Honey and Clover

Hachimitsu (2)While a lot of manga titles are set in high school, Honey and Clover takes a look at college/university life and the growth its characters experience there.

Manga Title: Hachimitsu to Clover (Honey and Clover)
Mangaka: Chica Umino
Genres: Comedy-drama, romance, slice-of-life
Demographic: Josei

The Storyboard:
Yuta Takemoto is an architectural student at a university in Tokyo, living in the same apartment complex as two of his fellow students and friends: Takumi Mayama and Shinobu Morita. Each of them are happily going about their student lives when they are introduced to a freshman girl called Hagumi Hanamoto (Hagu) who is related to their art professor Shuji Hanamoto.

Yuta and Shinobu fall in love with her at first sight. Shinobu is infatuated by her cute appearance, constantly taking photos of her and even creating a webpage of his pictures. His approach doesn’t endear him much to Hagu, who reacts to him mostly with aversion.

Yuta on the other hand befriends her, initially unaware of his own love for her. He gradually gains her trust and discovers that she has a sweet, childish temperament.
As the two are friendly with Shuji, Hagu slowly starts to draw closer to them through their interactions, although romance seems to be the last thing on her mind.

Honey and Clover

Yuta, Hagu and Shinobu

Later another member of their group is introduced, the so called ‘Iron Lady’ Ayumi Yamada, who warms to Hagu quickly. Ayumi is physically very strong, hence her title, and is in love with Takumi. The love is unrequited however, because Takumi has feelings for another woman despite caring a lot for Ayumi.

Honey and Clover focuses on the interactions between these five characters (and their professor) as they grow closer, sharing the experiences of their lives all the way.

Honey and Clover

Takumi and Ayumi

Pencil Sketch:
Honey and Clover has a character driven plot, going from the group’s minglings with one another to their own backgrounds. The main lead is Yuta, a meticulous, unassuming young man who’s more sensitive to other people than the rest of the characters. He often doesn’t say what he really feels, which is especially how he is towards Hagu. That being the case he still has an admirable ability to find the good qualities in those he meets, making him a likeable protagonist.

Next is Takumi, a fourth year art student; brooding and somewhat self-absorbed, Takumi nonetheless is always there for his friends, joining in their get togethers and romps enthusiastically. Takumi’s love life is complicated by his affection for another woman, Rika, whilst knowing that Ayumi loves him. Even though he cares for Ayumi, he’s doesn’t return her love and tells her to forget about him.

Ayumi is usually self-assured and fiery tempered, often depicted giving Taekwondo kicks to anyone that pisses her off. She loves attention and compliments, soaking it up whenever someone says a good word about her. She states her affections for Takumi early on, and though rejected by him continues trying to win his heart, despite his not returning her feelings.

Of the group Shinobu is by far the most carefree and derpy. From the onset we see him sleeping late and missing classes, doing odd jobs and returning days later, and making genius pieces of art effortlessly. He’s a seventh year student, having been held back for tardiness in his projects. His love for Hagu begins immediately in a bizarre way; he seems to view her more as a doll than a person. Due to this she avoids him, but through the party’s activities they spend more time together.

Honey and Clover

Shinobu’s buff self-sculpture

Although she’s eighteen, Hagu has a temperament similar to a small girl’s. Also an art prodigy, she’s shown to ‘absorb’ the things she wants to paint and then reproduces them later on canvas, creating beautiful sculptures too. Having been almost brought up by Professor Hanamoto, they have a close relationship, staying with each other all the time. Hagu seems oblivious to both Shinobu and Yuta’s advances – happily getting along with both of them whilst the two men’s love for her deepens.

Honey and Clover

Hagu’s masterpiece

Lastly is Professor Hanamoto, at once a helpful guardian and friend to the group, he’s very devoted and protective over Hagu – ready to jump on the guys if they try anything. Hanamoto’s past is also connected to the love triangle between Ayumi, Makumi and Rika, a connection that unfolds as the story progresses.

Inking:
Honey and Clover doesn’t attempt to express any profound messages or philosophy. It details the lives of friends on their journey through university and life. The difficulties they face, happiness they share, love that grows and bitterness they go through all blend into a sweet, touching story.

What I liked most about Honey and Clover are the moments of comedy scattered throughout and poignant reflections on life that come in controlled bursts. The humor is often generic, dealing with tropes frequently encountered in manga – but every now and then there are some genuinely comic moments. Due to this the poignant parts seem all the more deep and heart-tugging, being placed amidst the humor they seem to stand out even more.

Honey and Clover won’t make you sob, though tears may escape from your eyes – it won’t make you roll on the floor laughing, though it may make you let out a real, hearty chuckle. Genuine and visceral, I found myself smiling and feeling warm inside after putting it down.

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7 thoughts on “Honey and Clover

  1. I was really interested in Honey & Clover a few years back, when I saw the art and when I saw the anime on TV. But I was hesitant to pick it up, because I..tend to avoid series with love triangles. I don’t know how many mangas with love triangles have disappointed me, so I become a bit cynical with them. But reading your write-up, I feel quite encouraged to pick it up! I do need some comedy to raise my spirits at them moment. Right now I’m still a little hesitant, is the drama heavy in this series? Should I save it for another day when my mood is a bit better?

