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honey and clover Box 1 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

November 18, 2009 by  



Charming, beautiful, realistic and enjoyable… A wonderful young adult anime drama series that is faithful to the original manga and looks incredible in animated format.  “honey and clover” is magnificent!

 

Image courtesy of © 2005 Chica Umino/Shueisha.  All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: honey and clover Box 1

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 + 1 bonus episode (300 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: Bilingual Japanese/English, 16:9 Widescreen

COMPANY: J.C. Filmworks/Viz Media

RATED: T for Older Teen

Released on September 22, 2009

Based on the manga by Chika Umino

Directed by Kenichi Kasai

Script by Yousuke Kuroda

Music by Yuzo Hayashi

Character Design by Shuichi Shimamura

Art Director by Chikako Shibata

Chief Animation Director: Takahiko Yoshida

Sound Director: Jin Aketagawa

Director of Photography: Yutaka Kurosawa

Featuring the following voice talent:

Haruka Kudou/Heather Halley as Hagumi Hanamoto

Hiroshi Kamiya/Yuri Lowenthal as Yuuta Takemoto

Mikako Takahashi/Julie Ann Taylor as Ayumi Yamada

Tomokazu Sugita as Takumi Mayama

Yuji Ueda/Sam Regal as Shinobu Morita

Keiji Fujiwara/Chris Kent as Shuuji Hanamoto

Sayaka Ohara as Rika Harada

What do you get when you cross creativity with self-discovery and unrequited love?  Art school!

Yuta Takemoto has no idea what’s in store for his life when he enrolls at a Tokyo art college, but he enrolls at a Tokyo art college, but he finds out right away.  It’ll never be dull! Love triangles form as fast as friendships when both Takemoto and senior classmate Shinobu Morita fail hard for shy artistic prodigy Hagumi Hanamoto.  And while architecture student Takumi Mayama secretly pines for an older woman, dazzling ceramicist Ayumi Yamada pines for him!  Confused yet?

Welcome to the bittersweet world of Honey and Clover….

Charming, beautiful, realistic and enjoyable… There are definitely a lot of positive things you can say about the anime adaptation of the Kodansha Award winning manga series by Chika Umino.

Having spawned a live Japanese drama and film, “Honey and Clover” has been a popular series that attracts both guys and girls as the story focuses on life and love from the perspective of both sides of the sexes.    I was hooked by the manga series from volume 1 and enjoyed the film despite its different interpretation. But I have always been curious about the anime adaptation and now the first box set consisting of the first 12 episodes + a bonus episode is now available in the US courtesy of Viz Media.  In Japan, a total of two seasons (48 episodes) have aired.

In 2005, “honey and clover” was turned into an anime series courtesy of Director Kenichi Kasai (“Nodame Cantabile”, “Gokudo”, “His and Her Circumstances”) and a screenplay by Yousuke Kuroda (“Big Windup!”, “Excel Saga”, “Gungrave”, “Infinite Ryvius”).  The series features music by Yuzo Hayashi (“Sailor Moon” series), character designs by  Shuichi Shimamura (“Saber Marionette”, “Yu-Gi-Oh!”, “Green Legend Ran”) and anime production by J.C. Staff.

“honey and clover” focuses on five students who attend an art college and the focuses on their persona lives, their friendships within several years and how they evolve in school to eventually planning a career.

The main characters are:

Yuta Takemoto: One of the primary characters of the series.  Takemoto is the youngest amongs the guys.  He is majoring in architectural design and seems to have a ho-hum life but is the normal guy of the group.  A bit naive, he tries to enjoy the moments of life with his friends and has taken a liking to the gifted artist Hagumi.

Shinobu Morita: A carefree, does whatever he wants type of guy. Very cool when he shows off his sculptures or artwork but most of the time, he is very strange. Shinobu has attended the University for over seven years and has not graduated due to being caught up in other side freelance jobs that pay him a whole lot of money.  He is drawn to Hagumi because she reminds him of a Koropokkur (a leprechaun or fairy) and likes to torment his friends during awkward moments.

Takumi Mayama: Mayama is the quiet type. He is the senpai (the upperclassman) for Takemoto and is the first person preparing for life after college and planned on his career.  He works as an intern at a design firm in which he is secretly in love with the owner Rika.  So, much that he somewhat stalks her.

Hagumi: A shy but gifted sculptor who is being taken care of by her uncle, Professor Hanamoto. She is not very talkative and very, very short. She looks like a little girl but she’s actually 18 and her cuteness makes everyone in a good mood.  She lives with her guardian, Professor Hanamoto.

Ayumi Yamada: Yamada aka “Iron Man” is another gifted student at the art school  known for her ceramic skills.  She is also madly in love with Mayama. She knows that he is not interested in her but she takes it hard and sometimes can’t tolerate his attitude towards her but she does so because she’s in love with him. She’s very blunt, very beautiful, very athletic but also can get very violent and is known to beat people up who get on her bad side.

Other characters in the series include:

Professor Hanamoto – A mentor to the students who is the guardian of Hagumi (and constantly worries about her) and also grew up with Rika (the owner of the design firm where Mayama works).

Rika – Grew up with Hanamoto and she had a relationship with his roommate Harada but during a car accident, she survived but he didn’t and has lived her life with a lot of pain since then.  She owns a design firm where Mayama works and doesn’t know that he likes her.

