Honey and Clover Complete Collection Review
Im pretty sure most of my regular readers(love you guys) know at this point that I am a huge romance junkie, but not any kind of romance I like the realistic down to earth, painful kind of romance and we all know that the only place to get that kind of romance is in a certain anime genre known as Josei. The bar for romance in anime for me has been set by Toradora! for the past 5 years or so, So does Honey and Clover have what it takes to equal that bar or maybe even surpass it?
Honey and Clover has a simple premise, its a slice of life, coming of age, romance story about a college aged boy named Yuta Takemoto. Yuta is a bright young lad with moderate dreams of becoming successful in life and just like any kid fresh out of high school, he is not so sure what he wants to do in life and ends up enrolling at an art school in the architecture department. Yuta lives with his two best friends who are both his seniors. The often serious and quiet Takumi and the over energetic and eccentric Shinobu (both pictured below).
The trio live fairly ordinary lives until the timid artistic genius Hagumi enrolls at the school. Love triangles are formed and feelings are slowly and sometimes dramatically exposed which causes tension between the friends. Honey and Clover is basically a series of stories about how unrequited love is such a bitter-sweet feeling all these characters go through during their time in College and how they deal with it.
The first noticeable thing about Honey and Clover is obviously its art style. The characters look like they just jumped out of a very well drawn manga and that’s because they did. Chica Umino’s character designs are as distinct as they are cute and beautiful to look at animated. The many expressions of Hagu always manage to slap a silly grin on my face and the background art does manage to evoke that dream like, nostalgic feel the show seems to be trying to pull off.
Honey and Clover probably the largest collection of relatable characters in a single anime. Nearly the entire cast feel real and grounded in a reality that can make sense to every single type of viewer. I especially related with Yuta because just like him I was raised by a single mom and just like him I majored in Architecture and just like him my 1st true love was unrequited.
The examples don’t end there, Ayumi’s character is one that I believe many young females can relate with. Her will to never give up trying and her naive hope to one day be with the man she loves is both endearing and often sad to watch. But its these harsh realities that make me love the show so much.
The show even has an arc with middle aged characters, something that is not very common in modern anime. The manner in which these characters interact is so mature and its such a breath of fresh air to see highly dramatic romantic situation dealt with in a way that is not childish or insulting to the viewer.
This show is heavy, its got some really somber moments and a lot of quotable quotes. I wouldn’t recommend marathoning the whole thing in one sitting unless you have the sufficient resolve to stomach it all.
Its not all doom and gloom, the show manages to slip in some comic relief mostly thanks to Shinobu’s antics and the character designs compliment the often gloomy and bitter atmosphere of the anime so a good contrast is made.
The Madman DVD Collection has a tonne of extras on it, I was pleasantly delighted to see over an hour of extra content to watch and read after I completed the anime.
The Voice acting in the show is decent enough to watch through in English. Yuri Lowenthal takes the role of Yuta and the rest of the cast is decent enough too with some stellar performances from Patrick Seitz and Stephanie Sheh. The Seiyuu do a good job as well with Hiroshi Kamiya, Tomokazu Sugita and at the time new comer Haruka Kudou playing Hagumi.
The show does have some un-even pacing mid way through the first season, it felt like they dragged some of the arcs a little too long and shortened the really interesting ones like Ayumi’s. I suspect this is due to the fact that the show was divided into two seasons and the writers didn’t really expect to have a second season green-lit.
There are some points in the show that do look under par, a very obvious dip in production values is hard to miss midway through the show, its not something that totally ruins the show its just that it really stands out especially when you have such highly stylised character designs.
Final Verdict: BUY IT! Honey and Clover literally has one of the best romance stories ever told in anime and even if you are not a fan of romance this is a title that is sure to sway you into the genre. No other title has been this good since AnoHana aired last year.
Honey and Clover: The Complete Collection is available on DVD from Madman Entertainment.