Were you brought by the wind?
This little space of Internet is the home of You are Here, a light tribute to Takemoto Yuuta from the animanga series Honey and Clover (ハチミツトクローバ). Though the series is old enough to be of "classic" status, I feel I owe a lot to this loving, confused character from whom I learned so much. Hopefully this shrine, brought to life by the 2011 One Page, One Month Marathon on Amassment, will be able to convey just how amazing this boy is. Just note that unmarked spoilers are everywhere, so take care when you read. Thank you for stopping by!
Who do you think I am?
Takemoto Yuuta is introduced as a 19-year old sophomore pursuing architecture at an art college in Tokyo. He resides in a cheap apartment complex just off campus along with a few other students (which include Mayama Takumi and Morita Shinobu), and struggles to survive on a poor income.
In the looks department, Takemoto is passably cute, but other characters don't particularly fawn over his appearance. His style is equally average, though it really does capture the image of any ordinary college student. Overall Takemoto's look makes it easier to relate to him; no flashy clothes or exceptionally pretty face hide his genuine feelings.
Personality-wise, he has a cheerful demeanor and values his friends very highly. Though he is prone to wild states of panic (usually at the hands of Morita), he falls into oppositely contemplative states of mind. He's not exactly sure what he wants out of life, and many times he feels he's just too inadequate to achieve anything worthwhile.
In essence, Takemoto is the embodiment of youth. Frustrated and confused, uncertain and afraid--these are all feelings he must grapple with as he learns about himself and others throughout the series. It's a bumpy ride to adulthood, and Takemoto unfortunately has to take the long way.
I can live my own life?
It's easy to see early on that Takemoto is the type of person that finds comfort in his few, but dear friends. Besides Hagumi, he is the youngest of the main cast, and therefore spends a lot of time with older figures he can look up to and learn from. However, there is only so much inspiration he can draw from others, and he indeed spends much of the series struggling to find his own identity.
Many of his difficulties trace back to his fractured childhood. When his beloved father was on his deathbed tiny little Yuuta promised to take care of his mother in his absence. As such, although his mother cherished him very much, she relied on him more than he relied on her. Her occupation as a nurse also kept her busy, and Takemoto developed a disdain for holidays like Christmas when he felt most neglected.
Because of his weak and often-absent mother, Takemoto learned not only how to care for himself, but also how to care for others. He received an exorbitant amount of responsibility in his two-person family, and it is evident in how he treats his friends that the welfare of other people is extremely important to him. Conversely, the youth never really learned how to want for himself, not even having his own dreams to fulfill.
Mizu: You no longer have to think of me all the time. You can work for yourself now.
Takemoto: When my mother told me that, I realized I was empty on the inside.
Over time Takemoto had hidden himself in his promise and his mother's needs. When he only needed to worry about doing well in school and working just so they could afford a house, there was no need for him to think. He aimed for the goal and that was it. Now he had to carve out his own place in the world, and he knew so little about himself that he left for art school on the vague desire to make things with his hands.
It comes as no surprise that Takemoto is apprehensive to return home from school. Though the primary reason is his uneasiness with his stepfather Kazuo, there are so many underlying conditions in the place itself that cause discomfort. He bears no ill-will toward his mother, but seeing her unwell and being too far away to care for her triggers an unnecessary guilt from "failing" to fulfill his promise. Despite having only a short time with his father, it is clear that he remains a very big part of Takemoto's life, and the boy can hardly look around town without remembering him. He doesn't acknowledge it, but there is a lot of unresolved pain amidst that nostalgia.
With so many weights to carry and a serious lack of personal foundation, Takemoto's self-awareness is pitifully weak. As the series progresses he begins to feel that emptiness again, and what he ultimately chooses to do about that forms an important arc of the storyline.
Mayama Takumi, the Doting Upperclassman
Mayama adopts the role of Takemoto's would-be brother quite readily, and he does it well. The architect major is thoughtful of his underclassman and will often share things with him (especially food) or hang out with him on a moment's notice. He seems privy to Takemoto's troubles in both life and love, but because of his own complicated problems he's unable to provide as much advice as he may need. Still, he acts as a constant pillar of support for Takemoto and is ready to offer encouragement when needed.
Hanamoto Shuuji, the Guiding Teacher
Hanamoto-sensei is the oldest and naturally the wisest of the crew. Since Takemoto is his student his primary role is to advise, and he has the nurturing personality of a true teacher to back him up. When the boy questions, Hanamoto tries his best to supply a detailed and helpful answer, usually based on his own experience. In fact, the teacher followed a very similar path to Takemoto in his college life; though he was largely untalented in the arts, he found his calling in teaching his friends. However, that did not prevent him from venturing out on multiple "soul-searching" trips, which helps him relate to Takemoto when he goes off on his own journey.
The "Fruitless" Quest
How far can I go without looking back?
When Takemoto hits his emotional rock bottom, he spontaneously takes off into the night, riding until he can't ride anymore. Then, rather than returning, he decides to continue until he's reached the northernmost point of the country. He's not sure what he'll find, because he's not even entirely sure what he's looking for, but he ventures onward.
Takemoto: ...Then one day I thought, how far can I ride without looking behind me? Back then, I wonder what it was I wanted to try?
The other characters attribute Takemoto's disappearance to a "soul-searching" trip. Though the boy himself doesn't acknowledge it as such, he undoubtedly discovers how to survive on his own and comes to appreciate humble blessings he receives, such as a drink of water from a kind stranger.
