The refrigerator in my room is still empty as usual, but I can’t hear that sound any more. I feel that I can keep believing…that even the thing all of us were looking for but never found on that day…someday, surely….
…We will find it.
If Takemoto epitomizes the overall themes and messages in the story, then the other characters contribute to that message and reveal it from different perspectives. We see it in the show, no analysis needed: how Ayumi used to wander unconsciously during the school festival just to catch a glimpse of Mayama, how he in turn sat silently at night and listened to Rika’s broken voice, afraid to touch her yet even more afraid of losing her. Each character experiences those telltale signs of love, and each of them, aside from Mayama, reaches a wildly different conclusion from the one they hoped for. We see love from five different angles – unrequited love, because the show deals with emotions, not relationships, and what better way to explore an emotion than to remove its physical hindrances? – and each angle represents a different situation with a similar undesirable result. Love that is restrained in the name of maturity and practicality; love that is open and free, but ultimately unreturned; love that is undesired, that is a hindrance in itself; love that is crushed under the weight of society and one’s moral obligations; and finally, love that is simple and true in every sense of the word, and that goes unresolved for the most innocent of reasons. All of these things can happen – have happened – and they allow the viewer to see the same central theme from different perspectives.
Needless to say, the show is a bit more complicated than that. It makes use of a lot of things to tell its story – monologues and narration, nuances in dialogue, symbolism – and it weaves everything together so that the drama is there, but not jarring. The symbols were exceptionally well done, the most notable ones being the recurring theme of “revolving” – the flow of time, constantly moving – and the four leafed clover, representing the one “thing” that they were all searching for. In this case, that thing was something more important than a clover, like love, or happiness, but it was equally distant.
However, Honey and Clover doesn’t strike me as the kind of show that requires a critical review. It would be helpful to explore the intricacies in more detail, digging into the insert songs and metaphors, but it isn’t necessary. At its heart, the show is about its storyline, its central theme and message; the narrative techniques are just icing on the bittersweet cake.
So, if the five main characters show us different sides of a central theme, then the final question is obvious: what is the central theme? And the answer to that is explained in the final episode, but it’s justified and expounded upon with every minute of screen time throughout the two seasons. It is about life and its many tribulations, most of which deal with love in a general sense, and it’s about the lifelong quest for that elusive thing known as happiness – in this case, it’s symbolized as the impossible-to-find four-leafed clover – but it deals with those things ten times more honesty than most shows of its kind. It’s about the hard questions that fiction never asks, the questions that people have to live through in the real world, knowing that they won’t be freed by a deus ex machina at the end of the season. What happens after your feelings go unreturned? What happens after you’re forcibly separated from the object of your affection? What happens when you look yourself in the mirror and see a healthy young man or woman, but the moment you search inside your heart, you find a gaping hole? The show follows the lives of the characters as they encounter these different scenarios, as they struggle with the world around them to find their own unique form of happiness. But at the end of the day, beyond the joy and pain, after the Ferris Wheel ride and at the end of the bike path, there is only one message.
Is there a difference between something that will disappear and something that never existed?
There is a difference. A simple, fundamental difference. It’s right there in your heart.