I am no fan of romances. I find them very superficial and eventless, simplistic and above all UNREAL. Yet there are a few exception when even I (almost) cried while watching these soap operas and such a case was Kare Kano. It was different for two simple yet meaningful reasons.
1) The artwork was full of colorless pencil sketches and footage of real photographs on various scenes. Although one would rush to call that lazy or lack of funds, it worked for me because as I said made it so much different than you average flowers and rainbows looking romance. It was artistic on its own way to show sketching and photography. So what if it’s cheaper to make than usual? It sure worked for me.
2) The main characters are all full of internal monologues, revealing their real selves as well as their thoughts to the viewer, when at first they appear to be different people, pretending to be perfect in the eyes of the world. This game of façade and revelation gave a psychological endoscope to a genre that most would never dream of expecting. It is about shallow teen romances; who cares about psychology? Well I do if I am to stay interested for more than five minutes. And it worked marvelously.
Kare Kano is still the archetypical story of teenage couples in high school, falling in love and having to deal with some serious (for their still carefree age) problems. The thing that makes it different is the transition from rivalry, to friendship, to a relationship out of norms (perfect people deserve perfect people), to the revelation that both are not what they appear to be at first. It is very amazing to see how someone can pretend to be a completely different person in public just to have a positive image and for a genre that aims to have its cast as perfect as possible, Kare Kano did a bold thing to make them imperfect along the way, without ever making them unsympathetic sanavabitches (School Days anyone?). They are just far more edgy and messy in their private lives but that is all. Nothing terrible but still enough to spoil their image and thus worthy of being kept top secret to anyone who is not in a relation with them.
The story escalates very fast in the beginning and unlike most romances it is not about the couple blushing, looking away, hitting each other over misunderstandings and after 100 episodes simply admitting they just “like” each other. No sir, straight from the beginning they are drawn together and their façade drops almost immediately. Along the way we see something similar happening to many other secondary characters, thus the feeling of introspection slowly expands to more than two people. That is another great thing I liked about it.
Unfortunately, Kare Kano still suffered from heavy budget restraints and towards the end had to mostly rely on static pictures to keep going to the point it was no longer artistic but plain cheap and boring. At least the music department didn’t suffer from that since the OST was done before the restrains kicked in. And it is a good collection of pop and piano pieces, fitting the mood of the series. Also, the voice actors never gave irritating tones to their characters and thus they are all likable.
The anime also had to stop with the story left incomplete and practically messy. The characters are also going in circles without progressing further because the producers themselves realized they couldn’t move forward and just fooled around until they ran out of episodes. It is very easy to disappoint those who want powerful endings.
Although the quality of the anime drops vertically in the second half, I still cherish it as something unique amongst the genre. And hey, if you so much want to see what happens next, you can always read the manga so it’s not like there is no way to be pleased. Cheap, I know, but better than nothing. I mostly like the artistic overtones and the psychological aspect of the show and not its romantic nature, things that were ruined because of FRAKIN’ SOULLESS MONEY and not lack of talent. And guess what, there were many different directors in the show, the most important and famous of which is Hideaki Anno of the NGE fame. Still wonder why the characters are so mentally unstable? But anyways, it is a worthy title after of which you must run to read the rest in the manga. That is all.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 5/10
General Artwork 1/2 (cute but run down)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (artsy)
Animation 0/2 (bad)
Visual Effects 1/2 (artsy)
SOUND SECTION: 8/10
Voice Acting 3/3 (simple but meaningful)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 6/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 1/2 (erratic)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 2/2 (plausible)
Conclusion 0/2 (doesn’t exist)
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
Presence 2/2 (strong)
Personality 2/2 (rather cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (strong for some but the rest don’t develop)
Catharsis 0/2 (doesn’t exist)
VALUE SECTION: 7/10
Historical Value 2/3 (quite famous)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too little plot)
Memorability 4/4 (extremely well made to the point of forever remembering it)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 7/10
Art 1/1 (looks artsy)
Sound 1/2 (nice songs)
Story 2/3 (simple but meaningful; derails in the second half)
Characters 3/4 (they are simple but feel nice)
The premise of this anime sounded promising, and I'm sure if they decided to remake this it would be a pretty good show. The cover artwork is misleading as it looks very clean and modern, especially for being a late 90s anime. However I dropped this after suffering two episodes, and normally I'll give it a good go before walking away.
The story seems good, a girl in school who strives to be perfect in everything, is actually a slob and wears glasses and a tracksuit at home. A boy in her class who she considers her rival, actually likes her and after she blows his love confession out of the water he accidentally discovers the truth about her and uses it to his advantage.
The problems with this anime are immediate. The female VA seems to have been directed to get the entire script done in under 60 seconds, so your ears are treated to a verbal bashing akin to someone yelling something important to you as they speed past you on the bullet train.
The male VA sounds like he is just phoning it in, very lifeless and sounds older than the fifteen years he is meant to be.
