Wednesdays Watching Anime – Honey & Clover

September 16, 2015 § Leave a comment

Sorry for missing last week, things got crazy. Don’t worry, this week we’ve got a good one: the OP for Honey & Clover II, “Fugainai ya” by Yuki.

I’m not really used to listening to the lyrics of anime OPs. I’m not saying that they’re nonsense or anything, because that would be mean, but there’s definitely a different standard there for how a song should fit with the work that it prefaces. Sometimes, while writing these posts, I’ll make a comment about how an image in the OP maintains a certain unity of theme with the accompanying lyrics, but only if it occurs to me immediately while listening. In the songs for most OPs, the lyrics seem more like another instrument for the music to use, rather than an avenue of meaning independent from said music, although there’s a sizable subset of songs that feature the whole cast singing verses, like it’s a campfire performance or something. I haven’t done posts on many of those, although (Zan) Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei is technically one. I’ll try to do more in the future, because I quite like some, the ED for Stella Jogakuin Koutou-ka C3-bu in particular.

Anyway, I bring up lyrics now because I love those for “Fugainai ya.” They just have this recognizable emotional core that totally matches my experience of the anime at its best. The pain of loneliness, coupled with the impossibility of running away from it like we run away from so many painful things in our lives, stands for everything that I liked about Honey & Clover, especially in the character of Yamada Ayumi. As I wrote so long ago, she is impossibly in love with Mayama Takumi, who cannot love her back for a variety of reasons and therefore encourages her to find someone else, even though he knows it’s never going to be that easy. Yamada’s toxic cocktail of emotions — her gratitude at being handled with care by someone who doesn’t return her feelings, her fury at being pushed away by him, her need to be something important to him, and, above all, her fear that this all-consuming love, excruciating though it is for her to have right now, is something that will pass with time and lose all meaning to her — is clearly represented to me in the lyrics of the song, especially the near-screaming refrains of “I hate it,” “It’s so difficult / It hurts so much,” and “It’s so cowardly.” I wonder if the rawness of the lines is intentional or if Yuki’s singing voice is always like that… Nope, just checked a few YouTube videos and she’s quite melodious elsewhere!

Even leaving Yamada aside, the song has motifs that resonate with the whole of Honey & Clover. In particular, lines about clouds clearing, snow melting, and seasons changing, which seem like positive things at first blush, come off as shallow and even impertinent alongside other lines about getting older and growing familiar with things. Honey & Clover does have several arcs that involve rainy and wintry weather, but it also just has hardship, for all of its characters. The storyline about Hanamoto Hagu, as much as I hated it, is consonant with the one about Yamada in asserting that sad, difficult, or boring things become precious to us with time, simply because of how much of ourselves we end up investing in them. Depending on how sentimental you are, they might even be essential to the beauty of a life. Honey & Clover is certainly that sentimental, and that’s a strength of its writing. Whatever else you might say about it, the show handles the passage of time and the growth of its characters more evenly than any other “school days” anime that I’ve yet to see. Good or bad, people change. It’s just what they do. They come together and then grow apart, however much you hate it and however much it hurts.

Yeah.

I really don’t know what to say about the visual aspects of the OP, though. Even considering that it was made in 2006, it looks more like an art project for a college class on computer animation and, as far as I can tell, the unicorn-lion-poodle-duck stack is some flight of fancy by Yuki, since it appears in her music video with no other references to the OP. Just… I don’t know, don’t ask me. I know the syrup at the end is the “honey” of Honey & Clover and that’s it.

Mayama and Yamada from Honey & Clover

Mayama and Yamada from Honey & Clover

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