Yukino had it all. Brilliant, athletic, popular and pretty, she was the perfect school girl with many friends and admirers. But then one fateful day she met her match: a handsome young man named Arima. Now, not only is he beating her at her own game, she's becoming more and more dismayed to learn that she's developing her first real feelings of romance. Can Yukino maintain her model student appearance, or will love ruin all her plans?
StoryKare Kano was recommended to me by quite a few people as another good look at relationships, in a realistic way. Perhaps I expected too much, but I came into it thinking it would be a relationship series. I was wrong. While the first under 10 episodes do focus primarily on the two main characters becoming involved, barely any serious mention of the relationship happens after the fact. There are a few minor exceptions later on, but the overall tone changes quickly from "wow, this could be a great relationship series", to "random filler comedy". Keep in mind, the comedy isn't even that funny, or at least *i* didn't think so. The problem with it was that it tried TOO hard to be comedic and random, but just ended up falling flat. The filler tended to focus on the characters and their pasts/lives/etc, but was too scattered and random. The overall good relationship series feel is overthrown by silly attempts at lovers quarrels or misunderstandings, with slapstick thrown in. Another huge disadvantage to this series is the amount of flashbacks involved with the story. At first, a mention at the beginning of each episode of what happened in the prior one is a decent idea, especially since the series is new and people want to pick it up. However, the flashbacks continue during EVERY SINGLE EPISODE at the beginning, eventually getting to upwards of 3 minutes, explaining everything that has happened. It's like the producers thought "OH GOD, ONE MORE PERSON MIGHT TUNE IN ON WEEK 15!! BETTER SHOW THE WHOLE STORY AGAIN!". Not to mention, eventually the flashbacks span an entire episode, or even ONE AND A HALF. Obviously the people who wrote the series realized how incredibly uninteresting the "plot" was once the relationship was over, so they felt the just needed to rehash the relationship flashback over and over, so people would keep watching, thinking and hoping that kind of a good story would come back again. In addition, there really isn't an ending.. and the last episode doesn't even really focus on the main characters anyways (or more of it doesn't). Granted, since the plot went right down the toilet after a few episodes, it isn't like it could end on a dramatic plot note... but intense angst and random sad thoughts of the characters made it seem like it would end on a tragic note, and instead it just ended. Bah. AnimationThe animation is definitely older looking, with very simple looking character designs. At first (like most other things in this series), the animation seems like it will be a decent mix of certain things: regular style, chibis occasionally, and interesting mixes of real shots as well as stenciled images during the stressful type scenes. Artistic, you think... but not for long. As the series progresses the animation steadily becomes more and more chibified and still drawings. By the last few episodes, it was just ridiculous. Literally 5 minutes of one episode would be normal animation, and the rest would be super cheesy chibis all the time, or massive amounts of still scenes that looked like they took 2 seconds to draw. I'm all for comedic drawings or the occasional tasteful still shot, but as I said, Kare Kano pushed new boundaries. Not since Violinist of Hamelin have I seen so many still shots near the end. Also, as the last few episodes crept up, it just started getting plain weird. Abstract visuals and such made you think you were watching End of Eva or something obscure. Big thumbs down from me on the animation. SoundThe music definitely gets high marks from me. A few of the tracks made me think of Amelie (a very well-done French movie), and others were simply beautiful piano pieces. I didn't pay much attention to the normal or comedic parts, because it sounded like regular old anime background