How could I forgot that Honey and Clover had a Christmas episode? I guess it’s been too long since I’ve watched this series (one of my favorites), but it is indeed hidden in there, only half of one episode really, and very early in season one (episode four). It was strange going back and watching it, too, because the dynamics set through the two seasons of the series aren’t all in place yet. For instance, the professor doesn’t even yet know who Ayumi is.
Watching it out of context and after having not seen the series for so long, I think I was able to view this episode from a different perspective, a very different one—that of Shinobu. Never my favorite character (okay, he’s actually my least favorite of the mains), it’s always hard to get a dial on him. Even when some depth is added to Shinobu later, he still feels more like a caricature than a real person, more Robin Williams than Tom Hanks. But a little bit of his realness comes through in this episode, and I realized that it’s a realness that I want to see in me, too.
Honey and Clover is about struggling with the challenges of adulthood, and in this episode more than most, we get a taste of everyone’s struggles through the lens of the holiday season. Yuta, for instance, dislikes Christmas because it reminds him of spending holidays in the hospital with his mother, a single mom who was a nurse, and the neglect and sadness he experienced there.
The others are hurting, too. Hagu is crumbling under the expectations from classmates, people in the art industry, everyone it seems (except for Shu—how did I not see the end coming?!). Ayumi loves Takumi, and Takumi loves Rika. And Shinobu…well, Shinobu doesn’t seem to be struggling with anything, but he is privy to all the difficulties of his friends. And to aid them, he comes up with a solution: a Christmas party.
Everyone comes and enjoys the party. It doesn’t solve anything, but if just for a day, troubles are forgotten, stress is relieved, and bitter memories are left behind. It was exactly what the group needed, and it was provided by the one who at this point in the series seems the least likely to have a pulse on what others need and how to help them. And yet, Shinobu comes through.
We’ve mentioned a few times already (here, here, and especially here) how the holidays can be hard for some folks. As with Yuta, we may have not-so-pleasant memories of the season (more on that in Day 11); or as with some of the others, this particular season, this 2018, may be full stress and strife. That’s been the case for me this year. I was in a car accident a couple of weeks ago, and that was this hammer what was a sensitive balance as we tried to hold everything together in our busiest and most expensive month of the year. But to be honest, other than a few days of heavy burden, I don’t feel that bad. I feel pretty good. And so, I’m trying to be Shinobu this season for others, to be one that loves on those who are hurting and to help them experience some joy during what should be the most joyous season of all.
And if you’re the same as me, able to give love more than you need to receive it right now, why not do the same? Be Shinobu. Be Santa. Be love.