2009 TV Series (episodes 1-13). Director: Kenishi Kasai. 300 minutes. DVD, bilingual, $59.90. Distributor: Viz Media.
Starving students. It’s a familiar phrase, whether you see it on the side of moving trucks, or actual university students pooling money for what should be an overplayed, mundane pizza, beer, and dorm room dinner – yet it’s always paradoxically new. For the cast of Honey and Clover, their hunger pains rumble not for a simple taste of Kobe beef, but life itself.
The much beloved Honey and Clover is the story of Takemoto, Mayama, Morita, Hagu, Ayumi and their transition from art school to post graduate, adult life. I say much beloved because this manga and anime series is immensely popular in Japan. The manga, created by Chica Umino, won the Kodansha Manga Award, and then sparked not only an anime series, but also a live-action feature film and dramatic television show.
Simply put, the story revolves around a set of love triangles involving this quintet. Undeclared Takemoto and the crazed-genius Morita are attracted to the young prodigy Hagu. The long legged ceramicist Auymi loves burgeoning architect Mayama. But he is in love with his boss Rika. And they are all connected together by their love for Professor Hanamoto. Will anything come of these relationships? So the story goes.
But don’t be fooled by such a simplistic, underlying plot structure. These triangles may be the larger arc driving this series, but Honey and Clover is essentially about the transitional period between teenage and adult life. It’s that limbo in which various people enter and leave your life as if it were a revolving door. Emotions are always high and lingering on the fingertips. And then years down the road, when the quotidian is predictable, and when the emotions aren’t as easily stirred by an unexpected conversation, or the accidental brush of an attractive hand, it all seems like a wonderful fiction.
And so, a large supporting cast emerges to enrich and complicate the existence of our lovelorn protagonists. Much like a good novel, their individual personae induce revealing vignettes that give them human depth, and ultimately make you rather fond of and concerned for their lives. Don’t be surprised if you’re reminded why soaps and mini-series once ruled television, long before the scripted antics and human litters of contemporary reality T.V.
Nostalgic. Yes. Melodramatic. A little. Yet, admittedly, Honey and Clover reached down my throat and strummed my nostalgic, nay chick-flick, vein. Yes, I too have been overrun by the forces of Honey and Clover. I too want to know what ultimately happens to Takemoto, Mayama Morita, Hagu, and Ayumi.
Sweet, depressing, funny, and unexpectedly real. That is Honey and Clover.