To the artwork, which at first looks clean and modern, very quickly you notice the quality is not very good at all. Sometimes the characters mouths don't move when they are speaking, sometimes they move too much. The artwork flits constantly between normal and a weird chibi style that's more like a shorter fatter version of the main character, to stills from the manga. Whoever edited it was like a kid with a new toy and wanted to get as many cuts in as possible so you barely have time to process what is on the screen before the scene changes again.
Im not an anime snob. Whilst I love some of the detail and scenery included in more recent anime, I still love the style and energy of 90s anime. But, when you compare this to other anime from the same decade - sailor moon and wedding peach for example - this show is very poor in comparison. I recently finishe cardcaptor Sakura which was made the same year and the quality is light years apart.
From what I've read the quality only gets worse. The writer didn't like what the anime did to the story, and the director left half way through, although this does not account for the very poor start.
The music is irritating and blares over the top of the already shouty speed talking main character.
Overall this could have been better. I hope someone chooses to remake it one day, as the story sounds good on paper.
I was expecting Kare Kano to be yet another silly romantic comedy. I was wrong. It's different from the rest and oh so refreshing.
This anime has many flaws, but it's definetely worth a watch.
It's set in high school and protagonists are our two high school students, Miyazawa and Arima. The first 10 episodes are dedicated to Miyazawa and Arima's relationship, after that the spotlight passes to the secondary characters - and that's the reason why many people say that after episode 10 it's largely filler. Well, I do admit it's annoying. I would have liked to see the main story more developed too. Anyway, there isn't much of a plot because the anime is unquestionably character-driven.
And the characters are in fact very well built and developed. Miyazawa prides herself on being a model student, admired by teachers and students alike. She loves being praised and puts a lot of hard work in creating that perfect image of herself she then successfully manages to broadcast to the whole school. Initially she comes across as quite annoying. Arima, too, is a model student, popular, handsome and liked by everyone, both boys and girls. The two meet, and the initial rivalry between them paves the way for the development of a deeper relationship: they get to know the real person hiding behind the model student mask and in the process they also understand themselves better. Obviously they fall in love. The relationship, the interaction between them also makes them change - and this process is very well narrated. Miyazawa is a more superficial character if compared to Arima; but you've gotta love her guts. She isn't scared of admitting her faults and mistakes; and it's quite a paradox for one so eager to be praised, but she doesn't let other people's judgement influence her. At a certain point her female classmates gang up against her so she is effectively the object of some serious bullying, not only doesn't she break down she also rejects Arima and the teacher's offer to help, determined to solve things by herself on her own terms. It's so easy when you describe episodes of bullying to portray victims. But she doesn't even for a moment think of herself as a victim. I really liked that. And she seems to see things more clearly, she has a clearer intuition of how her relationship with Arima is evolving and where it's going. I'm more of an Arima character myself, as in troubled and prone to overthinking things and lacking in self-confidence. So I really really liked Miyazawa. Arima has more depth, but I really couldn't empathise that much with him; even though, as I just said, I have a very similar personality. So, yeah, the characters are good. And the relationship is interesting. But I can't help feeling that it could've been even better. More's the pity that they introduced all those secondary characters and comedic filler episodes. As for the minor characters, some are better than others and some are better developed than others. Thanks to them we see some nice episodes of friendship, and often they serve to give insight on the two main characters.
The soundtrack is really something. I wouldn't download it, but it's different from what we normally get and it really helps to define the mood and atmosphere. For what concerns the animation, everyone points out that the anime suffered from a serious lack of funds and insufficient budget. But nonetheless, I like how they managed to make things look artistic using sketches and black and white drawings and the such. I found it appealing to my aesthetic sense. I think this worked especially well for the scenes where deep emotions were being conveyed. What I didn't particularly like were all the still images - drawings and photos - of completely random stuff, mainly traffic lights, water taps, brooms in the school cupboard, industrial sites, drainage systems, school chairs etc. I just don't get what of any of that has to do with the story.
So I definetely do recommend it. It's an entertaining and funny anime. It's got some good character development. It's more realistic than other anime dealing with the same topic. And it explores the relationship between the two main characters quite in depth. But there's a lot of filler and some of the secondary characters and their stories could have been easily left out. Even though it undeniably is a love story, my impression is that there wasn't all that much romance in the end. It's more of an analysis of the relationship between the two main characters and how that relationship changes them and to what extent they are aware of those changes. And in my opinion it would have been better if it had stuck to this - which it did really well - instead of being side-tracked by the minor characters.
