Honey and Clover Vol. 8
When people look back nostalgically at their time in college and proclaim that those were the best years of their lives, what they're actually celebrating is a period of arrested development. At least that's the case with the cast of Honey and Clover. Not one member has managed to progress in anything resembling a grown-up relationship for the past seven volumes, not even the series' actual grown-ups. No one plays the field. Or has short term affairs. All anyone does in this manga is pine for another person for the last five years. It's an idyllic situation that has to come to an end because, frankly, it's starting to become unhealthy. In this volume, at least two characters are coming to the realization that they need to move past their childhood crushes and get on with their lives.
No more is this evident than with Ayumi Yamada, whose prolonged childhood is symbolized by an imaginary pack of cussing, overprotective unicorns. Now a post-graduate ceramics student, everything she's done up to this point has been in order to hang-on to her love interest Takumi Mayama despite having no chance with him. As a new man tries to situate himself in her life, the animal guardians become increasingly aggressive. The emotionally devastating climax of the volume is when she comes to a personal reckoning on why she's carried the torch for Mayama for such a long time. This is the most brutally introspective passage creator Chica Umino has written about her, but at least the overall impression is that she may be able to move on and find someone more worthy of her attention. Maybe.
This is mirrored by the enigmatic Rika Harada. She carries her physical frailty like a badge of honor and as a visible reminder of her dead husband. In flashback sequences, she's willing to follow him anywhere. And it appears she's now prepared to follow him to oblivion. A sudden visit to her childhood home serves as a painful reminder of how much she's lost. But as with Ayumi, the presence of another man (this time Mayama) forces her to reconsider.
With Yūta Takemoto appearing at to have accepted that his love will remain unrequited now that he's chosen his individual path through life, the manga is left with its two most eccentric and juvenile characters: hyper-aggressive man-child Shinobu Morita, and moe-magnet Hagumi Hanamoto. The story continues to drop hints that Morita and his brother are conspiring on something big. And the very conflicted Hagu has been avoiding Yūta since he's returned from the trip he took in the last volume. I just know their respective resolutions are going to be a bit more high key than the rest.