Honey & Clover II – 7 – Bleeding with a flickering hope in life

As far as hyperbole goes, this was quite possibly my favourite episode of Honey & Clover II. No doubt I could say that after every episode- but this seventh instalment particularly deserves praise for violently jamming the second season in a completely different (and darker) direction.
It’s not that I was getting sick of the likes of Yamada angsting over the same old melodramatic things, instead I’m simply enthused to see an episode more akin to the first season- a somewhat sad story filled with life-affecting, thought provoking symbolism and philosophy.
Tatsuo cuts an absolutely ambiguous character; morally what he does to Tsukasa Morita is wrong, yet his sympathetic envy is so well emphasized through the use of some touching symbolism. His best friend can fly, so why can’t he? What makes him so damn special? As individuals we’re all brought up to feel one of a kind, destined for greatness. But when the harsh reality of life kicks in, and we find ourselves stuck in the shadows of others, how should we react – after all, realising you live a mediocre life sucks.
Typically the ever changing colour scheme and art work for this episode matched the muted, sombre tone with such whimsical aplomb. My favourite scenes included Tatsuou and Kaoru’s walk through an open expanse of beautiful golden fields; such expressive, emotive style bleeding with a flickering hope in life.

6 replies on “Honey & Clover II – 7 – Bleeding with a flickering hope in life”

My problem with the Ayu/Mayama/Rika storyline is that it really slipped into soap/melodrama toward the end. Mayama’s choice ceased to be a question in the first season and it left only him and Rika in a rather creepy, quasi-relationship, while Ayu didn’t even try to mend her broken heart. And while I know that this is how it usually goes IRL, I want a story, not a documentary. I know that it takes time to get over something like this, but I hoped they’d speed up the developments a little bit. It’s like Ayu came to a kind of halt – one or two steps forward, one step back, and she always ends up in tears. (It doesn’t help that having read the manga to the end, I’m a bit disappointed in the treatment Ayu got.)
As for this episode (and indeed the whole Morita family storyline), it was just heartbreakingly beautiful and human. Also, what really struck me was the difference between H&C in general and anime series hyped as "deep," "philosophical" or "mature." To me, those series usually come off as pretentious and superficial. For me, the simple beauty and humanity of H&C makes it much more "deep" than stuff like Evangelion or the new favorite, Elfen Lied. (Elfen Lied as "deep" and "philosophical." Ha, that’s a good one.)

kuromitsu – as Ayu herself kept stating, and as Nomiya pointed out, she kept herself hurting because it was safe, because Mayama was safe, and it was a precious thing to her; this tragedy of hers was something known and stable and a thing that wouldn’t involve any risks to her emotional well being outside of the usual angst-fest that being around Mayama when he was thinking of Rika involved. At the end of Episode 5, she herself says as much… although her heart is softening towards Nomiya a bit, in the face of his confession and his dogged determination to be there in a way that is somewhat reminiscent of Mayama’s own pursuit of Rika with his own desire to be present and helpful when needed. Ayu’s noticed this in him, and having someone do the same for her gives her some comfort… even if she’s feeling like she’s betraying her feelings for Mayama and cheapening them by starting to feel anything for someone else.
It’s unfortunately quite true to the manga and real life – and I rather like how the story with her is going… since everywhere else we see people moving on or going quickly past their feelings to the point where they’re moving ridiculously fast. Here, it’s a little more open-ended.
As far as philosophical anime goes, the difference between this and NGE or GITS:SAC is that it’s very human in the nature of its philosophy and concerns; the latter two delve deeply into religion, characters throwing the words of philosophers at one another, and working at a high level where feelings and motivations are more abstract than visceral. H&C goes the other route – the motivations and actions here are based on things anyone can understand, and very basic things, rather than going off into the realm of the seminar-level lecture hall discussions.

Yes, I know that, and in fact, having once been in a similar situation, I totally understand Ayu. It’s just that while I really appreciate the realism, it’s not very good in terms of story, IMO. A story like hers needs character development, and Ayu has become quite static ever since she accepted that Mayama wasn’t going to leave Rika. She’s been dealing with the situation in a "one step forward, one step back" way. Nomiya has managed to help her start getting over the whole thing, but that goes horribly slowly, and while I know that’s how real life works, it still feels as if Ayu’s character became set in stone, so to speak. (Especially seeing how she is at the end, compared to the other characters. I’m not writing spoilers, but… well, Nomiya is apparently just too good to be true.)
As for philosophical anime… I forgot to mention that I think Eva is actually pretentious and rather superficial. ^^;; GITS:SAC is a different case, though, and I’d actually lump it together with Hachikuro in the "mature" category… which is, I think, the difference between stuff like GITS or H&C and stuff like Eva. The former manage to address its issues without the need for overblown symbols and pretentious dialogues (well, not often)… But, well, that may be just my preferences talking.

I loved GITS:SAC, don’t get me wrong, but I do think that the philosophy there’s so abstract that many viewers will miss it, even with the help of a cram book’s worth of references. Some of it’s very basic (what it means to be human, the difference between AIs and humans to figure out what a ‘soul’ is – see the Tachikomas – and whether humans can be separated from the shell – the body – and remain human even in a non-human form)… and parts of it go so far bloody out that it’d take a philosophy major to guide most of the viewers through even the highlights.
Hachikuro, on the other hand, is very down to earth as you noted – it’s stuff everyone’s either gone through or has seen others go through, and the way that they take what are otherwise cliches (love triangles, etc) and make them more personal because of the way people sympathize or empathize with the characters is simply marvellous. However, as far as Ayu’s story goes… I think that’s the point – it doesn’t go. She can’t move on, and she said as much way back in the first season when talking about the beefsteak tomato plant that had been damaged by the typhoon winds. She can’t bring herself to break it off, even when she knows it’s futile, although she isn’t completely ruling out the possibility that sometime, in some far future, she may finally move on.

I think I’m closer to siding with kuromitsu on the whole Yamada issue. As much as it is a very realistic portrayal of the fact that she is clealy still in love with Mayama (irregardless of his feelings), it’s getting annoying watching her tear up and angst about him in almost every episode. It’s more an issue of entertainment (for me) than realism. We needed a break from her story and thankfully, got it.
Also- if we’re talking about pretentious anime, we have to mention Ergo Proxy. Although it’s improved since episode 11+, the majority of it is as cold, abstract and impenitrible as your typical Mamoru Oshii movie. Compared with Honey & Clover- where the symbolism and philosophy is conveyed in relatable human ways, Ergo Proxy feels positively alien.

It’s annoying – but there’ll be worse things ahead. Her lack of relationship’s almost a relief compared to some of the things to come… especially given that I’m personally tired of how they usually go the other route in manga and anime (she gets over it, gets the other guy, everyone’s happy, etc).
Ergo Proxy… well, from what I can tell, the ending kinda makes it clear why everything’s alien. Interesting point about the Mamoru Oshii movies though – that highly stylized way of storytelling (the art movie) is lauded by critics, but isn’t usually a success at the box office. I think GITS 2: Innocence was one of the few exceptions that, if only because there was precisely ONE relatively ‘human’ interaction – and that was between Batou and his dog.
GITS:SAC does dip into Oshii-style stories precisely twice: EP 2 of 2nd Gig, and then Ep 11 – the first is strictly Oshii-style, and is probably the one episode of 2nd Gig (or SAC in generally) that I actively disliked. The second example is surreal in the Oshii way, but it keeps the human touches which make SAC more appealing, especially in the interaction between the paralyzed boy and cyborg girl, on top of how the story’s told by the storekeeper.

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