Hachimitsu to clover [2000]

Hachimitsu to clover or Honey and clover was a manga in 2000.

Manga was serialized from 2000 to 2006 and ended with 10th volume. Anime exists in 2 seasons, accounting for 36 episodes. Season 1 had 24 episodes. Season 2 had 12 episodes.

I have the Korean version of this manga.

Now, the simplest way of describing this anime is that, Life has up and downs, and that there is usually light at the end of a dark tunnel. Well, usually.

Anime adaptation follows the source material closely, However, the latter part of the story, AKA the dark side, has been shortened in season 2. Therefore, I suggest manga over anime.

The series begins with a bunch of university students living their cheerful lives. You may mistake this series as a chaotic comedic story early on. But, oh boy, it gets pretty dark midway.

In fact, the first and second half of the story feels so different that it feels like there are two authors. The first half deals with quirks each character has and makes pretty good comedic moments with them.

The second half of the story explains why they behave the way they do. Again, it gets pretty dark. I’d like to specify that it’s not just dark mood. For an example, a certain character in the series simply wants to end her life in a subtle way without making a fuss or letting others know that she is suffering deeply.
She wishes to end her life genuinely. The only reason she still lives is because she has some unfinished businesses.

And another girl has little will to go on after getting PTSD from expectations of peers. She is still cheerful outside, but she is dying inside.

You see, they may be smiling brightly on outside, but when you fake-smile long enough, it comes naturally enough to fool others.

I feel like this series takes a well-aimed shot at the Japanese society as whole. In Japan, people are usually kind. They smile brightly ever. But just because they smile, it does not mean they are happy and everything is well. When a society forces everyone to behave cheerfully, you can no longer take smiles as a sign of happiness.

Conversely, it also does not mean grumpy people are unhappy. It could be that it is just the way they are. I believe I am an example of that. On surface, I do not smile much if at all. Am I unhappy? Well, I am content. I don’t feel happiness a lot. Most of time, I am just content. Being content means you just take things as they are whether they are good or bad.

Life has ups and downs after all. “So be it,” I often whisper to myself.

Finally, the art of this series is rather unique, especially when you compare with today’s (2022) style. It’s very rough in manga, and it looks like water painting in anime. Overall, I like it.

In a way, this series is comparable with Nana. Both are slice of life series. Both feature adult characters. Both feature booze. But characters in Nana are far more relatable, at least in my eyes.

Anime or manga?

In this case, manga simply because the conclusion of the story isn’t there in the anime. I don’t know why season 2 has only 12 episodes. It warranted 24 episodes just like season 1.

So, if you want to see the end of the story, manga is the only way.

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