Honey and Clover received the Kodansha Manga Award for shoujo manga (which means manga for girls, BTW) in 2007. But comparing it with other shoujo titles such as Ouran High School Host Club, Skip Beat, Kaichou wa Maid-sama, Lovely Complex and probably all others, one rather feels a gust of fresh air. Whereas nearly all shoujo manga and anime picture girls getting (apparently) dreamy looking (and perfect in every sense) boyfriends with clichéd and overused plot twists, Honey and Clover basks in the fresh light of Slice of Life genre. No mushy crap, no unrealistic perfectness and certainly no goo-goo eyed, annoying, weak, shallow and pathetic heroines (I am not saying that all shoujo heroines are like that though).

Honey and Clover is the depiction of the day to day activities of a few art school students. Takemoto Yuuta struggles to find his colour palette and the canvas to brush his heart on. But his everyday life is never short of fun and excitement with helpful senior Mayama and eccentric, greedy and hyper Morita. Upon meeting the cute and small Hagumi Hanamoto (Hehe, I know, right? Hagu-chan, she is called. Hehe), Yuuta, along with Morita, falls in love and his visions are filtered by the coat of love. Along the way we meet many other characters, like Ayumi (hopelessly in love with Mayama), Rika (hopelessly loved by Mayama), and Professor Hanamoto, each with character depths deep enough for several manga put together.

Probably the best part about the two seasons of this anime was when Yuuta runs away on a bicycle to 'find himself' and bikes through Japan. For me, those were the most emphatic episodes.

This could have been just a college romantic comedy. But the unbelievably realistic and complex characterisations, solid humour and the simple yet pleasant animation style separates this manga from all others of the Shoujo category. Love is present, yes, quite strongly in fact. But it does not control the story. The story is about growing up, facing rejections and standing tall. This story is about the pain and longing etched into unrequited love. But it always preserves a cheerful atmosphere over the dark brooding melancholia of the soul.

The music is one of the highlights of this anime. The voice acting was very well done. The comedy is well placed and never feels forced. Actually, the humour and the gloominess are blended perfectly to portray a very believable everyday sequence.

The Verdict:
A great anime for all time, not just for the Valentine season. As for availability, internet is your best friend (animax ran it a few years ago).


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