music. But I must say that the sad or melancholy happy tracks were beautiful. As far as voice actors, fairly fitting. Though one of Yukino's friend's voice didn't fit her small childlike appearance. CharactersI can't lie and say there wasn't character development, because the majority of the series are based on that, but the character development just wasn't interesting, moving, or otherwise compelling at all to me. Take the two main characters... once Yukino and Arima hook up (this isn't really a spoiler, as it happens in episode 2 I believe), they still have serious issues becoming "involved" with each other. Granted, I know this is partially a cultural thing, but it still bothered me. One of the reasons people told me to watch this if I liked KgNE, was because like KgNE, Kare Kano was "real", especially about the relationships. I can't see how anyone thought that! They still have serious issues even kissing for a long time after they start dating, they still are totally insecure if the other likes them, even though THEY ARE DATING for christ's sake. I will admit (and the reason why this score was a 7 and not a 4) that at some times, the characters did seem real... such as their skeletons in the closet from their pasts, their hangups on insecurity and flaws that I think most high schoolers and even adults have. But this was overshadowed by extreme immaturity involving the actual relationship, in their case. Most of the characters had at least one episode devoted to them. In some cases, this was appropriate and worked well, such as Yukino's friends. In others, it felt like the episode was just completely randomly thrown in, and was totally uninteresting (such as Yukino's parents, and her sisters, the only episode (25) that I actually almost completely skipped because of how annoyed I was at the series at that point). In general, I just wasn't attached to any of them. Yukino was extremely bi-polar and whiny, and overreacted to everything. Arima became flat out weird by the last few eps (and it REALLY reminded me of the last two episodes of Eva, the whole "retrospective look inside my mind" thing). The friends were obnoxious and acted totally immature and asinine. Blech. OverallQuite frankly, this series did not live up to its hype at ALL. I see almost entirely positive reviews for this series everywhere else, and I just don't know why. I really had high hopes for it at the beginning, thinking it would be a good relationship series. Granted, I thought it was really bipolar (I don't like series which alternate between extreme slapstick and extreme seriousness), but I still had hope. But after awhile, the relationship idea went down the drain and the filler was totally uninteresting. I just don't see why this series would get high reviews. The animation was bad, the characters were either unrealistic or shallow, though the series did try to make them 3-dimensional. The flow was complete garbage from episode to episode, it couldn't decide if it was a show, or a series made entirely of recap episodes, etc. And just as a note, I like slice of life shows. I like slow shows, and I like shows about nothing. But nothing about this slice of life type show was amusing, funny, or exciting, except the weak concept of a relationship which was ditched for randomness and "humor" early on. I gave Kare Kano a 6 because the music was good, and sometimes the characters showed depth. Plus it wasn't complete trash, so it didn't get a low 5 or below. But still, I completely recommend not seeing this. If you want a relationship series, watch an actual relationship series like Kimi ga Nozomu Eien. If you want a light random comedy, get Azumanga Daioh, Fruits Basket, or perhaps Jing. But Kare Kano's fatal flaw is that it can't decide what kind of show it wants to be, and/or visually looks like the budget got totally wiped the last 6-8 episodes. I want 26 episodes worth of my life back. For rewatchability, very, very poor. I would never watch this again. Not only was there no plot, but the filler/slice of life stuff was completely non-funny and boring. Bad animation and two-dimensional who are trying to be three-dimensional characters made for a bad experience all around.
