During Takemoto’s defining journey in the narrative, Hagu wonders if Takemoto is lonely. Shuu-sensei says he probably is.
Loneliness comes suddenly like waves, one after the other, and recedes just as fast. That continues on forever. It’s the same for everyone.
I hit the pause button and light a cigarette. It wasn’t enough. I take a shower. It wasn’t enough. I felt so… bothered by what he said. It shouldn’t apply to me, at least not anymore. Shuu-sensei and I are around the same age (slightly over 30). He has remained single, I’ve been married for a few years and am to be a father soon. Why am I bothered? Could it be that I’m actually… lonely?
There was something about watching this show alone that produced a feeling of acute loneliness, something I didn’t know what to do with. It felt very odd, given how unreasonable it seemed in my own personal life.
I gave it some thought, and bring up memories of loneliness. I didn’t pay too much attention to those when I was actually younger and alone, broke and with no prospects. That’s easy to get over. I realize that the most awful feelings of loneliness I had (perhaps outside of big fights with my wife, where I feel both of us become the loneliest people in the world) was when I was among people I knew well. It’s easy to be lonely among strangers, and it’s easy to get over it too. When I feel lonely among friends, the waves come; my feet get wet on the loose sand, the water pushes at my knees. Never strong enough to topple me. It’s in my head where I feel thrown about.
How can one be lonely among friends?
It actually happened a lot. After college, my friends would get together. Many of them were starting to get ahead. They were getting employed, starting to have money to spend. They were headed places and started hanging out in trendy places. This would dominate conversation. I would feel so left behind. They’d be polite enough not to ask me, as they knew I was teaching part-time at our alma-mater, made little money, and spent it on grad-school related things. I was lucky just to be able to be with them. They knew it. I knew it.
So they would talk about the people they met in some club, and what this certain office mate’s hobbies were like (I’d hear about snorkeling, fashion, travel, cars, gadgets). Nobody was really interested in discussing Eastern European novels anymore, now that they don’t have homework. And no, there wasn’t a lot of anime around that time (the time before torrents) and these people are hip and worldly.
But they loved me. We were friends. I didn’t hold their interests against them. I was still banging my head on the wall trying to win writing fellowships and contests, to no avail. At some point during the gathering one of them would be genuinely interested and ask about how my writing is going. Given my results, I didn’t really want to talk about it myself. Before long I would long to leave, while nursing a drink in the middle of a circle of people who are genuinely having a fun time, people who are oblivious to the frightening loneliness I was feeling.
Good thing alcohol can be a great equalizer. Everyone ends up sharing the same old stories. The waves recede, even if only because in these old stories they tell, I was still living in them.
This was period that began over a decade ago, when I was a little more like Takemoto and less like Shuuji. Takemoto was seeing his talented friends start going places, getting jobs, making money. He felt left behind, because even Hagumi who was younger than him was going places (even if she didn’t really want to, she was being pressured to). I reflect on this more and see that Shuuji himself felt this way. After all, I was a teacher like him — knowing so much about art (literature in my case), to know that I wasn’t good enough to aspire for greatness. His best friends were immediately successful. So were mine. Honey and Clover uses characters as refrains of themes.
Mayama and Nomiya who are plays on the same character at different times in their life (to drive home the point, they are both named Takumi, are entangled with Ayu even if for different reasons, and yes both deal with unreturned affection). Ayu and Mayama are plays on the inability of romance to emerge from the intimacy of friends; Ayu’s epiphany comes when she has to turn down so many suitors at once, all of them friends from childhood. Morita and Takemoto are plays on conflict avoidance; Takemoto runs away when they happen, Morita weirds it up to avoid causing the kind of conflict he doesn’t want to deal with (he hides as well).
And loneliness comes in waves upon these characters, in different times, as intensely as shuuji says they do, and recedes just as fast; distinct from the overall melancholy that sits upon their brows, the sadness that hangs over their shoulders throughout the course of the narrative. Hagumi who was isolated by her giftedness, Morita by his disappearances and the needs that caused them, Mayama by Rika, Ayu by Mayama, Takemoto by his initial cowardice and ultimately like many of the characters here by unreturned love.
Morita made money, that’s his thing. Ayu got drunk and made vases. Mayama smoked while stalking. Hagumi would freeze and not paint or sculpt. Takemoto found out that human beings couldn’t sleep unless they were near a tree or beside a wall.
I played video games, mostly. I did find out that gratification from playing was frightfully useless.
I look back into Honey and Clover. Ayu’s pottery teacher told her that there are things or feelings that one couldn’t do anything about. In these cases it’s best to moves one’s hands. Given I have no craft in comparison to the characters of Honey and Clover, I did my best to write this essay.
(Honey and Clover Circle Jerk 2009)
A Thematic Analysis of Honey and Clover (Eternal 2009/07/28)
A critique of ‘A Thematic Analysis of Honey and Clover‘ (lolikitsune 2009/08/02)
A shameful otaku learns to let go through watching this show (otou-san 2009/08/08)
Honey and Clover inspires personal reflection (usagijen 2009/08/09)