(Originally written around May-June 2014)
Honey & Clover
Finally got around to finishing this, and it was really good. I watched the final 10 episodes in only 2 sittings, which is very unusual for me nowadays. The best thing about the show was how disconnected the character stories were. They were all happening pretty much simultaneously, but the show never focused on all of them equally in the span of one episode. For instance, at one point there was a series of several episodes which focused on one story, during which small bits of a completely different character’s internal monologues were shown. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the first story sort of paused and the other character’s personal story got the spotlight. This may sound quite odd and off-putting, but I really liked how the transitions were done. It prevented the show from having only one main character, which was refreshing.
Unfortunately, this aspect of the show was also sort of its weakness, because the lack of a coherent and solid single storyline made it quite difficult to continue caring about the show at certain points. After all, it took me over a year to watch the show from start to finish.
Now this is a good show! This show is probably most famous for its first episode(for reasons that I will not explain due to spoilers), but I liked it in its entirety. It has action(which is very well animated at times), romance(though it should be noted that platonic love is a strong theme), comedy(not too much, just enough to provide a breather after some of the heavier stuff) and drama. It’s not a lighthearted show, which made me very happy. Due to the structure of the storytelling, the story has a sense of urgency that I found enjoyable, but it could also be a dealbreaker for people who like their stories told in a certain way. Also, the OP of the show, which is first heard in the 3rd episode(for a good reason, so don’t watch it before watching the show if you want maximum mystery), is kick-ass. It’s also not terribly difficult to sing along to.
In my opinion, the shows biggest weakness is that it’s an anime-original prequel to a manga. It forces the ending to be fairly unsatisfying and non-conclusive, and if one has read the manga, it also puts constraints on what exactly can happen in the anime(luckily, I hadn’t read the manga, so I had no idea what would happen). However, I also think that the fact that it’s a prequel is the show’s greatest strength, for many of the same reasons that I mentioned above. The things that force the aforementioned constraints are stuff like the characters and the setting already existing, meaning that the writers of the show had time to work on more intricate details such as character interaction and action scenes, both of which I thought were excellent. In addition, while the ending wasn’t the most satisfying or conclusive, it was also not terrible, which I guess is a plus. Well, not that I was concerned about bad direction at any point, since the show is directed by Ei Aoki(of Fate/Zero and Kara no Kyoukai 1 fame).