At the same time he acts on his tendency to help, for he tries to make himself useful to shrine restorers he comes across in order to properly earn wages. The idea of freeloading doesn't even cross his mind, and his earnestness really shines in a way that everyone notices. He parts from them reluctantly, but also takes with him his first dream for the future.
Upon his return, the traveler does not admit to having found anything on his trip, despite all of the personal growth we as an audience witness. Even the other characters notice a change in his manner, including a confident demeanor and a glint of wisdom in his eye. In a private revelation, Takemoto reaches a soft understanding that even though he didn't really "find himself," he realized how important the things he left behind were.
Love at First Sight
Why does my heart beat so fast?
From elementary school onward Takemoto had been absorbed in the needs of his family, paying attention to his mother especially. He never really had the time or emotional availability to try dating, and being in love isn't on his list of priorities. Then, he meets Hanamoto Hagumi.
Mayama: It's the first time I've seen the moment when someone falls in love.
She has the fragility and beauty of a flower, but nothing indicates that Takemoto ever had any lustful intentions. He is simply enchanted by her, more so when he understands the full magnitude of her artistic genius. There is no passionate declaration of feelings or obsessive interest; he's much too shy for that. Besides, he doesn't understand the true nature of his affections until much later. To him, Hagumi is someone that needs to be cared for and protected, and his nurturing personality responds to it automatically. He becomes the person she can unconditionally depend on, and he does it because he loves her--even if she doesn't love him in the same way.
Hanamoto Hagumi, the First Love
Hagumi grew up in the countryside and led a very quiet life for 18 years. When she comes to live with Shuuji to pursue her art, the poor girl is totally out of her element. She loves painting more than anything, but with expectations and criticisms flying at her left and right, she is both overwhelmed and alienated from others. Though the rest of the main cast cares for her, Takemoto is the friend who will drop everything and help her.
Nurse: But I think she's a lucky one. There are people like you [Takemoto] to watch over her.
They carry a special bond of complete trust and understanding, one that no other pair quite measures up to throughout the series. Unfortunately, this does not mean that Hagumi can respond to Takemoto's romantic affections. When he plainly confesses to her she takes it to heart, but there is no strain on their relationship. She continues to rely on him, and he continues to love her unconditionally.
When it finally comes time for them to part, Hagumi barely catches Takemoto leaving for the train and offers him a stack of sandwiches. They embrace for what may be the last time, and the two are separated. We learn later that between each slice of bread was a coating of honey for sweetness and a four leaf clover for good luck. This marks the most gripping moment of their relationship, the culmination of all the love they shared.
Takemoto: Hagu-chan, I'm glad I fell in love with you.
Morita Shinobu, the Friendly Rival
What heartbreaking romance would be complete without a rival to steal the limelight? Morita, an extremely talented but totally bizarre seventh year student fills the role marvelously. Despite his whimsical manner, the man is an artistic genius, and over the course of the series creates unbelievable masterpieces. He often mysteriously disappears to do jobs his brother finds for him and earns an astounding amount of cash.
Being another tenant in Takemoto's apartment, the two are already well-acquainted with each other even before Hagumi enters the picture. It is also likely why the two are able to remain somewhat civil when their affections become realized. However, Takemoto really never stood a chance. Both Hagumi and Morita shared feelings for each other, and it was all too obvious for the boy to handle at times.
The unfolding of events leads us to believe that the attraction between the two master artists is primarily rooted in their mutual talent. Additionally, because Morita receives an impressive amount of income, he also has the option to buy Hagumi expensive gifts besides making them. Unable to compete in either of these cases, Takemoto gets angry with Morita as well as himself for the painful circumstances he's been trapped in.
However, there lies a paradoxical relationship between the two rivals. Despite being enemies in love, they both carry an understanding of how important the other is to Hagumi, and both prioritize her over their own feelings. When Morita disappears for an extended period of time, Takemoto travels all the way to the airport to yell at the departing plane what an idiot he is because of how much Hagumi will suffer. Likewise, when Takemoto disappears and Hagumi's state of health declines, the upperclassman makes a similar comment.
Morita: It's because he's not here.
After all, reliability is the one thing Takemoto has over Morita any day of the week. The latter's personality is so opposite the nurturing one Takemoto has that his relationship with Hagumi has to be fundamentally different. So, though he and Hagumi and drawn to each other, it seems to be a mutual understanding that any type of long-term relationship would be impossible without an extreme amount of heartache and suffering. In the end, they all part on their separate ways.
Where did it all come from?
You are now viewing Version 1.0 of You are Here, affectionately referred to as Lying in the Grass. The layout was fully designed in Adobe Photoshop CS5 using a lovely pattern from Squidfingers and some screencaps.
The information referred to on this site was gathered from extensive viewing of the anime series. I do not claim to have any real knowledge of Takemoto in the manga, though I imagine the anime didn't deviate too much from the core points of his personality and experience that is discussed here. If there is a mistake in something I've written, please contact me about it.
The Origin of the Title
I suppose "You are Here" is a very bizarre name for a website, but I think it suits Takemoto rather well. Even though he doesn't believe so, I do believe that he finds pieces of himself through his life experiences. Therefore, "You are here" is something of a literary apostrophe, telling Takemoto that he's here, that he doesn't have to search for himself anymore. Weird, huh?
If you're interested in linking to this baby, feel free to use any of these buttons. I don't know of any other Hachikuro sites these days, but if you own one and want to exchange links, let me know!