I’ve read a lot of the pertinent posts at AnimeSuki, and those made me realize that my ‘quasi-summary’ wasn’t even half as insightful as their posts. To make up for this, here’s an intensive disquisition of what ep4 of Honey and Clover II really was. I think it’s going to be somewhat long, so please bear with me.

On Shuu’s loneliness:

I’m not in any way disappointed with Shuu or think he’s a train wreck. I perceive him as an extremely selfless guy, and this is the reason why loneliness often pervades him. He often struggled to discover himself, but ultimately succumbed to his altruistic tendencies. I hope that Hagu, if anything, can help him discover himself as they progress on.

On moonlight as a motif:

The moon in literature has often been perceived to be possessing feminine traits. It also paints a picture of loneliness and solitude, and whenever the moon is mentioned, a silent sadness often pervades that said scene. It vaguely reminds me of how the moon atmospherically commanded and controlled a lot of the scenes in Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native, especially those dealing with Eustacia Vye, a woman far beyond her time and place. This was apt in relation to Rika and her relationship with Mayama, because for one, Rika is a very lonely person. She tries to disconnect herself from the world, living alone amidst a blanket of darkness. The moon, however, is a very important recurring theme because it seems the moon, or rather, what it connotes – the darkness, calls for her, beckons her to come and rest forever. It can also symbolize Mayama as the moon to her own darkness – whenever Rika is dealt alongside the moon, Mayama is never far away. In the first season, one scene has him looking up to the moon – and in an epiphany discovering that despite not knowing much about the world or reality, knows that he loves Rika so much that it hurts him, that just coming back meant everything already.

In the Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov’s masterpiece, the moonlight’s reflection as if painting a path – the one stressed out by the seemingly simple painting by Munch – was the way how Pontius Pilate (IIRC) walked up to heaven. This path, artistically, and as shown in this episode, was a path to the nether world – the other life, the life Rika so painfully yearns for – the life Shuu almost gave her. Moon River, eh?

On Shuuji and Rika:

No matter what shippers of this couple would like to believe, Shuuji didn’t dream of anything more than being a really, really, really excellent friend to Rika, to the extent of trying to kill her, to stop the pain tearing her up inside. ‘A soundless scream’ was how he described it, as if she wanted death to come by her and take her away. He saw himself as only the third wheel in his relationship with both Harada and Rika, proven by the fact that he said ‘although we lived together, it was always myself and them … all I could do was watch over their happiness.’

This would further support the idea that Shuu is simply too selfless and too altruistic that he also fails to develop himself. Perhaps this is why some people call him a trainwreck? I, however, think that he’s a modern epitome of a saint – one who watches over others and sacrifices himself for the sake of them. To end her pain, even killing her was an option to him. That was how much he cared, and if one had a friend like that – one must be a very lucky person. Rika was extremely lucky, and she knew that. She knew how the pain didn’t only tear herself apart, it also tore Shuu apart.

She knew that the only option for them was to stay apart: Harada loomed like a spectre over them, preventing them from improving their lives despite the fact that the contrary was what he always aimed for. Like Shuu, he always wanted both Shuu and Rika to be happy. Seeing that he could no longer help her, he simply hopes that Mayama could take her past Harada’s death, ‘to the future.’

I hope he could take her there, too. I really, really, really do.

On Mayama and Rika:

This is where differences in opinion often pop up. Do we condone Mayama’s stalker-like behaviors or not? Before that, however, let us dissect the scenes little by little:

