Comparing Toradora! to Honey and Clover doesn’t really make sense, even if you think it does

I generally don’t read many anime blogs, mostly because most anime bloggers have no idea as to what they’re on about. However, even amongst the ones that I do read, I’ve noticed one ugly pattern rear its head as of late–the comparison of 2008/2009’s Toradora! to 2005/2006’s Honey and Clover.

Now, I know, in your mind it probably makes perfect sense to compare these two works–they’re both youth-centered romance dramas, and they’re both produced by the dudes, J.C. Staff. However, this comparison makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Toradora! is based off of a series of light novels targeted pretty cleanly at the shounen demographic. Yes, it is penned by a woman, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s pretty much locked in shounen structure and conventions. Honey and Clover is based off of a manga series made for the josei demographic, and its plot is similarly driven by josei conventions. Yes, both of these works are romance stories, but saying one is better than the other, or trying to draw parallels between the two makes no sense because their goal is completely different. Toradora!’s goal is to entertain the shounen/otaku demographic, while Honey and Clover is meant to entertain college-aged young women. Of course, one can like Honey and Clover and still be a dude (I’m one of them) but comparing and contrasting it to Toradora! is simply ridiculous.

“But, wah!” you say, “both of these fine Japanese cartoons are by J.C. Staff, and even share some of the same core staff!” And to that I say, “so what?” While J.C. Staff probably has the freedom to bend the story however they wish, they tend to play their adaptations pretty faithful to their original works (with some exceptions, of course) so this is more or less a non-issue.

In conclusion: Stop comparing Toradora! to Honey and Clover. Getting mad at Toradora! because it’s not acting like Honey and Clover is like getting mad at Maria†Holic for not acting like Ouran High School Host Club.

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