Honey and Clover: Ep 1

Drama ReviewsJapanese Dramas

Honey and Clover is pure awesomeness. I love the anime. I love the manga. I love the drama. It’s one of my all-time favorites…to the point that I literally watched the drama like 5 times. I’m not even kidding.  So, I decided to recap this drama since it’s a favorite of mine.


I love the drama because it is a great slice-of-life drama, and it has a great balance between humor, coming of age, and heartwarming friendships. This drama is all about heart. This isn’t the drama for everyone (some people didn’t think the drama lived up to the anime/manga). It really depends on what you prefer and where you are in life. The first time I watched it, I liked it because of the humor, but never really connected with its deeper themes. The second time I watched it a couple years later, I was going through coming of age, so I completely connected with the drama.

This drama is filmed SO beautifully. *-* YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW. And if you don’t think you don’t know any of the cast, think again–Narumi Riko, Mukai Osamu, Ikuta Toma, Narimiya Hiroki, and Harada Natsuki.

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The episode opens with a college student, Takemoto, walking through a club rush. We see that he’s at the Hamayadama Art University (Bidai) in Tokyo. (and omg the campus is gorgeous) He walks along as a ridiculous amount of cherry blossom petals fly through the air. Takemoto looks at the cherry blossom trees and reaches out to catch a flower petal.

“It’s said that spring is the season for beginnings, but to me, it doesn’t feel that way at all…Just like the cherry blossoms falling one by one, my university days are lapsing, without any focus and grasp. This spring also, nothing began and nothing changed.”

He stands by a small pond, when he sees a girl kneeling by the water. She glances over and stands up, smiling as the cherry blossoms continue to fall all around her. This is Takemoto’s first encounter with Hagu!!! It’s a beautiful moment, as he gawks at how beautiful she is…but of course, his two college buddies interrupt!

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Morita (a whimsical, playful sculpture student who doesn’t care about graduating and just wants to have fun) and Mayama (a logical architecture student) throw Takemoto into a cart (literally) and bring him to a club meeting. They make him pretend to be a freshman so he can get free curry. ROFL I love how they just assume he’ll pass as a freshman.

Their strategy fails, so instead Morita, Mayama, and Takemoto infiltrate the curry club, where the curry is being cooked. The threesome pour the curry into a huge platter and are about to start eating..
Morita: “Hmm I think I’ve scene this plate somewhere..”
As if on cue, Yamada (a pottery student known for her amazing iron-kick) storms in to save her plate. She aims for Morita and Mayama, but they quickly dodge, so she ends up kicking poor Takemoto right in the gut.

Takemoto gets busted for Morita & Mayama’s cart since they wrote his name on it.

Takemoto: “Why is it my fault?”
The response of true friends: “Who knows!”
Takemoto: “Wait come with me! We’re friends, right?”
Mayama & Morita: “We’re busy eating the curry!”

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Hanamoto-sensei scolds Takemoto for the cart because it broke his bicycle. Innocent Takemoto insists that Morita (the master of forging) forged his name on the cart. Morita, Yamada, and Mayama don’t believe him.

“This is what friendship in college is like.”

Hanamoto-sensei introduces the group to his freshman niece, Hanamoto Hagumi (Hagu for short). She’s an amazing talent in abstract art. Morita freaks out when he sees that Hagu got to eat the special curry. Yamada promptly kicks Morita down. He bounces back up, covered in paint, and introduces himself to Hagu. The rest of the group introduces themselves to Hagu….except for Takemoto, because they completely forget about his introduction. Rofl. Hagu quietly hands him a button that he dropped earlier (when he saw her at the pond).

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Yamada, Morita, Takemoto, and Mayama eat lunch together. We see that Yamada has a crush on Mayama, because she keeps on glancing at him. She hears that he needs a rare book for a class, so she goes to several bookstores just to find the book for him.

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Morita, Takemoto, and Mayama (who are housemates) all suffer from hunger because they can’t afford any food. So what do Morita and Mayama do? Make erasers look like food and fool Takemoto into thinking they’re real food. Poor Takemoto!

