“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.


  1. bored so i thought up some more of those “moments” we remember most in anime

    be warned some spoilers for those of you who dont pay any attention to anime in recent…and past history

    – first time i saw ssj goku (godlike moment…i was 8 screw you bastards)
    – when freedom appeers in seed
    – kaede in beserker mode (she coulda killed alot a people with that…er boxcutter…)
    – riku rapeing (bin said before but w/e)
    – when saber dies in fsn
    – when gaulin doesnt die in FMP/Tsr (again been said)
    – tessa drunk in TSR OAV ^^
    – nana’s removeable arms and legs (lmao that was funny)
    – the sonozaki torture girls from higurashi
    – noein in total emo reck
    – rahxephon’s quon and her weird “front hook” thingy
    – shana-tan rideing the dog ^^
    – honoka in her psp
    – when optimus prime dies (yes i actually watched the old transformers movie)
    – haruhi’s healthy girl rant (and the rest of the series along with it)
    – azumanga’s drifting classroom (if you know this YOUR A PERV…and so am i…ugh!)
    – totoro!
    – the sailor suits in sailor moon (who the hell would forget)
    – karura’s big ass sword (how the hell does she carry that thing)
    – omnimon….that was pretty awesome (AGAIN I WAS 10 its not my fault)
    – the crazy ass sword chick from black lagoon
    – invincable chamber maid again from lagoon
    – the ending movie for starblazers(the english version…of yamato..something somethin)
    – tomari’s anti gravity hair
    – when rei dies again….
    – rei/lilith exposing herself in public (my god those poor children could see her….well she wasnt wearing anything so ill leave it too the imagination…)
    – when asuka apparently dies
    – the mod soul from bleach
    – clouds big ass sword
    – the mai otome manga…even bigger joke than the anime
    – haruhi’s crossdressing father (i would run away from him)
    – when yu lan and yu fan die….(only evil charactars i didnt want to die)(did i spell it right?)
    – natsuki without panties episode of mai hime
    – shizuru/natsuki lesbian romance (come on thats why you watched it isnt it)
    – when aylssa dies and miyu barries her (actually felt sorry for her)
    – shiho’s ridiculus robe in mai otome ending
    – all those random sword impalements sunrise makes
    – when revy(levy?) and sword chick fight over who kills first

    those are the moments in anime i remember most….that or im just suffering from anime relapse…so to be hangover….only problem is that there will never be a time when is say im going to stop watching anime now…….ugh

  2. Wow, even if u didn’t watch honey and clover. Juz by lookin at the screenshot and the wordings, the whole thing looks so philosophical. It seems like it doesn’t juz apply to the anime itself but oso to the daily encounters that we haf in life. 🙂

  3. although it was a bit off topic, i enjoyed reading adramelech’s comment, made me remember it all over again, some i knew instantly, some i had to think about to remember.
    at least jaalin won’t run out of topics for a while ^^

    I said it before and i’ll say it again:
    yamada and morita should get together. In s1, he was who she always went to when crying over Mayama.

    that may seem off topic because we’re talking about hagu but it would be interesting to see how she would cope with it. For instance, if the story went that way, would she go to Takemoto in tears because morita was taken or truely respond to his love as described above.

  4. Hell right with Hagu!

    But you forget something… as far as she may wish to share her life with someone; at the same time she doesn’t want to impose her feelings over that person; to her that would be the worst case scenario possible.

    It doesn’t matter if she can’t open all those “Pandora boxes” (in a good meaning), for her that’s irrelevant as long as she keep doing it alone. Hagu-chan cries out in silence for help; because she can’t stand it anymore, alone and her pain will increase now that she probably (I think) her sensations over her right hand will never come back.

    Honey & Clover is one of those “Slice of Life” series that is glad to see, because makes so clear something as beautiful as love and be loved…

    Way to go for this kind of topics…

    Syaoran Li
  5. Another aside note for Hagu & Shuuji

    Indeed, Shuuji learn to love Rika a long time ago, since the three of them live together (when Harada was alive). They were friends, good friends, supporting each other, like our “gang” does: Morita, Takemoto, Yamada, Mayama and Hagu. But I don’t think Shuuji thinks of Hagu more like a daughter; he wants to protect her from any harm, any cruel truth of this world (if you remember the first season, Shuuji didn’t hesitate an instant after knowing that Hagu wants to study art). You have a good point making the parallelism between Hagu and Rika, the only difference was that Rika felt guilty after Harada’s dead, something that she thinks was her fault. That’s why she tried to keep everyone out of her life, including Shuuji. And thanks to the stubbornness of Mayama, maybe there is hope for her.

    With only 2 episodes more to go (last Thursday was the 10th); a lot of questions maybe never would get an answer… hope so Hagu-chan find her resolution, because love can’t be imposed, it has to be shared equality.

