Honey and Clover: Special Chapters
Five college students and their teacher from an art school are best friends, rivals, and antagonists all at the same time. Impossible? They are art students, after all. All of the characters are extremely talented, and, like most tragic artists, all are slightly eccentric.
Takemoto Yuuta, Mayama Takumi, and Morita Shinobu started out as struggling roommates who, like normal male college students would, like to make each other's college experience just a little bit wild. Their teacher, Hanamoto Shuu, brings his adorable, petite relative Hanamoto Hagumi (Hagu-chan for short) to the school in order for her stunning talent to blossom. He is extremely protective of her (dangerously so), though he cannot stop Takemoto and Morita from falling in love with her.
Mayama apprentices for Hanamoto-sensei's college friend Harada Rika, a physically frail and scarred architecture designer who lost her husband in a car accident. Sadly (and there always is a "sadly") strong-willed but popular Yamada Ayumi, a classmate of Mayama, refuses to give up her long-suffering affections for Mayama, regardless of his blatant coldness and refusal of her feelings.
In spite of all their troubles, they can still set it all aside and be tight-knit friends, enjoying the less glamorous, less rushed life of urban Tokyo.
Honey and Clover is arguably one of the finest anime titles to come out for a mainly-female audience in ages. I won't too much into how excellent the TV series is, because Jennifer has already written a very comprehensive review for it, and I fear sounding like an echo.
Honey and Clover (HachiKuro for short in Japanese ... maybe "HoneyClo" would be appropriate?) has just the right amount of angst to tap into that yearning feeling of young adulthood (many of us have been there, some of us are still there--and for those of you that aren't there yet, consider yourself warned) without falling into the nonstop "emo" angst of so many high school dramas. The characters are mature, but still children in a way, for they are still students. They have outgrown the spastic awkwardness of high school and are now embarking on lives of their own, taking their relationships into their own hands rather than relying on childish games to get them through things.
Honey and Clover has that warm cozy feeling that you get when it is gray and raining outside, but you are nestled inside a homey coffee shoppe sipping your favorite lavender tea, nice and dry. It is nostalgic and comforting, heartwarming and tear-jerking. And as a young twenty-something living in Tokyo (in similar standards of living, too), this series holds a special place in my heart.
The two special episodes, while part of the manga canon, were eagerly anticipated by fans as the two "missing episodes" from the TV season. Disappointing, though, is the fact that both episodes have very little impact on the story as a whole, and are really just extended versions of a few running gags inside the manga. Fans of the manga might appreciate seeing some of the gag stories animated, and more attention is giving to some of the supporting characters rather than the main five. Unfortunately, these stories and gags would have been better executed had they been sprinkled in tiny pieces throughout the main continuity of the TV series. While amusing, they simply don't hold the same captivating appeal as the original episodes do. There is just too much a lack of character favorites (Hagu, Ayumi, Morita for starters) for them to be held up in the same caliber as the actual TV episodes.
That isn't to say they weren't enjoyable. I really wanted to give these episodes five stars. Everything about them screams Honey and Clover, and they aren't deviant from the series so much to be considered "un-canon." But the animation is a little lesser here (much more SD and funny faces) and the plot is sub-par to the story we have gotten used to.
That being said, these episodes are a must for any Honey and Clover fan (and shame on you if you aren't!), but I wouldn't go into any frantic rush to watch them right away. You aren't missing much.
While it continues on with the original spirit of the TV series, I can understand why they kept these two episodes out. They are merely filler, and do nothing to advance the storyline like we would have hoped. — Melissa Sternenberg
Recommended Audience: Nothing objectionable other than a bit of drunkenness and Ayumi puking her guts out while sobbing. (Though nothing is shown.) Typical college fare. Or maybe not so typical, depending on how you look at it. Recommended for adults and college students above all, but forward-looking teenagers might appreciate it too. Might be too tame for angsty drama-queen teenagers who want severe melodrama.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Full (2/2)
Honey and Clover: Special Chapters © 2006 Chika Umino / Shueisha / Hachikuro Committee
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