    I noticed the author’s name, and I realised I’m reading her other work, “March Comes in Like a Lion” and I actually really enjoy that one. So I guess I’ll be picking this up eventually..?

    Anyways, thanks for sharing another good write-up! 🙂

    • Yeah, I know what you mean about love triangles not turning out how you want – or just going on too long. In the case of Honey and Clover I can’t say yet as I’ve just finished volume two (I usually review on the first volume or two). The trend so far in the manga is more comedy and slice-of-life with sprinklings of romance. Hopefully it’ll continue in the same vein as I feel the they compliment each other well. Im hoping for a bit more focus on their art too, as it’s one of the few manga I’ve read with artists and I think it could add a uniqueness to it. Once I finish the whole series I’ll get back to you on the rest!

      I wouldn’t mind trying that title you’re reading by the same mangaka, though it’ll have to be a while later as I’m following so many series right now! Do you follow any regular monthly/weekly titles? Great hearing from you and thanks for reading and commenting! 😀

      • Oh okay, I look forward to the rest! 🙂 Though sometimes a series can start focusing more on the comedy, they do tend to go to the angsty route near the end.

        The other series by the same mangaka actually focuses more on shogi (and for this one I can’t wait for more drama). I follow too many at the same time, they escape my mind. I usually follow shounen such as Bleach, One Piece, and the likes, weekly. I follow shoujo, such as Skip Beat, Hirunaka no Ryuusei, etc. monthly. How about you? Any favourites among the series you’re following regularly?

        • March Comes in like a Lion sounds interesting, I haven’t read a manga involving shogi before. I’m following mostly monthly titles at the moment like Sidonia no Kishi, Ajin and Shingeki no Kyojin. I was thinking about picking up a regular shoujo title too, perhaps Hirunaka no Ryuusei or Skip Beat would be a good ones to go for (though it looks like there’s an extreme amount of catching up to do with Skip Beat).

          I used to follow Bleach and Naruto religiously but stopped after I felt they were getting a bit to repetitive and drawn out. I still plan to finish Naruto one day once it’s been completed though. Out of the three I’d probably most like to read One Piece for its amazing creativity that the mangaka has kept up despite the time passed. How do you feel about the big shounen titles? Still enjoying them?

          • I’m also following Shingeki no Kyojin at the moment, it is really good isn’t it. I wanted to pick up Sidonia no Kishi before, is it any good?

            If you’re looking for shoujo titles I recommend Taiyou no Ie, Kimi ni Todoke, Horimiya, and Hibi Chouchou. All of them are still short in comparison to Skip Beat. I think right now is the golden season for shoujo, they are all so good.

            I’m still following only because it looked like they’re ending really soon. Bleach’s mangaka already announce that it’s their last arc (though who knows when it’s actually going to end) and I think Naruto is done with their war so I hope they just need to wrap things up. I can’t say I enjoy them that much, but I do still have lingering attachments with the characters and that’s the only thing which held me on (though Bleach is letting me down with where they’re going right now). One Piece is still enjoyable though for me, the current arc’s story is quite good, though the pace is monotonish when they continue for this long (and will continue for around 10 more years according to the mangaka). I also read Fairy Tail, and it’s still alright although it does get repetitive. It’s hard to find a good shounen title nowadays. Have you heard of Assassination Classroom though? It’s a really good recent one, and they’re going to have an anime next year!

          • Shingeki no Kyojin is pretty good, though I felt it had a few pacing issues in the recent chapters. Sidonia no Kishi is great, I started reading it after the anime aired last season – there’s a post on it on my blog, really worth a read (if you like sci-fi).

            Thanks for those recs, I’ll be sure to check them out. About Kimi ni Todoke, I’m watching the anime now, do you know if the manga is more complete? Yeah, I’ve read some of Assassination Classroom (also wrote a post on it) and I’ll definitely be watching the anime adaption. I haven’t gotten far in it, what I’ve read is mostly slapstick comedy with a slightly sinister hint. I think if the sinister part is worked on it could be brilliant! 😀

          • Yes I agree, Shingeki feels a bit slow now though the plot gets even deeper. The politics start to get complicated, too. I’ve just read your post on Sidonia, and I might give it a try! I’m not that good with hard scifi, but I hope I’ll find it enjoyable.

            I’m actually not really sure, since I don’t watch Kimi ni Todoke’s anime, so I don’t know where it is on at the moment. But to my knowledge, anime based on shoujo series is faithful to the manga but just a bit behind, so I think you can pick up where you’re left in the anime and read the continuation in the manga. Oh, then I’ll be sure to check out your write up on it! Don’t know how I could’ve missed it! 😀
            I’ve read up to the newest chapters and I think they’re still doing great. And the anime seems promising, so I’m really looking forward to it!

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