    Man, what am I doing on my Sunday’s afternoon ^_^

    Syaoran Li
  6. You’ll never get fan-service in a pure Slice of Life series…

    There is no need for it…
    That’s why this kind of series was so marvelous, fantastic and beautiful…

    Honey & Clover belong to that select group now.

    Syaoran Li
  7. Ah, excellent point Syaoran. Rika’s guilt does seem to be the defining difference between the two – however, I ask you this – do you think Hagu feels guilty for not having a soul mate? Does she attribute it to her own weaknesses that she is unable to find one? Her reliance on Shuuji throughout the first season (remember her mini-date with Morita left her in tears) might have alienated other people, especially Takemoto.

    Why she hasn’t given Takemoto a straight answer still boggles me. Perhaps she thought that he wasn’t “on her level” yet? Wasn’t able to provide her with the inspiration she wanted from her soul mate?

    It’s like you said – only a few more episodes to get these all resolved. Personally, I don’t think Hagu and Takemoto will ever get together, at least not by the end of the series. This raises an interesting issue, however – suppose Hagu does make a full recovery and things are restored to how they were. Would that be considered a triumph? While she would be able to continue with her art, she still wouldn’t have addressed the issue of finding a partner for inspiration.

    Well, all that is unlikely to happen in only two or three episodes. Following the “spinning wheel” theme that’s been prevalent throughout the entire series – the scenery changes and life goes on.

    I just hope it’s not some sappy, generic ending with the five of them walking off into the sunset.

  8. Man, don’t talk about sunsets; I hate them since Pokemon (when I still lot at it) use that scene to finish every single episode… nine years and the people don’t tire of it. Well, that’s another topic.

    I’m agree with you about Hagu being unable to find a life mate because her own weaknesses; but at the same time, as Rika did, Hagu doesn’t let anybody, except for Shuuji, near to her. She was happy when Takemoto return after his two-month travel around Japan, but… anything else? Takemoto were straight with his feelings, not waiting to her an immediately answer, but knowing very wall that Hagu isn’t ready for that kind of relationship. As you said, the life goes on, everyone find its own path, make their choices and live with it.

    One of those five (probably Takemoto) will keep searching for a meaning in his life.

    Syaoran Li
  9. please god never bring up the pokemon/digimon plauge that stole so many young minds and pretty much ruined my generation…and the one after…*crawls into corner and goes into emo breakdown*

  10. Gomen nasai, bad manners never die

    A little out of topic again, it’s a shame how the merchandise and market interests can ruin a show with potential (really don’t know if Pokemon had potential 9 years ago). But now, after almost ten years, a new season based on the next video games is going to be realized this month. Don’t worry; as bad as you can see a series, other people still believes in them. The only thing I have to be grateful to Pokemon was the beginning of my romance with anime.

    Back to our matter over here; episode 10th, as far as I know, is a key one for Hagu, not only because she needs to settle down a bit, but also she needs to make a decision about hr life; being irrelevant Takemoto & Morita right now.

    Syaoran Li
  11. Sorry, but I think that’s overthinking things a bit. Shuu clearly knew that all he could do was be a parent and a stabilizing figure. Not to be an incestuous figure. I find it preposterous that you can even think that. Shuu clearly did the same with Rika as a bit of a middleman in all the emotional traumas. Shuu is the anchor to it all and he clearly has accepted that role.

    Otherwise, I think the speculation on Hagu is more or less correct. But it seems apparent to me that she’s at a crossroads and wondering whether “opening the boxes” will have much meaning to her now. And it has become more complicated due to her injury.

  12. Overthinking is the whole point of this column…of course I’m going to go out on a limb and make some radical conjecture that nobody else has thought about – that’s the whole idea! It’s up to you guys to discuss whether you agree or not.

  13. yep its true…the mark of a truely good anime is when people still talk (and make fun of) the show many many weeks?,months?,years? later… when a show is forgotten right after it finishes….well that just goes to show how uniteresting it is….if the show was crap(mai-otome/gundam seed destiny) it may be crap but you will remember it

  14. Well, all I want is for Morita to end up with Yamada, but that is really out of question…>>They could have at least added SOME romance there…

    I don’t want Hagu to end up with Morita. I just don’t see them working. I think Shuuji would be a lot better for Hagu, whether as a partner or a guardian. Takemoto…I love him, but he’s hopeless. I don’t think Hagu can love him as a partner, ever.

  15. 1) you don’t need to feel the paintbrush to actually paint – painting comes from the eye-wrist coordination (one of the easier solutions is to tape the paintbrush in her hand)

    2) this anime is also saying that women can’t cope on their own or become successful without a male partner – how sexist…


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