Story Kare 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.
Animation The 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.
Sound The 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.
Characters I 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.
Overall Quite 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.