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This is a past article published in Hiragana Times. Each Japanese paragraph is followed by its English translation or vise versa, and furigana are placed above each kanji to make Japanese study even easier. [Magazine Sample] [Subscription Page]

Bygone Days Still Beautiful

[From January Issue 2015]

201501-9-1

Honey and Clover, Cover of issue 1. Written by UMINO Chika. Published by Shueisha Inc. Total 10 volumes.
© 羽海野チカ/集英社

Honey and Clover

Set in an art school, this work depicts the exploits of a group of young people who are awkwardly falling in love while trying to puzzle out their own futures. The series started in 2000, and was completed in 2006 after twice switching to different magazines. The animated cartoon televised in 2005 was so popular that a sequel was made the following year, and movie and TV drama adaptations have also been produced.

Along with his friends, who are attending the same school, TAKEMOTO Yuta lives a carefree life in a rundown apartment. One day he meets a young woman called HANAMOTO Hagumi. Due to enter art school the following academic year, she is on her way to visit her relative, the lecturer HANAMOTO Shuji. Takemoto falls in love the moment he sees Hagumi. However, at the same time, MORITA Shinobu, his senior, is also attracted to Hagumi.

Bowled over by Hagumi, who works on her art as if possessed, Takemoto gradually falls in love. Hagumi is blessed with an innate artistic talent, while Morita’s talents extend even beyond the artistic sphere, so the two are naturally drawn to each other. Takemoto, who considers himself to be mediocre, has an inferiority complex, so his heart is shaken by conflicting feelings of admiration and frustration towards the two.

Takemoto gradually realizes that Hagumi is experiencing a lot of pressure and is feeling isolated. Because she’s been praised for her talents from a young age, her classmates keep their distance from her, so until she meets Takemoto, she has no friends. Rather than force his feelings onto her, Takemoto decides to watch over Hagumi. In order to regain what she was unable to acquire before, Hagumi makes wonderful memories with Takemoto and friends.

Their limited school days draw to a close. While those around him choose their future careers, Takemoto’s job search falters and he buckles under the stress. In the end he repeats the year, postponing his graduation. When he finally obtains a promise of employment, the company goes bankrupt, so a brooding Takemoto sets off on an aimless bicycle trip. After spending a long period traveling, Takemoto sorts out his feelings and returns to his friends. And, though knowing that he will be rejected, he confesses his feelings to Hagumi.

Having considered Takemoto to be a close friend, Hagumi is perplexed. Additionally, just before graduation, a tragic event befalls Hagumi. Both Takemoto and Morita reach out to support Hagumi, but the decision that Hagumi arrives at massively alters her relationship with them.

The suffering caused by being unable to let someone know you like them and the angst that comes from being unable to visualize one’s own future are experiences anyone can identify with. Both for those people who hold something dear to their heart and for those who never look back, there is meaning in time spent together. This is what this story teaches us.

Text: HATTA Emiko


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