Honey and Clover is a peculiar anime. It was one I was almost always recommended and told I would love by avid fans. Years passed and I eventually watched it shortly after having started studying on university level, a very fitting choice as it takes place in a college setting with adult characters. Indeed, I don’t think there ever would’ve been a better time to watch it.
To describe Honey and Clover would be futile as it is unlike every other anime I’ve seen. Perhaps it is thanks to its adult characters and college setting. Perhaps it is how there are no easy solutions to problems. Perhaps it is because it does not follow a straight line in storytelling, instead embracing the meandering nature and finding something meaningful to tell in in exactly that. Or perhaps it is due to how it is about life itself and how it all just sort of happens whether you are prepared or not.
There is a certain sense of adolescence and melancholic atmosphere that at times feel very real. The way music is heavily integrated into the series helps create a rather nostalgic sensation of a time that may have taken place in your life. It makes me think of all my worries about the future.
One particular part in Honey and Clover that struck a chord with me was at the end of the first season, where the character Takemoto rides on a bicycle throughout Japan in hope of discovering something – a meaning to life and his existence. His friends have long left him behind and found their purposes and goals, however Takemoto has not. What does he wish to do with his life? What does he need to do in order to discover that? Will be become stronger if he does? He does not even know himself.
I am currently a Takemoto. I am lost in life. Slowly, but surely, I am seeing those around me growing more confident in their aspirations or even working their way through them. All this while I am left behind, not knowing what to do with myself. I will ultimately work my way through university, but for what reason? And then I cry.
It has been tempting to do something, by my standards, foolish in order to escape this feeling of emptiness. Stop studying and travel abroad. Get a job. Switch to studying something completely out of left field. Or, as Takemoto, take my bicycle and travel across the country. The latter is something I was close to doing, as it felt very liberating when I once ended up completely lost far from the city centre. It would be a bicycle and I on a journey, even if it would be nothing more than a pitiful escape from reality rather than a solution to the problem.
From time to time I still quietly think to myself:
“How far can I go without turning back?”