The threesome’s mentor and idol, Ryoma-senpai comes to rescue them with a gift of free ham. (This is a running inside joke throughout the drama.) The threesome hang on Ryoma’s every word, revering his words of wisdom.

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Mayama stays up late to do homework, while Morita sleeps soundly. Time for late talks and awesome bromance! Mayama: “You fell for Hagu at first sight?” Takemoto: NO!

And then he takes out the button that Hagu gave him and STARES AT IT. HE FELL FOR HER ALREADY.

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The next morning, Yamada finally finds the book Mayama was looking for. She presents it to Mayama. Morita (who already knows about Yamada’s feelings) suggests that Mayama give her a hug, which results in Yamada gearing up for her famous iron-kick. This time, Takemoto thinks he’s prepared, and ducks down, but he miscalculated her kick….she aims near the ground, and ends up kicking Takemoto. Mayama and Morita are quick enough to dodge her kick. rofl.

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Yamada has a catch–dinner in exchange for the book! Mayama agrees, but as quickly as he promises, he breaks it. He gets a phone call from his crush, Rika. (his unrequited love) The atmosphere quickly shifts as Yamada looks on insecurely, (she knows it’s Rika) and Morita glances at Yamada. (LOVEEE this little detail, so subtle and quick, but it shows Morita’s understanding of Yamada. Ok, I’ll admit it right now..I ship Yamada and Morita. I shipped them ever since I first saw the anime. >.>)

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Mayama says he has to do something for work, and that he decided not to go to the interview for the class. He runs off in the rain, while Yamada calls his name.

Takemoto thinks:

Mayama had easily given up the class he absolutely wanted to get into, with just one phone call.

AUGH I love this scene. Yamada is forced to look at Mayama’s back as she grips the book that she worked so hard to find. It’s almost symbolic of how she knows she can never gain his love, so that’s why she keeps on looking at his back. Morita looks at Yamada with a look of understanding on his face. AWWWWW.

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Takemoto & Morita walk together. Morita gets all philosophical, but still manages to make it sound like he’s just talking about some lighthearted topic:

“When you see people like Mayama, don’t you think the happier ones are those who are willing to give up anything for something they want to obtain?…But this world was made so those people can’t get what they want.”

Morita and Takemoto come to a stop when they see a beautiful abstract painting on display; it’s a painting by Hagu! Takemoto realizes that it’s a painting of the cherry blossoms he saw the first day he met Hagu by the pond.

“Through the passing time, all I could do was watch. However, she was different. Right by me, she was trying with all her might to stop the flow of time and capture the moment which will never return. She was quietly fighting alone with the miraculous scenery.”

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Morita is moved by the painting, and runs at full speed to commend Hagu. He bear hugs Hagu and thanks her for painting something that can move his heart. (loveee the lighting here) This is cute because Hagu’s painting was inspired by one of Morita’s sculptures. The first words Hagu ever says to them: “I like Morita’s work.”

Poor Takemoto can only stand by and watch as he sees Morita hug his crush, and as he hears Hagu say her first words to someone else.

“Hearing the voice I yearned for, somehow my heart ached a bit. I was so close to her, but for some reason, she seemed very far away.”

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Yamada broods over Mayama as she makes some pottery. She starts to cry over the pottery wheel. :'( LOVEEE THIS SCENE. Morita comes over, being his usual upbeat self. Yamada’s pottery wheel slows to a stop, and we see that her pottery got messed up.

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Hanamoto: “Whenever I see Hagumi’s art, I think that just once, I’d like to see the world through Hagumi’s eyes. I wonder how she sees it.”
Takemoto: “I want to see it, the world that she lives in.”

Takemoto comments that if he could paint just one picture like Hagu, he’d be happy. Hanamoto wisely says the opposite–

“I’m glad that I don’t have as much talent as Hagumi. If it were me, I’d run from it right away.”

