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Kare Kano Review (His and Her Circumstances/Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou)

Kare Kano is an anime that I first came across when I was around the same age as the protagonists, and then later returned to as an adult.  In both cases, I found it to be a compelling anime, though perhaps for slightly different reasons.  Kare Kano is, essentially, a brief exposition of adolescent emotions and first love, and the first four episodes are one of the most effective examples of the genre that I have come across.   The rest of the series wavers in quality much further, and both the storytelling and quality start to decline significantly – I wouldn’t consider them required viewing.  However, even if only for its initial story arc, the series is a standout in its category.

The plot is more or less a plain one with no twists – Miyazawa, the main character, is a young girl who is respected by her classmates as a model student.  This image is a construct, and the real Miyazawa is anything but refined.  Another top student in the school, Arima Souchiro, takes a liking to her, but she is more concerned about making sure he doesn’t top her on the next exams.  However, when he drops by her house unexpectedly and sees her real personality, Miyazawa has to deal with the consequences.  Out of this somewhat contrived plot comes a very genuine and entertaining story of young love.

The main success of this anime is in its detailed and objective approach to teenage emotions, mixed with enough humour to prevent a sense of melodrama.  The director gives us a great deal of knowledge of the characters’, particularly Miyazawa’s, thoughts, so that her behavior, though perhaps irrational outside of context, becomes entirely understandable once we understand her flow of logic.  The first few episodes in particular are in many ways a constant (and sometimes neurotic-sounding) monologue and exposition from the main character, and we a get full understanding of all her doubts and fears.  We know the reasoning behind every move she makes, and thus, though her problems may be trivial in the grand scheme of things, we can sympathize with her.

I do have to say that although there were clearly some budget problems throughout the series, the anime made use of what it had very well and produced some very creative scenes.  For example, there is one scene in episode 6 where the same sequence is repeated twice, but from the perspectives of the two main characters.  I have a feeling that reusing the same visuals twice, saving animation work, may have been a factor in doing that scene the way it was done.  However, the director managed to mold this into such an entertaining scene that it can be excused.  Later on, though, there are many scenes where the animation is instead reduced almost entirely to still frames in an almost manga-like style.  Sometimes it is very jarring.  But, to be frank, in this kind of story, animation quality is not as important as the story and characters, and Kare Kano is generally strong enough in this area to ignore its limitations.

Apparently, the original director left somewhere in the latter half due to creative differences, and if the result is any indication, he was responsible for a fair bit of the brilliance of the show.  Thus the quality of the show begins to degrade and the ending is rather weak.  If these flaws weren’t so bold and apparent, I would gladly overlook them, but when it comes right down to it, this anime will be a severe disappointment to many people.  Not because it is a poorly done series, but because it showed quite a bit of promise but then withered towards the end and failed to provide a satisfying conclusion.

I also wasn’t really a fan of some of the extended cast in the latter half.  As I mentioned, one of the strongest appeals in the show were the two main characters – this was their show.  When Tsubasa, a male friend of Arima who has a comedic rivalry with Miyazawa, enters the scene, the chemistry between him and the leads is indeed a welcome addition…….But when the cast grows further, and the nucleus of the story drifts away from the interaction between Miyazawa and Arima, my interest started to drift as well.  Don’t get the wrong idea – it’s still highly entertaining in its own right, as a high school comedy, but it loses that exceptional quality that made the first few episodes as good as they were.

A brief note on the music – of the huge mass of scores which utilize the “tinkling piano solo” as a constant element, Kare Kano is certainly one of the more memorable.  It also has a great opening and ending theme.

Kare Kano is not a perfect anime, but even after all these years, it is one that always seems stuck in my mind.  After rewatching it recently, I must say that while watching it now is indeed a different experience from watching it years ago when I was the same age as the characters, it has lost none of its charm.  It is an enjoyable depiction of a stage of life that most people take for granted until it’s over – though Whisper of the Heart will remain the leader of this category. Looking past the comedy or romance label, this is also simply a good portrayal of high school life, and despite its drop in quality, I would still recommend it as an endearing story about growing up.   

6 responses so far

All comments welcome. Don't mind the age of the post.

6 Responses to “Kare Kano Review (His and Her Circumstances/Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou)”

  1. leonkenon Oct 9th 2009

    what is there age???

  2. Joseon Nov 7th 2009

    I absolutely love Kare Kano. Have you tried “Maison Ikkoku”. I love that as well.

    Do you have any recommendations for great romantic anime ??

  3. Theowneon Nov 7th 2009

    Yep, just take a look at my top ten list.

  4. alexon Nov 30th 2009

    i just finished watching it last night and i was so disappointed. like what is the point making an anime and if they dont finish it. i even bought the dvd box set but now im starting to regret it, well i still love kare kano but somehow it irritates me. i have watched some of anime like kare kano icluding la corda d’oro. i play piano maybe that is why i enjoy watchig it but like i said there is no point making an anime if there is no ending. if i were the producer or whoever company it was, i would continue the kare kano.

  5. Hikarion Apr 10th 2010

    Kare Kano really managed to impress me unexpectedly:)It was an enjoyable story and Yukino and Arima made such an amazing pair…I especially enjoyed the few intimate scenes they shared:)But one of the gratest parts of this anime was the ending theme song “Into a Dream” and its instrumental part played countless times throughtout the anime.Major disappointment about the funding and abrupt ending of the anime…it had tremendous potential but didn’t truly manage to reach it;(

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