We’ve had some good times Honey & Clover but now it’s time to say goodbye. I remember your first season, you were a young spry show based on a manga no one had heard of and all anyone knew was that the art style was different. However in short time you introduced us into a world of (almost) realistic characters and their various soap-operish troubles. The weekly insert singles didn’t hurt either. Yep in those first 24 episodes you mananged to hit all the right notes of character development, plot, and comedy (who didn’t laugh during Morita’s first antics in the first ep?). That’s why it’s so sad that I just can’t feel the same about your second outing as a tv series.
Oh now it was still a good show, miles above the usual harem/fanservice crap we get, but still it felt different. These weren’t exactly the same characters we had come to know and love. Mayama seemed a bit too much like a creepy stalker/jealous boyfriend. Shuuji went from well meaning mentor to potential pedophile. Yamada almost started a relationship and then for some reason it fizzled out and was forgotten by the end. Takemoto, my favorite and the most realistic character on the show, was already grown-up and was quietly pushed to the side until the dynamics of the triangle-love showdown demanded him. I blame a lot of this on the nature of the story-arcs. In the first season plots were spread over several episodes and either gently moved on or came to a startling conclusion but we could still chart their progress. Season 2 abandoned this for character arcs, first a Yamada/Mayama arc, than Kaoru/Morita’s, and finally Hagu’s/Shuuji’s ending. The plot didn’t flow but stopped,started, and even sometimes literally moved across the world. What I mean to say is that there was a lack of gradual progression, we were expected to understand any new plot revelaton and go with it. In a reality focused show like H&C this doesn’t really work. I mean really who didn’t start going wtf! during Shuuji’s love confession? I still have no idea if he was speaking as a parent loving a child or a man loving a woman. I really don’t want to know.
Though of course there were many aspects I liked. Mayama and Rika’s journey to Hokkaido was stunning from an artistic point of view, you could really feel the cold. It must be said this season did have much better and more stunning animation, though some of the characters looked weird in the later episodes. I especially enjoyed Kaoru’s little revenge arc, which, even though it had a lack of build-up, was still an extremely emotional story. Kaoru’s flashback to his Father and Tatsuo’s revenge ranks up with Takemoto’s bike journey as the most poignant and beautiful part of the series. And the Takemoto/Morita fight, if unrealistic, was still a joy to behold (I would love to see the H&C staff do more fight scenes). Also Hagu’s accident scene was brilliantly and suspensefully built up, though I feel it took the whole series in a rather bad direction.
So in the end, in the eternal way of measuring all anime, would I recommend Honey & Clover II? Hell yeah. Even if it was inferior to season 1 it still wrapped up all the plot threads, no matter how weird they were, and gave us another fresh look at people we had come to love. I would also have to say H&C would be worth watching just for the animation and music. I’ve come to love Spitz through this series. I’ve heard Umino Chika gonna do a spinoff from H&C so that will be interesting to see. And will someone license this and manga already! Why the hell would you pick up Coyote Ragtime Show over this? I just don’t understand american companies. Also Takemoto’s replacement VA sucks! He can’t do monologues at all! Just so you know.