Honey and Clover is a romance series created by manga artist Umino Chica. In 2005 it was adapted into an anime in 2005 by J.C. Staff. The same studio responsible for Nodame Cantabile and Aoi Hana, which is somewhat promising. As well as Shakugan no Shana, which is pretty discouraging. The only way to see whether this stands with their good romances or their creepily codependent rubbish one is to watch it. So let’s check it out.
The story opens with our protagonist, Izaya (yes, I do know that’s not his name, but the characters in this were so dull I never learned their actual names, even over the course of 24 episodes, so I’m going to refer to them by the names of more interesting characters played by the same actors) anyway, Izaya is spending some time at his apartment with a couple seniors from the same art University, the studious Chrono and the held back slacker, Jean Havoc. Reno, their teacher, brings in a young relative of his, Sayu. The story from their focuses on their everyday lives with particular emphasis on the love triangle involving Izaya, Havoc and Sayu or Chrono’s unrequited love for the older Ridget while he tries to deal kindly with Amy’s unrequited feelings for him. The biggest problem with the series is just that it’s mind numbingly dull. It relies on you caring about the mundane lives of the characters, more on why that doesn’t work in the next paragraph, although I’m sure you can figure it out. Most of the story focuses on soap operaesque romance elements and not the entertainingly cheesy type of soap opera in which the main character’s evil twin has an affair with his mother-in-law and she thinks it was him or some such absurdity. This is the more mundane variety in which the situation is ordinary but over-blown. In addition to that, everything drags. There’s a long scene about the characters looking for the interesting plot ideas… I mean a four leaf clover. The scene ultimately has no impact on anything else that happens either.
The characters in this are bland and one-dimensional. You’d think that a series with a clear character focus would take some time to flesh its characters out and develop them, but Honey and Clover has no time for such things. Instead, it picks a focus trait for each character, whether they’re childish, uncertain, slackers or whatever and it never lets them grow or deviate from that. The biggest example is Havoc who gets an easy opening towards the end for some mild development only to elect to remain within the status quo because… developing slightly would interfere with his one character trait.
The art in this is… okay. The faces are drawn kind of oddly. They always look like their mouths are open. The scenery is fine. One thing that is odd is that Sayu’s supposedly brilliant art is just incredibly mediocre. It could be a deliberate statement on how mediocrity frequently does get praised as “brilliant” for inexplicable reasons, but its more likely that they were trying to make art that looked brilliant and that’s what they came up with.
The voice acting is passable. The actors certainly don’t give their best performances, but they also don’t have much to work with. They still all manage to do their jobs adequately. The music tends toward the soft and peaceful. It functions for the show’s aesthetic.
The ho-yay factor is a 2/10. Havoc gets some homo-erotic scenes and there’s one rather disturbing scene involving two brothers. The strangest part of that scene is that it has absolutely no purpose nor is it mentioned again. They could’ve left it out and lost nothing. So… they deliberately hinted at incest for no reason.
Honey and Clover is not a bad anime. It’s just boring and, mostly, inoffensive. It feels like a creative writing project from a student who’s about to graduate and doesn’t care anymore. I can really only recommend it if you really like watching dull people go about their lives or you’re suffering from insomnia. It may very well bore you to sleep. Final rating, 5/10. Next week, Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro Chan. I know, it’s not the first thing in the queue, but everything else is too long to finish in one week.