HONEY AND CLOVER (Hachimitsu to Clover, “Honey and Clover”) (??????????) • Chika Umino • VIZ (2007-ongoing) • Shueisha (Cutie Comic/Young You/Chorus, 2000-2006) • 10 volumes • Jôsei Romantic Slice-of-Life Drama • 16+ (infrequent nudity, infrequent mild sexual situations)
At an art college in Tokyo, five friends struggle with art, love and their next meal. Yamada, a talented pottery student, has an unrequited crush on Mayama, who is in love with an older woman. Meanwhile, two men, Yuta and Morita, fall in love at first sight with Hagu, a shy but endlessly creative 18-year-old artist who looks like an elementary schooler. This mellow, funny, slightly bittersweet story follows the group of friends out of college and into the professional art world, as the two main romantic triangles slowly spin into their final outcome. The characters’ artistic sides are more than just an incidental detail; they are constantly painting and sculpting and crafting and doing whimsical things like looking for clovers in the grass, an incidental scene which gives the series its title. (When Yuta makes tiny models of Versailles furniture as a gift to Hagu, Morita proposes to one-up him by making Angkor Wat.) Umino has an eye for landscapes and the turn of the seasons, the dialogue is great, and the characters of both genders are fully fleshed out and charming, even the somewhat inscrutable, moe character of Hagu (who actually, in her frumpy dresses and work bibs, looks as much like a little old lady as a little girl). Few comics do such a good job of capturing the feeling of young adulthood: of restlessness, of romance, of hopes and potential.
Today’s winner is Myrna B. of Illinois. Congratulations, Myrna!