Kare Kano (AKA His and Her Circumstances) is an anime about a group of freshman highschool students during the late 1990s. To say it follows the story of just one character would be inaccurate despite Yukino Miyazawa and Soichiro Arima having the most story and screentime. There is a good amount of romance and more importantly there is a lot of comedy in this anime. Still, things happen, relationships are formed, hostilities take place and people become friends. I'm very worried that I may spoil this anime during this review due to there being significant story progression in the first half of the anime. EDIT: I managed to keep it spoiler free :)
Usually I wouldn't have much to say about animation and sound. The sound here is very good, orchestral and some music that I can only describe as comedic, really help to set the mood during scenes. When certain pieces of music come on, you know what sort of scene to expect, whether its something serious or funny and the music really adds to each moment. Its not so amazing that I want to get the soundtrack however, but thats likely due to my taste in music. This anime is available in both English and Japanese audio. Though I would recommend subtitles as there is a lot of Japanese text used in this anime. Speaking of which, some interesting facts on the English dub voice actors, the actoress for Yukino is the same person who does Ash Ketchum's voice in the original Pokemon anime. Also the mother character and Aya Sawada (side-character) share the same voice actress who did the voices of both Misty and Jesse in the same anime.
Animation is important in this anime. Despite being made during the 1990s, the actual quality of the animation is average at best. But it's the unique way in which they use the animation that really had me excited, the excellent style of animation. The use of colours was unique, in a good way that you wouldn't see in animes too much nowadays. The colours really added to the mood and monochrome or lack of colour (black&white) was used to great effect. For example, during a flashback scene the colours are black and white, which helps to define the scene well. They also use a lot of drawn animation, i.e. sketches, during important moments and it really helps to accentuate the mood and feelings conveyed by the moment. Using single colours and keeping things basic during those moments just makes it easy to understand whats going on, its like a clean animation with no mess. A lot of text is used for jokes and to explain things, such as thought bubbles and labels. It almost gives it a comic book feel and in the last episode, no spoilers, they really go over the top and it feels like an animated comic book/manga which isn't a bad thing. Theres even one episode where they do it in the style of low-budget anime, using paper cut-outs on sticks and real life pictures as backgrounds, which really adds to the comedy value of that episode. That said, the inconsistency in the animation can sometimes be annoying. There are some sequences in which the fourth wall is broken, but these are within reason.
The characters are well thought out. Yukino Miyazawa is arguably the main female character in this anime. It starts off with her story and from the start she appears to be a two-faced model student from a happy middle-class family, acting nice in front of others just for praise. Initially I hated this character, but then you realise that she is only a human being and she has her problems. A good deal of the anime follows the stories of both this character and Soichiro Arima.
The Miyazawa family is a happy, somewhat, normal middle class family. Father seems to be overprotective of his 3 daughters, mother seems to spur the antics of the rest of the family on and Yukino's two younger sisters, are pretty much energetic kids, despite being in middle school. These characters play the comic relief role pretty well, so they are generally funny, father and sisters especially and they even have some serious parts, including a flashback history of the parents.
Souichiro Arima, the main male character, is also a model student, but he is from a prosperous family of Doctors and his father is the head of one hospital. He seems to be the perfect guy, but again you eventually find out that he also has motives to strive for perfection, as well as a tragic dark past. His human side really shows in th later episodes as he finds himself dependant on certain other characters.
Hideaki Asaba plays the perverted fool and is surprisingly a funny character. He aspires to gain the attention of every girl in school and wants Soichiro to help him with his plans. As Soichiro's friend, tends to overstep his boundaries, often staying over at the Arima residence and appearing to have comedic romantic interest with Arima, which he oft denies and the girls swoon over.
Tsubasa Shibahime is another funny character, she is also a freshman high school student, despite both looking and acting like a child. She is agressive and can best be described as an agressive puppy (though oft depicted as a cat, i.e. cat-eyes). She has her own situation, which this anime explores in some episodes. Unfortunately, this character becomes less important during the latter half of the series, depicted as a child/animal doing relevant things like piggy-backing friends and picking a fight with a cat!?! That was a bit disappointing given the investment into this character.
Among the more minor characters, Takefumi Tonami is one who appears towards the end of the anime and this could have been bad (phew), had they handled it terribly. This guy is your typical, used to be fat and bullied, went away and came back good-looking and strong character (I've noticed this type of character in another anime). He has a significant amount of story in the episodes he's in. I could mention other side characters but they all have lesser roles. However those characters are still written well.
The story is great for most of the anime, with the main romance actually having some progression (unlike so many other anime). Theres a lot on backstory and character development too. One thing I didn't like however, was the sheer amount of screen time taken up by recaps. I'm pretty sure there were a few episodes dedicated to recaps. I also was confused at one point as the the progression of the romance, whether something had happened or not. It seemed a bit vague. The ending was also slightly disappointing as it builds up to an event at the school which never gets shown and the last episode gives the impression there's more. I'd have to say the story is the weakest link in what is otherwise a great anime.
If you want to watch an anime for comedy, by all means, I recommend this. There were points where I couldn't help but laugh out loud. If you want romance, then this is also a decent watch. If you feel a bit iffy by the age of this anime, don't be put off, this anime does some things a lot better than some of the more recent anime.
Family-friendliness Rating: 1/5 No ecchi or panty shots whatsoever. Even the pervy guy keeps things rated PG (lower is better)
Overall Rating: 8/10 (higher is better)