Honey and Clover, Box 2 – DVD Review

Review by: Brenda Gregson

Publisher: VIZ Media
MSRP: $59.98 US
Running Time: 300 minutes
Genre: Romance/Comedy
Rating: T+ (Older Teen)
Release Date: Available Now

If a heart breaks does it make a sound?

An office favorite even among the boys in this office, Chica Umino’s hilarious and deep manga series, Honey and Clover, is one of those series that deserves to have an anime version and you can imagine our delight when VIZ Media has brought us the first box set. The series continues with Box 2 of Honey and Clover as the focus falls on Mayama and Yamada’s relationship and Takemoto takes a journey of self-discovery in the more dramatic yet still funny second part.

After Morita got on a plane and disappeared from Hagu’s life, Takemoto begins to wonder if he would like the eccentric art genius to come back. He even asks Hagu if she would like the young man to come back and she gives him an answer Takemoto wasn’t expecting. It’s funny how, while absent, Morita’s presence still lingers and affects those around him. Should he feel happy that his rival in love is out of the picture?

Speaking of love, Yamada invites them all to a fireworks festival and thinks it might be cute to put on a yukata and even Hagu likes the idea but the truth is that she doesn’t get all dressed up for tradition’s sake but to impress Mayama who is still very much in love with Rika Harada despite not working with her anymore. Mayama works for a different design company with two very appealing co-workers (one of which owns a cute dog) and Nomiya … a young man Mayama looks up to in this business.

While he respects the man’s work ethics, Mayama does not like the fact that he has taken a keen interest in Yamada after a chance meeting during the fireworks festival. Nomiya is known to be a ladies man who loves them and leaves them and he clearly has eyes for the attractive young Yamada. So begins a sort of rivalry between Mayama and Nomiya, although Mayama seems only interested in protecting a friend. Nomiya, on the other hand, has a most interesting theory on who he wants to protect Yamada so intently.

Of course, it might not be easy to protect a girl who is so totally clueless and, after Nomiya hires Yamada for her pottery design, things get even more awkward now that the girl that loves him is now showing up at work. On top of that, Nomiya takes Yamada out for soba on a long-distance road trip together after having just met not too long ago. Little by little, Yamada’s heart begins to break and it starts to show by her constant drinking and that she kicks Mayama unconscious even more frequently now.

Things get even more complicated when the design company where he works – run but the outrageous twins Mario and Luigi – decides to break the company in half with one half working in Tokyo and the other in a different city. Mayama doesn’t accept being moves far from the woman who loves and decides to work with Rika-san again. In an interesting twist of events, Rika and Yamada meet for the first time as it comes to the younger woman attention that Mayama works alongside her.

Aside from the Mayama-Yamada-Rika love triangle, the series also focuses on Takemoto who is so busy working on his final project that he collapses under the heavy strain. In the hospital he is glad to find support from his stepfather and – in a surprising twist – Morita makes a return from America with a prestigious award for his artistic work in a Hollywood movie called “Space Titanic.”

Interestingly enough, though, the best part about Box 2 is Takemoto’s sudden inspiration to keep pedaling on with his bike with no real destination in mind. Everything quickly comes to the understanding that the young man when on a sudden journey of self-discovery and – in a way – Takemoto’s journey is an enlightening one as he comes across various people including a group of temple restorers who restore the young man’s faith in himself. When he returns to the school we can see the change the journey had on him.

While shifting to a more dramatic tone than the first 13 episodes, Box 2 isn’t without its livelier moments and its sense of humor hasn’t been lost in the serious mood of these episodes. Watching Yamada run from a group of potential suitors who have come to ask for her hand in marriage at the same time is a highlight and Morita – after having come back with his award – decides to give his mentor one last heart attack before he becomes some other teacher’s nightmare. At this point, Morita will never leave art school.

Box 2 of Honey and Clover is an emotional rollercoaster as the story reveals the even more complicated side of each love triangle and the desperation of two people trying to make sense of their lives. As Yamada tries to cling to her love for Mayama, it is Takemoto who tries to find meaning in his life and thus finds something about him that changes the young man’s life. We are so looking forward to Box 3 of this amazing series.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A-
The Mayama-Yamada relationship becomes more complicated when one of Mayama’s coworkers starts showing interest in Yamada. Meanwhile, a change in the design company where he works makes a change that forces him to quit and work with the woman he loves and you better believe this move crushes Yamada’s spirit. In the meantime, Takemoto’s problems begin to pile on so he gets on his bicycle and pedals off away in search for answers.

VIDEO QUALITY: A
The animation is still true to Chica Umino’s art with the cute and very comedic sight gags intact. This series definitely looks great on DVD so that also makes this worth the purchase price.

AUDIO QUALITY: B
The English dub voices aren’t bad at all but I still think Honey and Clover is best watched in its original Japanese language track. There’s just something about the Japanese actors that make Morita and Hagu sound true to the character.

EXTRAS: A
There are a number of extras here that outshine the first box set including a Episode 1 “screening tea party” media event with the director of the anime, the Japanese voice actor for Hagumi and Chica Umina herself (although her face is covered by her cute teddy bear persona from the manga). We also get a peek at the 2005 Tokyo International Anime Fair where some Honey and Clover cast and crew showed up. In another feature, personality Kiba-chan tries his hand at voice acting in the role of Midori (the poodle). There’s also production art, clean opening and closing theme songs and trailers aplenty.

OVERALL: A
While the first half of the series was on the verge of being beautiful and moving, it is Box 2 of Honey and Clover that steals the show with a deeply involving, complex and brilliant 13 episodes. This part of the series also showcases Chica Umino’s amazing writing and her power to convey actual emotions. Honey and Clover fans, this is one box set you do not want to miss.

Review copy provided by VIZ Media

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