The Travails of Takemoto: Honey & Clover and Self-Actualization

If I find my own way, how much will I find? …Will I find you?

That’s the question intensely and even agonizingly posed by Joseph Arthur’s “In the Sun”, a question the anime Honey & Clover explores and answers for at least one of its characters. Does figuring out where we have to go or where we have to be us bring us closer to those we care about?

Although this anime series is almost ten years old now and is almost claustrophobically small in its world of self-absorbed college students, Honey & Clover is still quite an odyssey into personal circumstances that middle-class, creative millennials can relate to—a journey that attempts and sometimes manages to navigate the challenges of creativity, career, romance, loss, identity, belonging, friendship, family—you know, growing up.

That’s what made Honey & Clover so compelling; if you could buy into its peculiar configuration of characters (from the enigmatically absurd Morita to Ayu the ceramics genius with many fans but startlingly few friends whose character-dominating infatuation is never adequately backstoried), you would be drawn into its consideration of questions few other works popular culture really delved into. For example, I’m still impressed by Honey & Clover II‘s exploration of creative aspiration and accomplishment as dividing people into two camps of talented geniuses vs. hard workers (essentially Takemoto and Mayama vs. Hagu and Morita; Shuu vs. Harada; Morita vs. Morita—an unexpected sibling tension suddenly revealed the audience; maybe even Mayama vs. Nomiya). Because while it’s an oversimplification, the archetypes posited get at a jealousy that many of us understand, that impacted us at some point in our careers, endeavors or creative work. How do we relate to those who seem to be just completely and naturally masterful in fields we labor so diligently to be adept?

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