His and Her Circumstances (Kare Kano) – episodes 1 to 11

May 26, 2007 on 9:45 pm | In Kare Kano | 4 Comments

This is what high school anime should be: directed by Anno Hideaki and (not) animated by GAiNAX. There is a lot to love about Kare Kano; much of the time, Anno out Annoes himself, which is always fun, and frequently besides it has many strong messages of comedy, love and drama.

Miyazawa Yukino was the model student of her middle school. Unfortunately for her, in high school there is one better: Arima Souichirou. Miyazawa initially plans to overcome Arima because she is a praise junkie, but in time she comes to realise that maybe she feels something else for him.
Together, Arima and Miyazawa decide to shed their masks and live the remainder of their high school days as themselves: flawed, but happy (and still smart, because study is important).

I don’t really know if this is the case, but Kare Kano seems to me like the prototype of the modern manga adaptation style. The screen is frequently littered, bombarded even, with text – sound effects, mood settings, little character details – the sort that has become increasingly common in more recent years. The reason for this being done in Kare Kano is painfully obvious: after a few episodes, GAiNAX has no money. Episode six is almost literally not animated at all; still frames, the addition of text which is exactly the same as the spoken dialogue and, very rarely, minimal lip synch are all employed in this episode. The series tries to restore some of its dynamism after this, but it is irrevocably changed – and not for the worse.

With its interesting style, born of both Annoism and cheapness (one might argue that these things go hand in hand, like otaku and cup ramen: Anno’s genesis), Kare Kano has the aesthetic to impress. It also, quite fortunately, has a story and themes that are executed well.
I am by now well versed in the idea of living behind a mask and the toll that it affects on a person; I am only just discovering what happens when you scrape away at the surface of the true self. This sort of realisation of character is the propulsive element of Kare Kano and is precisely what makes it stick. Thus far, no one is fundamentally bad and every character can be talked around with reason.

The series is good to the point that episode 11 is presented exactly as Girls’ High would have been if Girls’ High wasn’t as utterly, utterly execrable as it turned out to be. The characters are fun, and the balance of comedy to drama is just right. To many, the series may seem too emotional. These people are known as “cynics”, and should be ignored. In this internet age, we’re being constantly taught to practice emotions unhealthy at both extremes of thought. What people forget is that emotional honesty is tantamount, and that’s precisely what Kare Kano has to offer.

The other things that Kare Kano has to offer is this: a perfect pair of OP and ED, and the debut of Enomoto Atsuko. Yume no naka e is a song that I have been consistently listening to since 2003, and now that I’ve married it to a series it’s like some sort of Heaven.

Of course, every treasure trove has a cloud (you see, it’s kept there for its silver lining), and the gift of GAiNAX is a curse. I believe that Anno didn’t stick with Kare Kano to the end, and the perfectly qualified Tsurumaki Kazuya took over. The other aspect is that, being based on a long running manga series, Kare Kano as an anime has no ending. At episode 26, I have been warned, it just … stops. No more time on air, plenty more manga … instant end.

But if the journey there is this enjoyable, and if it’s a “life goes on” conclusion, I will be totally amicable. (Plus I’m in the devious position of having access to all of the manga – bwaha!)


  1. It’s good to see this show has won over another fan! Admittedly I was lured in by the fact that Anno directed but in the end I realised that I’d sat through a shoujo high school romcom and enjoyed it every bit as much as the gritty and serious science fiction thriller type of shows I normally watch!

    It’s the characterisation that makes it a winner I think – you end up really relating to the cast and caring about what happens to them. I agree that the ‘cheapness’ actually works in its favour at times, and that the ending is very, very, sudden – I’ll start on the manga this summer to see where and how everyone ends up, and no doubt you’ll want to do the same.

    A great review – hope you enjoy the rest of the series! 🙂

    Comment by Martin — May 26, 2007 #

  2. Glad to hear you’ve discovered this wonderful show (wonderful except for the constant recaps and the unresolved ending…but that wasn’t entirely Gainax’s fault). I see this show on a continuum with Honey and Clover–if you watch this show, and then Honey and Clover, you’d have an emotionally believable and compelling chronicle of the high school to post-college years of life.

    Comment by Mike — May 27, 2007 #

  3. The first anime DVD I ever bought was the fisrt volume of KareKano. I’ve never regretted that decision to this day. This is drama at it’s finest and the comedy is also unbelievable. To this day, new anime romantic dramas (like Honey & Clover) are often compared to KareKano as it has become a kind of standard for the genre (and rightfully so).

    I’ve only enjoyed 2 Gainax shows; KareKano and the first season of Mahoromatic (if you ignore the nnoying teacher). KareKano is of course the best of the two and, as far as I’m concerned, it remains the best show that Gainax ever produced.

    Comment by Mohammad — May 27, 2007 #

  4. Very good review. I agree with you that we shouldn’t be affraid of our emotions – if we block everything out, we will miss a lot in life. You decided to split up the show between episodes 1-11 to 12-26, which is right in this case since the show started to decline somewhere around that episode. I must say, I was disappointed by the “ending”, and I’m eager to find out what you thought about it. I understand Anno, though – leaving Gainax after this was the right thing to do.

    Comment by Marin Mandir — August 16, 2007 #

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress with Pool theme design by Borja Fernandez.
Entries and comments feeds. Valid XHTML and CSS. ^Top^