FreezeFrame: The world through an artist’s eyes
“I want to open all these boxes…but a mortal life span is too short to do such a thing.
But, if I had someone to help me in my battles…if I had that person…”
As much as many people would like to deny, Honey & Clover has more or less revolved around the blonde munchkin known as Hagu. Who is this mysterious girl? Why does she rarely speak? And why is she so goddamn short? Some viewers adore her cute, childlike features; personally, I couldn’t agree more – that’s as far as her character was developed in the first season. She did indeed provide comic relief as the korobokkuru and hamu-bo, and was also the centerpiece of the Morita-Takemoto love struggle so prominent in the first season, but was she ever able to transcend her portrayal as merely an object of interest? Takemoto’s crush on Hagu began with a physical attraction to her doll-like looks (or maybe he’s pedo…) and later became more profound as he became aware of her artistic talent – a sort of fascination with how such a small body could be such a huge reservoir of ideas. Even then, all we know of Hagu is only through Takemoto’s observations – namely his comment about her giraffe painting: “Is this the world that Hagu sees?”
The world through Hagu’s eyes might indeed look beautiful to those taller than 4 feet, but what does the munchkin think? The scene shown above is taken from episode six of H&C II, in which we hear Hagu’s thoughts for the first time. It begins as a diatribe to her own limitations, but we soon find out that it’s actually a cry for help. Not for a bigger budget, a larger studio, or even more talent, but for something much harder to obtain – a soul mate. For her Kyon to come rescue her from the Melancholy of Hanamoto Hagumi. In the screenshot above, the focus actually isn’t on the unopened boxes, but rather on the lone person that stands in the midst of them. To work on projects is indeed fun and rewarding – but to do a lifetime of work alone seems almost cruel and inhumane. But wait – where else have we seen a lonely, mysterious, brilliant, yet hiccup-prone female artist?
Rika’s role in the second season then (apart from torturing Yamada), is to serve as the parallel to what Hagu could become if she never finds her soul mate. When Rika lost Harada, she became a crippled, dried up, shell of a person that was only able to move on with her life through Shuuji. Only with Shuuji’s support was Rika able to continue producing art, to continue Harada Design.
Therein lies the true mastermind behind the Hagu saga – Hanamoto Shuuji. A wonderfully deep and richly conceived character, Shuuji’s immense love for the two women in his life may sometimes be misconstrued as shallow adoration by casual observers due to his often childish and buddy-buddy behavior around his students. He has no doubt realized the parallel between Hagu and Rika and their need for a soul mate – but his solution for Hagu appears to put himself in that role. That’s rather discontenting – incestuous, even – considering Hagu sees Shuuji more as a father than a partner. More and more, however, we can see Shuuji come to realize that he can only be a temporary source of support for Hagu, before her real soul mate comes along, just as he was for Rika before she became involved with Mayama.
So where’s the main character in all of this? Takemoto remains quietly positioned on the sidelines, waiting for Hagu to answer his confession. She seemed to be on the verge of responding to him following her call for a soul mate, but a sudden hailstorm of glass shards abruptly cut that short. The look of dread on Hagu’s face as she realized she had no sensation in her fingertips – it could have just been the shock of not feeling anything – but I believe that behind those wavering eyes, a seed of regret begins to take root. That singular lifetime given to her to open those boxes had instantly been taken away. Will it eat away and rot her spirit? Or will she rise up to once again create art?
It all depends on how she sees the world now.