Honey & Clover: Complete Collection Part 3 (of 3) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, April 02, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, March 16, 2010
The second season brings us more of stupid young people being stupid when it comes to relationships.
What They Say
Yuta returns from his journey of self-discovery only to find everyone around him deep in their own struggles to shape their futures. Ayumi finds herself increasingly included in projects involving Takumi and Rika, and the strain is breaking her. Far away in America, Shinobu and his brother's endless quest for money finally helps them achieve their ultimate goal, while back home Hagumi must face the devastating consequences of an accident that could change her life forever. Can the pursuit of happiness and the pursuit of art ever be one and the same?
Honey and Clover has a bilingual presentation with the English language adaptation done by Salami Studios. Both the English and Japanese mixes are done in stereo and encoded at 224kbps. The series has a very straightforward presentation to it with some minor directionality across the forward soundstage, but nothing that's too noticeable. In some ways it feels like an older show than it is because there isn't all that much to it. A lot of the time there's only one character talking on screen at a time so it doesn't have a lot to work with. What it does do it does well though with a clean sounding mix for both language tracks that's free of dropouts and distortions.
Originally airing throughout 2006, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The twelve episodes here are split across three discs in a four/four/four format. There's plenty of space on each disc for a good looking presentation and we do get one, with smooth colors and a generally clean look. There are several night scenes where the skies show some blocking going on in the background, but they're not regular and they don't distract all that much unless you're sensitive to it. Overall this is a good looking show, but it gets some seriously dropped points for the amount of hard subtitles used in it for background signs and on screen thought-text from the characters. DVD has been around for twelve years as of this writing and hard subtitles are still being done by Viz which is simply boggling.
Honey and Clover has a rather good digipak release here with a slipcover style design to it. The slipcover has a manga illustration for its front cover with Yuta and Hagu standing side by side with big grins on their faces as they hold hands while shamrocks fall around them. The layout is simple with its design, with an appropriate light feeling, and it definitely showcases itself as a shoujo kind of show. The back of the slipcover has a number of shots from the show spread about with a very light and almost loving feeling to them. The summary is a bit short, but works well enough and there's a clear listing of the shows features and episode count as well as the extras that are included. I do continue to wish that Viz would make proper technical grids so that everything could be find easily.
Inside the slipcover is a well design digipak that doesn't have multiple foldout pieces but rather just opens like a book. The front of the digipak uses the same front cover as the slipcover while the back cover is just the same pattern as on the front cover with no artwork to be found, which feels pretty plain as even the previous set had a little something on it. Inside the digipak, it opens up to two disc holders, the one on the right holding two discs, while underneath there are numerous shots from the show that highlight the episode that they represent with the title and episode number below it. The overall design is good and the set has a bit more of a firm feeling to it than the sets like Naruto, so this set has left me feeling pretty pleased.
The menus for Honey and Clover run with the static design by having each menu different with background scenes that are soft and appealing with scenic outdoor pictures. The menus do have a lonely feeling to them because there isn't any character artwork to it since it keeps to just the scenes of nature. It has a mildly upbeat tone to all of it and a clean navigation set which also includes the translation notes as a separate top level extras. Submenus load quickly and without any interstitial animation and the languages submenu does a nice job of actually showing what's active for the selections. The discs did not read our players' language presets though unfortunately.
The extras for this release are pretty decent as we get a few things of note. The first is that we do get more cultural notes here, though they’re all kept on the third volume instead of their respective volumes making them a touch less useful. A new selection of production artwork is included as well as clean versions of the opening and closing sequences which are welcome. Full credits are provided for each episode in a separate video scroll that’s in this section which is an interesting way of doing it, but credit where credit is due in actually offering all the credits which is sometimes difficult for Viz Media to do. The big extras here is the video karaoke section that runs about eight minutes long and provides the karaoke material in both English subtitles and romaji subtitles so you can sing along in whichever way you like. Karaoke’s always a fun extra and it’ce nice to see Viz dabble in this a bit.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first season of the series ran with twenty-six episodes, a second season was kicked off with just twelve episodes in order to wrap everything up. The first season of the series dealt with a lot of material in the manga but a year after that season ended, the manga drew to a close. A month prior to the finale though, this season of the anime kicked off and added a little more life to everything after the end of the manga for fans. Unfortunately, much like the first season of the series, this season drags things out even more with characters that really don't know what they want and really don't belong with each other.
