Takemoto continues his journey towards Hokkaido, and takes a rest at a shop where the elderly owner feeds him. Her story of her trip to Los Angeles reminds Takemoto of where he hasn’t gone, and how his father never got to leave Japan. He spots a red train that he remembers his father calling the North Star, one which they never got to ride together. He chases it until the bicycle crashes down an incline. Laying in the grass, Takemoto wonders about the meaning of their lives, and gains motivation to continue on. He eventually reaches the northernmost point of Japan and realizes that all he had to do was pedal forward to get there. Deciding that it was time to go home, Takemoto returns to Tokyo and finds Hagu-chan sleeping with a fever. He takes her hand and she welcomes him back. Hanamoto-sensei walks in to find them holding hands while fast asleep. The next day, Takemoto is welcomed back by everyone. His claim that he came back without finding answers still manages somehow to impress his professors. The girls want to throw a party, but Takemoto suggests that they go to a festival instead. Morita then arrives and passes Takemoto some soap, so Takemoto goes to wash up. It’s during this time that Hanamoto-sensei, Mayama, and Morita see how much Takemoto has changed and how much stronger he is now. At the festival, Takemoto realizes through his conversation with Hagu-chan that the purpose of him leaving was to find out how important the things he was leaving behind were. Knowing this, he confesses to Hagu-chan, but she can only thank him for returning home. Takemoto understands that living life and moving forward is the way to go. He also can’t hear the sound of the empty fridge anymore and continues on with his life knowing that maybe someday they’ll find what they couldn’t that one day.
The final episode basically wraps up the Takemoto storyline and brings it to a pretty satisfying conclusion. He has all sorts of realizations while he’s on the journey and when he gets back, and so his character has grown quite a bit from when we first met him at the beginning of the series or even compared to when he first started the journey. Because of the time constraints, they pretty much leave the Yamada and Morita plot alone. I feel a little cheated in that regard since we watched their relationship for so long, but yet the ending didn’t really bring that story to a close. Also, Morita got a surprisingly little amount of screen time. But they do a good job fitting what they could into one episode, and the pacing doesn’t feel off.
The final minute or so is what made me really like the finale. Never mind that they played Waltz, Takemoto’s final line about eventually finding what they were searching for that one day (the four leaf clover), really ties the series together, both in relating to an earlier episode and in the title of the show. I also enjoyed how they left Hagu-chan’s response to Takemoto’s confession open, so that they could be shown as a group of friends at the end, just like always.
Final Thoughts: Honey and Clover is a series that really wowed all of us who started watching it back in the spring. I personally feel that some of the later episodes are not as good as some of the earlier ones, but as a whole they make a great series full of laughter, friendship, and romance. With a unique watercolor feel to the animation and an astonishingly large array of insert songs by artists Spitz and Suga Shikao, this show does not disappoint. I would definitely recommend this series to anyone.