than that, to be engaged on such a personal level is rare indeed and the whimsical Honey & Clover will always have that extra something special.

Honey & Clover II – 7 – Bleeding with a flickering hope in life

As far as hyperbole goes, this was quite possibly my favourite episode of Honey & Clover II. No doubt I could say that after every episode- but this seventh instalment particularly deserves praise for violently jamming the second season in a completely different (and darker) direction.

It’s not that I was getting sick of the likes of Yamada angsting over the same old melodramatic things, instead I’m simply enthused to see an episode more akin to the first season- a somewhat sad story filled with life-affecting, thought provoking symbolism and philosophy.

Tatsuo cuts an absolutely ambiguous character; morally what he does to Tsukasa Morita is wrong, yet his sympathetic envy is so well emphasized through the use of some touching symbolism. His best friend can fly, so why can’t he? What makes him so damn special? As individuals we’re all brought up to feel one of a kind, destined for greatness. But when the harsh reality of life kicks in, and we find ourselves stuck in the shadows of others, how should we react – after all, realising you live a mediocre life sucks.

Typically the ever changing colour scheme and art work for this episode matched the muted, sombre tone with such whimsical aplomb. My favourite scenes included Tatsuou and Kaoru’s walk through an open expanse of beautiful golden fields; such expressive, emotive style bleeding with a flickering hope in life.

Honey & Clover II – First and fleeting impressions

Honey & Clover is said to epitomise the ambiguous “slice of life” genre – a typically slow, ambling style of story telling with no true narrative direction. Indeed, Takemoto’s impulsive journey around Japan is all about finding a definitive meaning to his existence only to discover that ultimately, there is no set path for us all to follow; that life and youth is random and fleeting; about searching and wondering, rather than knowing it all.

If Honey & Clover was thick with such philosophical commentary but lacking in conclusive fulfilment for the viewer, then it’s sequel is the opposite; Honey & Clover II has almost done away this cloud glazing ponderment and locked in on the various love triangles that make up its cast. Now it is very much a case of wondering who will end up with whom and sometimes (and even Mayama admits this) suffers from being bogged down with hammy dialogue and a sickly sweet sentiment.

The truth though is that Honey & Clover (I & II) is surely the essential anime for our generation. In being made now, it has captured and expressed every young adult’s profound worries and nostalgic thoughts about life and love in such a contemporary, trail blazing style. The wistful animation is ultra expressive, fluid and engaging while the longing soundtrack is raging with a burning emotion. This is a great series, that should become one of the greats.