Honey and Clover 2 by Chica Umino: A

From the back cover:
Love is never easy for our heroes. Takemoto is forced to confront his resentment of his stepfather and his own feelings of being cast adrift, while Mayama and Ayu flounder in their unrequited loves and Morita faces the prospect of being held back another year.

Reading Honey and Clover for me is similar to reading Sand Chronicles in that it induces a strong feeling of nostalgia. Rather than a protagonist looking back upon a series of memories, however, in this series Takemoto will often pause mid-experience and ponder how this wonderful moment with everyone together will one day be in the past, but how he knows he’ll remember it over and over. Maybe I’m just a sucker for that sort of reflective, bittersweet vibe, but I think it adds an extra layer of meaning to the story.

The scene to which Takemoto is chiefly referring is one of the best in the volume, where everyone ends up joining Hagu in an ultimately fruitless search for a four-leaf clover to give her beloved guardian (their favorite professor) who is going away on a trip. I also really enjoy the chapter where the characters are in a frenzy trying to get their graduation projects done on time, since it means we get to see them actually doing what they’re going to school for. And who doesn’t have some kind of parallel experience from their own college days?

The volume contains a couple of love confessions, too, as Mayama and Yamada each make their feelings known to the object of their affections. Yamada’s confession is especially moving, since Mayama bears it so calmly and just lets her get it all out. I think I’m a sucker for awesome unrequited love, too.

I also want to compliment a neat trick Umino used in the course of providing some back story for Mayama’s plight. Mayama’s in love with an older woman, Rika, who was a classmate of Hanamoto-sensei. As Hanamoto recounts the tale of how he became roommates with Rika’s now-deceased husband, we see three successive panels of said husband hailing Hanamoto first by his last name, then as Shûji, then as Shû. It’s a nifty little shorthand to chart the progress of their growing friendship.

In addition to the emotional moments, there are a lot of amusing ones as well. Umino’s art style in general is a big draw for me as I do enjoy Teh Cute. I know some object to how young Hagu looks but, really, there aren’t any pervy connotations regarding her at all. My one complaint is that I still don’t quite have a handle on her personality, but maybe that’s supposed to be the point. Hagu had a very isolated upbringing, so perhaps we’ll get to know her better as she continues to flourish in her new environment. I hope so.

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  1. I just read this volume too and enjoyed it much more than the first, for all the reasons you mentioned. I think it also helped that the fawning over Hagu was kept to a minimum. Really, this book would be great if they just quietly shuffled her off the stage. I don’t think you’d lose much (other than the potential creepiness, which I know is still coming thanks to Matt Brady’s scans).

  2. And if they’d stop showing side characters saying things like, “How old is your little girl?”

  3. I don’t mind Hagu, but I do agree that she’s bordering on cipher territory. I wasn’t aware of the forthcoming creepiness, but that bums me out a little. If she only acted more mature, the notion of her being in a relationship wouldn’t be quite so icky.

  4. There’s evidently a real love it or hate it situation going on with this series. Here’s a review at ANN with an opinion quite different from mine:


  1. […] talents to analyzing vols. 1 and 2 of Cat-Eyed Boy. At Soliloquy in Blue, Michelle reviews vol. 2 of Honey and Clover, I.O.N., and Seduce Me After the Show. Lissa Pattillo checks out vol. 3 of Zombie Loan, vol. 1 of […]

  2. […] difference between mono no aware and outright nostalgia, where the former is more of-the-moment (Honey and Clover springs to mind here) while the latter would be something like the retrospective narration in Ai […]

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