First Impressions: Honey and Clover
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It has been a long time coming. As I have documented pretty extensively on this website, “March Comes in Like a Lion” has a had a profound impact on both my mental health as well as my personality. The amount of time I have spent thinking about the series and its various messages about self-positivity and bullying have made me a whole different person, on top of bringing lots of enjoyment.
It is not only well-written, but well executed on the part of Studio Shaft, whose odd style of animation lended even more personality to the show as a whole. It is because of Chica Umino’s excellent characters and storytelling that my expectations for “Honey and Clover” were, and still are, extremely high. Safe to say that, at least so far, those expectations have been met.
“Honey and Clover” definitely does a lot right as far as its story and characters. For starters, it is rare that anime uses college as a setting for a story. Most often characters are shown in high school, where their future is yet to be determined. However, given that the setting is an art school, it is pretty obvious, at least to most of the main characters, what it is they are doing.
Yuta is the exception in this case, as he went to art school thinking that he wanted to create, but is unsure exactly as to what. Although he is shown as the entry point to a lot of the relationships in the show, he never feels like the main character, and is in stark contrast to Rei, who feels like the main character from the very beginning.
The show is also similar to march in that it is going to be something of a slow burn. While all of the characters have been introduced so far, it is apparent that the series is going to need all 24 of its episodes to properly flush them out. For example, Shinobou’s work life has yet to be fully revealed, and Shinobou’s competition with Yuta for Haru’s affection, while having been clearly established, has not yet ramped up in any significant way, even though Yuta clearly knows about his feelings.
In that respect, the setup for the show is extremely good. The pace is not so slow that it feels boring, but not so fast that it feels like there are things that could have been explored further.
Beyond the writing aspects, the show as a really nostalgic vibe. “Honey and Clover” came out in 2005, and it definitely feels like it. Maybe its just my personal taste, but a lot of 2000’s slice of life shows have this strange ability to shift between their more light-hearted and serious moments exceptionally well.
The show’s animation adds to this as well. J.C. Staff tends to have pretty plain animation, all things considered, but here it actually helps to ground attention on the characters, as opposed to just being distracting. Chica Umino’s character designs are also really reflective of this era, and thus fit right in.
While I would hesitate to say the show is as good as “March” three episodes in, “Honey and Clover” still does a fantastic job of setting up its characters in a way that keeps the show worth watching. I definitely look forward to seeing how the series will continue.
Have you all seen “Honey and Clover?” What did you think? Let me know in the comments (but please no spoilers cause I really want to finish it blind).
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