Honey and Clover is a show I oftentimes find myself revisiting once or twice a year. If you couldn’t tell from my series of banners, I’m a huge fan of the series; it’s one of few which I’d say completely encompasses the bittersweet feelings of longing and unfulfillment which we oftentimes find burning within us. And while the anime is filled with so much heartbreak and looming remorse, it never devolves into overly dramatic confessions over Valentine’s chocolate. There are sad screams, but only those that are repressed; the characters drift into a sea of impossible, sometimes morally questionable decisions and live unsure of what their futures hold.
The complex feelings of unknowing envelops the cast as they drift through their peaceful, college life. In Ha Neul Seom’s first article, one of my greatest inspirations, Gaguri, wrote that Honey and Clover is a cruel anime: the characters flounder in their irredeemable mistakes and find themselves overshadowed by friends and companions more talented than they themselves. There are no fairy-tale endings; each character’s journey through college life deals with the effects of loss and being lost. More than once do the characters find themselves in a superposition between two passions, carrying along a theme of uncertainty.
For me, this is a year of unknowing as well. Next Autumn, I’m destined to be moved to a new, different city, and whether or not I’ll be admitted to my first choice is out of my hands. And even beyond that, I’m unsure of what to do in the future, or even if my degree will even play a part in deciding my future occupation. Nothing is set is stone; everything is destined to change. And although I can’t say I regret anything, I do wonder at times what would happen if I had made different, better choices at times appropriate. For one of the first times in my life, everything has been thrown up in the air and I’m forced to make a choice, because no matter how uncertain I am, time waits for no one.
I see Honey and Clover isn’t as about lost love, but rather, our wavering feelings of discontent and the ambiguous nature of life itself. Honey and Clover is about wandering, either present in not knowing what they want to do, or having something beloved taken away. Takemoto can’t for the life of him figure out his life after college. Hagu works towards her dream only to have it taken away. Morita finally raises the money for his dream only to feel the resounding hollowness which stems from it. Stuck either between several choices or none at all, our characters find themselves wandering about, discontent and scared of the nearing future.
But that’s okay.
In one of the most memorable, widely referenced scenes of the anime, Takemoto, Ayumi, Hagu, Morita, and Mayama, all of them, decide to spend their day searching for a single four-leaf clover. They spend their day crouched among the grass, searching the patch and looking for what should be just a small, insignificant plant. And while they never find it, Takemoto confesses that although many memories will fade from his memory, that day will keep spinning in his heart for days on end.
I’m sorry to delude you readers, but the title of my post is somewhat of a misnomer, for the characters in Honey and Clover are not merely lost. The characters of Honey and Clover are simply wandering, searching to find something both in and out from themselves. The origin of the word seeker is from the Old English secan which means one who tries to find. To feel loss and disappointment is to be human. Honey and Clover’s message is a simple, blunt pearl of wisdom that’s been passed down countless times before, but now matter how many watches I give, it always rings so true: that our unrequited loves and unfulfilled dreams really did have meaning, and that all you can do is slowly savor the wonderful, bittersweet memories. Not all those who wander are lost.
I’m happy I chose to rewatch Honey and Clover at this time in my life.