OMG. DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE HONEY AND CLOVER????? WORDS OF WISDOM. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Sure, we all wish we could have as much talent as those people who seem to be naturally gifted, but really, if I had that much talent, would I even have the courage to face it?

A few characters are introduced at Mayama’s workplace; he’s in love with his boss, Harada Rika. They drop stuff off at a company called Fujiwara Design. (yeah the name kinda matters for later on..) One of the employees, Nomiya, tells his superior Miwako that ‘the kid’ likes Rika for sure. Miwako comments that Rika won’t ever fall in love again, because she already has someone in her heart.

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LOVEE the seamless transitions here. Yamada looks at the rain from the window while Morita sculpts something. She tearfully asks him if he’s good at riddles.

“There was a girl who couldn’t make someone run or stand still. So, from now on, how can this girl find happiness? If you get it right, I’ll give you 10,000 yen.”

Outside, the rain stops. Rika tells Mayama that she’s going to lay him off soon. It’s not his fault, it’s hers. Mayama looks shocked and heartbroken.

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Back to Morita & Yamada. (I actually love the way they switch between scenes, it’s great storytelling.) Yamada waits for Morita’s answer. His answer? “Morita’s poop.” HE SCULPTED THE CLAY INTO DUNG. ROFLLLLLLLLL. Yamada is angry because she thought Morita was going to be serious for once. Morita gives her his real answer–EAT!

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“Why must people chase after things that are impossible to reach? Why must people continue to walk forward while following a goal they can’t see? I don’t know the reason why. However, there’s just one thing which is certain. I was the one who chose a spring where nothing began and nothing changed.”

AHHHHHHHHHHHH. SO TRUEEEEEEE.

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Takemoto decides to take the chance to talk to Hagu, who’s drawing by the pond. SUCH A BEAUTIFUL SCENE!! Hagu talks about how art is all she has.

Morita and Yamada cook pizza….

IN A KILN. ROFL.

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The whole group bonds as they eat pizza. Hagu is officially part of their group now! The whole group is full of laughter and happiness, but Takemoto can’t help but stop and look a little sad as he thinks:

“Time won’t stop for us. The flower petals that float on the wind, the flowing of the waves, and the sparkling smiles. The day will probably come when all these turn into memories. However, I’ll most likely remember it constantly. I’ll probably remember that the five of us have gathered here today. Something surely began to move on that spring day.”

I’m just like Takemoto. :'( Whenever I’m having a great time with my friends, I think to myself that I never want it to end, but I know it’ll end all too quickly.

Other thoughts
I LOVE HONEY AND CLOVER. Recapping it just makes me even happier because it’s one of my favorite dramas. 😀

For those who have seen the anime/read the manga Hagu and Morita might not live up to your expectations. Most people were disappointed with Morita’s character because he’s just not crazy enough. I still enjoy the drama version although Morita isn’t exactly what he’s supposed to be like. Obviously stuff in the anime can’t be done in the drama. (Morita was some kind of secret agent or something in the manga/anime.)

I like Takemoto way more in the drama because he just seems like a more likable character. I completely understand Takemoto’s ideas in his narration, which is why I empathize with him so much. As for Yamada, she’s not your typical clingy character that can’t get over a crush. She’s not annoying, she’s not clingy, she’s just hopelessly in love with Mayama no matter how much she wants to move on. Honey and Clover is one of those rare dramas/animes/mangas that manage to be heartwarming, humorous, and melancholy, and meaningful all at the same time.

Note: There are multiple drama versions of H&C; this is the 2008 Japanese version.  There’s also a Taiwanese version and a Japanese movie version.  So don’t get it mixed up with the other versions!

heisui

I'm heisui, an Asian drama blogger and the creator of My Drama Tea. I love stories and writing, so I watch dramas and blog. I especially have a penchant for Japanese and Chinese dramas, and those hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. Oh, and I'm Legend of Zhen Huan-obsessed!
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  • Thank you for the recap. I’ve seen part of the anime. The drama looks very good. I may have to try this one. I knew about the Taiwanese one, but that one didn’t appeal to me all, but this one…I might like.

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