  • The journey to Sapporo. Although nothing much is said, Rika, after saying goodbye to Ueno-san (sp?) looks wistfully at the train marker to Sapporo. Mayama, detecting this, pushes her to enter the train on just a whim. It was simply this force that she needed to finally be able to look back and connect to the past, and for the viewers to realize that Harada was simply as good, even better than Shuuji. Even inside the train, Rika’s still quite austere and even serious. Did I think Mayama was stupid when he did this? I personally don’t. Would she even accede at all to going to Hokkaido if they booked a plane, etc? I don’t think so. I think Mayama showed that he really cared for her by knowing what she wanted – without even asking her. He certainly didn’t perform any stalker behavior when he prodded her to the train – it was simply of genuine love. The simple things that he did for her – turn off the lights, set the alarm, sleep beside her – was everything that he wished for. This is quintessential joy. He couldn’t bear, however, all that pounding joy – it was an unbearable lightness of being, to borrow from Milan Kundera. He slept at the ‘living room’ instead. This can also be taken as his unwillingness to even disturb Rika a little. He wanted her sleep to be as placid as possible that he was willing to sacrifice his. The first thing he asked, however, was when they boarded off the train was if her leg was alright. He didn’t even think of his own well-being, even though he was deprived of a lot of sleep. And despite that, we still see her distancing herself from Mayama, with her lukewarm responses – and superficial blasé to Mayama’s condition. Is this absurd? Simply put, no. There are some people who stay celibate for the rest of their lives as a dedication of their undying love for their partner. This, clearly, was human nature.

    • Proving Mayama’s total dedication to Rika was the fact that he tried to hide how he felt, despite Rika knowing. WAIT A MINUTE. This was among the few times Rika expressed concern for Mayama. There is at least a little progression in their relationship between one another.

  • The arrival at Otaru, and the destroyed house. This is why H&C is among the best anime of all time. Its atmosphere blends so well with its mood that it’s undeniably masterful. The foggy atmosphere, the gray sky, the bleak clouds blend so well with Rika’s vapid clothing – even her platinum blonde hair – as it contrasts so highly with Mayama’s colorful (relatively) clothes and his brown hair. Mayama became the spiritbreaker of that place. He had arrived to destroy what sad remnant of the past of Rika was, and to bring color to Rika’s life. The atmosphere and how the environment of her place was drawn is very symbolic to convey the scene properly. I think it did.

    • We also see why Rika loved Harada so much. Nevertheless, there were still things that tied her to her past, like her dog for example. There were still things that aided her in keeping alive. We also see how ’empty’ was magnified – her parents didn’t care for her, and it reflected with Rika and her perception that only her dog loved her.

  • The implied sex, and the thunderous occurrences. Sex is a consummation of love. We all know that, especially for those people serious with their love. With the act lies the confirmation that Rika, at the least, loved Mayama. It is questionable if her love for him was at par with Harada; she loved him nonetheless. Mayama, however, the dedicated and unflinching lover of four years, knows that she’s up to something. Let’s go back to the first season – it’s implied that they’ve also made love, and that Mayama does anything and everything for Rika. Mayama, however, has no longer become a blind lover – he realizes that Rika makes love to him, no matter how much it hurt him, to either hurt herself more, or to obviate suspicion. This is why he put an alarm on her bag. As I stated in ASuki, it was once a goodbye gift as she was going towards perdition, but afterwards, after that speech, it became an act of love.

    • Stalker or not? This is where a bifurcation of opinions occur. Was Mayama a stalker? Taking it to the most technical aspect, yes, he was. However, life isn’t all that simple. Rika isn’t your normal lady, either. He did everything in the name of love. As cheesy as that may have sounded, it was true. Would you seriously think that Rika would still be alive had he not done so? Had she not gone back to Hokkaido, would anything have tied her to living? Shuu has had already gone away, and were it not for him, it would be a safe bet for her to have killed herself. I think the readers would have realized that at ep3 – she was planning to walk the river to the moon. Yes, Mayama may have had been a stalker, and yes, he had admitted to it – but that was to prevent something worse from happening. Did he really have a choice given her personality and her perception about life? I personally condone it. At his position, of course.

    • Love or not? I don’t really know, but if it’s not love, it’s inexorably close. This marks the first time that Rika sincerely reciprocated her feelings towards Mayama.

      • But it was only a hug, right? Yes, it was only a hug, but it was a reciprocation. After that was the look of guilt on her face, the look of remorse. It seems that his speech more tightly bound her to Mayama, if not the world. To support this further, it seems that post-scene was the first real conversation they’ve had – that wasn’t really about work. She even smiled while talking to him. Hope springs eternal.