The following 13-episodes are featured on three DVD’s. Here is a spoiler-less summary of each episode of “honey and clover box 1”:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 1 – “I Saw Someone Fall in Love for the First Time” The guys meet a new transfer student named Hagumi who will be living with Professor Hanamoto and one of the guys starts taking a liking to her immediately.
  • EPISODE 2 – “I Felt Left Out When I Saw Hagu’s Work” – Morita-san thinks Hagumi is a Koropokkur and tries to make money of her.
  • EPISODE 3 – “Why Is this Happening to Me?” – Mayama feels affection for someone.  Who can it be?  A Mayama driven storyline.
  • EPISODE 4  “I Don’t Like Christmas All That Much” – It’s the first Christmas together as friends but why doesn’t Takamoto like Christmas?

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 5 – “I Came Home to See You” – Takemoto hasn’t gone home to visit his mother in a long time.  A Takemoto-driven storyline.
  • EPISODE 6 – “Why Did You Fall In Love With a Guy Like Me?” – Mayama learns the truth of what happened to Rika and her past.  Meanwhile, Ayumi reveals something big to Mayama.
  • EPISODE 7 – “Hagu, Let’s Go Together” – Professor Hanamoto is offered to travel on a sabbatical for a year.  But that means leaving Hagu alone.
  • EPISODE 8 – “Feeling the Distance” – Hagu goes into depression while being away from Professor Hanamoto.

DISC 3:

  • EPISODE 9 – “Why Can’t I Tell Her” – It’s the second Christmas together and Hagu decides to work with Ayumi and her family during the holidays.
  • EPISODE 10 – “You Just Can’t Cast Your Feelings Aside” – The group of friends go on a trip and write a waterbus and to a theme park where they must deal with their own personal emotions towards others.
  • EPISODE 11 – “That Was No Fun At All” Professor Hanamoto returns from his work-related sabbatical and the gang realizes that his time away from Hagu was as bad or much worse than Hagu being away from him.
  • EPISODE 12 – “Foolish Thinking” – Hagu must deal with her personal emotions.  Meanwhile, Morita disappears once again and Takemoto goes to find out why.
  • BONUS EPISODE L – “Face to Face with a Legend” – The first “honey and clover” special featuring the friends talking about their appreciation towards a guy named Lohmeyer in two different storylines.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“honey and clover” is featured in 16×9 widescreen and although the show is a television series, the artistic backgrounds, surround buildings are very well-painted and detailed.  The character designs are true to Chica Umino’s manga character designs and for the most part, character designer Shuichi Shimamura stayed true to her designs.  Animation is fun and colorful and for those who are familiar with the manga series can definitely appreciation the overall presentation of the anime series.  Very well-done.

Audio is presented in Stereo and featured in English and Japanese.  Both the Japanese and English voice dub are both are very well-done.  In terms of audio quality, the series is front channel driven but I chose to set my receiver with stereo on all channels.  But dialogue is clear and understandable.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“honey and clover” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • Cultural Terms References – Similar to the manga series, a reference to terms used on the anime series.

DISC 2:

  • Cultural Terms References – Similar to the manga series, a reference to terms used on the anime series.

DISC 3:

  • Making the Animated Opening – (10:59) A featurette about the still motion food from the opening sequence and how it was created and how the food was prepared. How 20 staff members worked for days on the opening and why they chose to make an opening so different from other anime series.
  • Cultural Terms References – Similar to the manga series, a reference to terms used on the anime series.
  • Production Art – Using your remote, you can view the various production art of each character.
  • Clean Opening and Ending
  • English Language Production Credits
  • Original Japanese Production Credits
  • Manga – Information on manga releases.
  • Viz Pictures – Trailers for Viz Pictures

I really enjoyed this first box set of “Honey and Clover”.  I figured with so many situations from the manga series, how were they going to capture the essence of Chica Umino’s characters and storyline in an anime.  But for the most part, the staff succeeded in covering the most essential parts of the series.  The jokes, the the angst, the emotions….everything hilarious and dramatic was caught and those integral scenes were featured on the anime series.

Similar to popular Japanese dramas such as “Asunaro Hakusho”, “Wakamono no Subete” or “Hakusen Nagashi”, I really enjoy stories that cover young adult life. From the parties to just hanging out with friends, meeting new people, career choices to finding love (or not finding love), “honey and clover” is one of those series that is realistic in the sense that many people can related to these characters. So, you really take an interest towards the characters and I really liked the overall development of the characters through the course of the nine chapters.

Umino’s artwork and her storytelling is enjoyable, beautiful and has a good balance of entertainment through humor and that occasional love triangle drama that pulls you in.  So, I was curious to see how much character designer Shuichi Shimamura can keep that quality and remain faithful to Umino’s work.  Sure enough, he and the crew succeeded.  Artwork is absolutely beautiful as the painted backgrounds capture the detail of the wooden home where the guys live in.  Buildings, lush scenery, colorful skies, you name it…”honey and clover” is just beautiful to look at and as mentioned earlier, voice acting in Japanese and in English are quite solid.

This is one of those anime series that will appeal appeals to both men and women courtesy of the main characters and we get to see things in each of their perspective throughout the series.  If anything, the episodes are dramatic but the series doesn’t take itself too seriously as you have the weird Morita, Hagu’s overall young look and Ayumi’s short temper helping to calm down storylines that can easily get too emotional and thus keeping the overall series lighthearted and fun.

Overall, being a big fan of the manga series, “honey and clover Box 1” is a magnificent anime release thus far.  For those looking for an anime series focusing on young adult drama, real-life situations in relationships and college and more, give “honey and clover” a try.  You’ll definitely enjoy this anime series.  Highly recommended!

 






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Comments

  • Mary Anne

    Thanks for the great review on Honey and Clover! I am very tempted on collecting the set, but before I make my purchase, I wanted to know about VIZ’s subtitles. I’ve seen it on Hulu, but the surnames are replaced with first names which makes it annoying and sometimes hard to follow through (since the characters refer to each other mainly by their surnames). Are the box set subtitles the same — replacing surnames with first names?

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