Honey, Clovers, Sweet Osmanthus

by eternal on May 22, 2012


Honey and Clover fans would be familiar with the ubiquitous Ferris Wheel and weathervane symbols from the anime adaptation, but there are several less explicit symbols that aren’t telegraphed in the OP/ED videos. I noticed while reading the manga that the sweet osmanthus–apparently a common flower in East Asia–features prominently in Yamada’s narration. (The flower’s orange colour and Ayumi’s hair colour is probably a coincidence, but it’s a fun coincidence at any rate).

I’ll start with a quote:

The faint scent of sweet osmanthus outside and the orange lights glowing inside… up through last year, Mayama was around somewhere among those lights. I’d make up errands just so I could pass by places he might be to get a glimpse of him, even for just a moment, or to hear his voice… (vol 3)

That’s Ayumi’s recollection of the Hamabi school festival when both her and Mayama were still students. The sweet osmanthus are also mentioned in passing elsewhere in the series, subtly reminding the reader of this declaration of her hopelessness.

This little window into Ayumi’s heart summarizes her relationship with Mayama. A sense of longing permeates her speech (though to be fair, this feeling applies to most of the series). What’s more notable for her character is that nowhere in the line is there any mention of hope. Wishing to be with him and to receive his feelings always takes a back seat to simply being in his presence, to “catch a glimpse” for just one moment. It’s one of many instances in which Umino uses icons and symbols to represent intangible feelings. Ayumi’s statement of feelings is magnified by its association with a sensory memory: the scent of the flowers. Much like in real life, memories become vivid as scattered sensory experiences, not as a chronological series of events.

When a similar line pops up again in volume 8, it carries a different meaning. At first the school festival memory was used to establish Yamada’s hopeless longing and to create sympathy–but now, with the confession long past and Mayama growing closer to Rika, it instead feels nostalgic. The same memory is seen in a new light.

“I love sweet osmanthus”–a teary smile much like Takemoto’s at the end of the series, an acknowledgement that it was all worthwhile.

So the scent of the osmanthus is brought up first to show us how hopelessly in love Ayumi is, and it returns in the end to remind us of how strong her love once was. Heartbreakingly poetic, as always. It’s fitting that the next chapter begins with Yamada cleaning her shoes to get rid of the sand from her trip to Tottori with Nomiya, remarking on how it stays with her. Of course sand would stay with her, and of course the memory would too. One story ends, and another begins. A lot is said with short lines of introspection.


{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Foxy Lady Ayame May 22, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Sweet osmanthus is a flower I’d like to see and smell from near. I’ve been first fascinated with it through Sailor Kakyuu in Sailor Moon’s last season.

Umino Chika is really poetic and you really really love her it seems :)


eternal May 23, 2012 at 3:50 am

Ah, I actually haven’t seen Sailor Moon, though I’m curious about the flower’s smell now too. SekaChu also piqued my curiosity about hydrangeas.

Haha, yep, I’m a fan. H&C is my favourite anime so from time to time I write random posts ab0ut it or at least allude to it.


kk July 31, 2012 at 9:34 am

omg i just realized that when you pointed it out! but its sooo nice to see a recenty post about honey and clover. its my favourite anime of all time. i especially loved ep 23, takamotos bike ride <3. when i get older(atm, im 14) my friend and i are going to go to japan and do exactly what he did. cant wait <3


eternal September 8, 2012 at 3:17 am

Y’know, H&C is my favourite anime of all time and I first watched it when I was around 14 too. It’s perfect. The Tottori Sand Dunes are on my to-see list thanks to this show.


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