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 :) Sound 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 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. Characters 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. Story 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. Conclusion 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)
Kare Kano (A.k.a. His and Her Circumstances or Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou) Yukino Miyazawa has been a model student all her life and is going to attend high school to continue this. She hides her real personality behind an unbreakable mask in order to get praised and be seen as model student. Though things changes as Souichirou Arima appears. He's a model student as well, though with another background. A bond forms between them. Story and Characters 8.5/10 - 9/10 The story seems nothing more than an unoriginal high school drama. My opinion about this seriously changed after I finished watching the first few episodes. While nearly all other high school dramas put most effort in the so called “problems which interfere with their relation”, this anime lays its accent more on the growth of the bond between them and the things they think. This is something not everyone likes, because there is a lot less action in the episodes which are dedicated to the growth of the bond compared to the action in the episodes dedicated to the relation-problems. The anime started of good and would have been one of the best I had ever seen, if it wasn’t for a few flaws. It contained quite a bit recap. Once every two or three episodes they threw in a 3 minute recap and at some point they even put in a 1.5 episode recap (= around 30 minutes). This is something I find inexcusable for people who paid a lot of money to buy it or spend a lot of time downloading it. In addition to that, the series seemed to get less serious as you get further in the series. The hilarious humour happens more and more frequent and extreme. One episode was worth mentioning. That episode seems dedicated to this humour all episode long, making it hard to follow. This brings me to the next point. It’s fast, really fast. The speed the words are said and the texts are written down on your screen make it an anime you really need to concentrate on. Another thing I wasn’t really satisfied was the ending. Since I cannot spoil, I will not tell any more than that. An option for this is to get the manga which is apparently has the complete story. The reason for this is probably the fact that this anime was a low-budget anime. This explains why they put in the recap episodes. The characters are found in a lot of different flavours. The two main characters “Souichirou Arima” and “Yukino Miyazawa” were two characters I could hardly find in any other series. I found the second for one really unique. Later in the series her twisted character will show. A few other characters worth mentioning are Hideaki Asaba and Tsubase Shibahime which will appear in the series as time advances and are two really interesting characters. Animation/Art 9.5/10 The art was something I was utterly impressed of. It was the main reason for purchasing the anime, because the covers contained art, Last Exile would be jealous of. I thought the art would only be like this, but I was quite wrong about this. Sometimes the characters change to the so called SD (Super Deformed) characters or chibies. This was something I likes, since it gives a lot of colour to the anime. In addition to these SD characters or chibies, they were quite random with the facial expressions too. It held some excessive facial features, like huge mouths filled with sharp teeth or little dots which represent eyes. Since it was most probably a low-budget anime, they didn’t animate everything, but put some art from the manga in the series. They did this at the appropriate times and really gave the animation a whirl. This is something I have only seen in a few series. When I first saw it, it gave the situation it was used in a really satisfying atmosphere. The art would have been perfect in my opinion if they hadn’t used the terrible art in one episode. All characters were cut out of paper and coloured in by a child. While they might have thought it would have been original (which it was) it was something so extremely different from the other episodes that I wasn’t all that happy about it. In addition to using this art, they made a no sense episode too, making it a real horror to watch. Sound and Music 9.5/10 Once again a great effort made for the music. Often I won’t even notice music played apart from the opening and ending theme. Three OST’s were released for this anime, so practically I couldn’t miss the music played. There is one opening theme at the start of every series. The song used, was not a really special one, but fit well with the animation used in the opening theme and it has vocals. It does contain a minor spoiler and you wouldn’t think the art would have been that versatile by watching the opening. The ending is different for every episode. It’s a song with vocals and pretty high tempo. You don’t get to see any animated characters in the ending theme, but instead they move with a camera all around a high school the first ten episodes or so and other locations the rest of the series. This gave me a really good impression what a high school looks like, since I am not living in a country which has something like a high school. Because I liked the ending song more than the opening song and because the ending visuals (it wouldn’t be appropriate to call this animation), I liked the ending more than the opening. The music used in the series was something I was impressed about, for the simple reason that the music was more apparent than other series I have seen. In addition to the awesome art, the music gave the some situations a really emotional atmosphere. Most of the music was mainly made by a piano, but in some songs wind instruments were used. A flaw of this music was that in some occasions the wrong tune was used. For example: In a sad situation they played a music which was in my opinion a bit to happy. Overall 8.8/10 I would personally like to rate the series as two parts. The first part of the series deserves most definitely a 10, but the last few episodes and the recaps only deserve a 7 or lowers. So I made a little compromise and got to a 9. The way the music and animation work together is really something admirable what I haven’t seen in any other high school drama and is something what should be done in a sequel or other series as well, for the simple reason that it gives a lot more “force” to the atmosphere. Normally I am not really that interested in music played in the series apart from the opening and ending themes, but this series is the first one which made me get some OST’s and made me pay more attention to music of other series as well. All by all a original and quite versatile series with quite original characters, great animation and awesome music. If a sequel is released I would personally not even think about not getting it. [NB]Re-published review dating from 2006-2007[/NB]
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