With the first season not really resolving anything for obvious reasons, this one does provide for resolution across the board. All of it happens towards the very end of the season so that means we get quite a few episodes to stretch things out. This set kicks off with a brief recap of things which does help a bit in making everything clearer again but it also points out that very little was really accomplished in all those episodes beyond most of the characters going in circles with their lives and relationships, mostly because they're unable to really make a decision. With this being all about the relationships, we'll just look at each of those in how they play out across the set.
One of the relationships that has mostly dominated the series is the one between Ayumi and Takumi and Rika. There's a lot of history to this relationship, history that ties to Shu as well though he keeps out of it for the most part here until the end. Takumi is doing his best to be there for Rika as he's decided to throw himself completely into her service while waiting for the day that she realizes what she has in front of her or that his presence helps to heal here. Ayumi's still unsure of what she wants out of things but she finds herself spending time with both of them through her artwork and projects which are doing very well for Rika's company. Takumi spends some very good quality time with just her, but it's time that paints how bad off Rika is after the loss of her husband. It's a complicated set of occurrences that happen between these three but none of them really seem like they deserve each other. They deserve better, though Rika may be the only one who deserves the attention Takumi gives her.
In some ways, it's surprising how much time is spent on that trio as it never felt like it was the main thrust of the series. Conversely, with Yuta being such an uninteresting guy even after all his heavy riding in the previous set, this isn't a bad thing. Yuta, Shinobu and Shu have all long had an interest in Hagu. All three men have an interest in her but Hagu has seem uncertain about all of them for different reasons as well as simply not being interested in anything like that. She's long held an interest in Shinobu but Shinobu's been an odd guy for so long with how he works so much and ends up overseas while never finishing out his college career. It makes it hard for Hagu to really latch onto him and Shinobu's own ways make it hard for him to make himself accessible.
There's a really good story, probably the only one I actually liked across both seasons, involves the back story for Shinobu and the resolution to it. One episode here deals heavily with just looking at his past with his father and his older brother Kaoru. The story of how his father worked his business with his best friend and a group of very likeminded people, only to have it stolen out from them, explains a lot about his personality. The promises he made back then have resonated with him ever since and made him who he is. What makes it work all the better is when the story shifts back to the present with his brother and we see the culmination of his money hoarding for so long and how even though it's right in its way, it conflicts him as well and he does the right thing by those he's gotten payback on.
What becomes frustrating when it sticks to the present and to the four people involved in this awkward non-relationship is that none of them really seem right. Shinobu has been flippant and distant from her. Yuta doesn't seem like he has anything to offer in a relationship and it never comes across that Hagu sees him in any sort of romantic way. And Shu... Shu is the only one who seems right but a lot of his interest comes across as the whole protective element of someone that he's known for a long time. There's a love there but it doesn't come across as a romantic love, never mind something that would be physical. It's not the ages or even the appearance of Hagu but just the way the pair never seem to click as an actual couple but instead as relatives in a way.
An awkward situation like this can really only been resolved by a game changing event and that comes when Hagu gets caught in an accident and ends up in the hospital for awhile. With her way of life basically threatened, it's a time for everyone to rally around her which turns into one of the last times the entire gang is back together as well. It's a forced event to have Hagu injured like this and to threaten the very thing that makes her who she is, but it again reminds us that there's really nothing else to most of these characters outside of their core trait and who they're interested in. This is normal for a lot of shows but where this one lives and dies by the characters and who they are and how they feel about each other, it has a bit more impact.
In watching this second season of the series, it reminded me of how little impact the first season left and how little really got resolved here. While there are a few characters and the relationships are complicated, it's all of their own doing and they continually torment themselves over and over. They don't bemoan their situation, which is a plus, but they don't really try to change it either. Events here made me want to throttle the characters more than anything else and I didn't feel sympathetic for any of them outside of Hagu when she faced having the very reason for her life taken away from her. The only plus I can give to this set is that it is only twelve episodes and it does bring things to a resolution. But I didn't care about any of it either after thirty eight episodes which is why this gets graded so low.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Production Artwork, Voice Actor Karaoke, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: D+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Viz Media
Running time: 270
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Honey & Clover