Hey, you know what I haven’t done in a long while? Well, besides an anime review (even though I did One Punch Man earlier this month)……
A review of a ROMANCE anime!!
Yes, in October. I know the whole “I should’ve been doing horror-centric this month” and I will. I have stumbled upon a title directed by someone I usually don’t think of when it comes to romantic comedy/drama slice of life anime and most of you won’t believe it either.
Let’s see what’s with Kare Kano or by its longer English title His and Her Circumstances.
Yukino Miyazawa is really, really vain, and loves to hear people praise her. She’s always been the best at everything, and always tries to look perfect. But when Yukino goes to high school, she’s finally upstaged–by Souichiro Arima, who scores better on the entrance exams and instantly snatches the attention of the class. By accident, Arima finds out that Yukino is just pretending, and this starts off a series of events that lead to Yukino and Arima falling in love. They then have to cope with a lot of obstacles in their relationship.
OK, first things first…….this show is directed by Hideaki Anno.
Yes, that Hideaki Anno. EVA Hideaki Anno…….well, for the first 18 episodes or so but he did write the script to this so yeah…..a romance comedy/drama anime from his hands….
….and he made a great impression of this show here.
A story about someone who loves being praised for being either the poster child of being the perfect model student from having good grades, being popular….or at least present the image of being that perfect student. Yeah, Yukino is pulling a front on everybody to maintain that persona of hers and for most of it, I don’t blame her. I’m not the type of person that says ‘image is everything’ but sometimes how people perceive you can affect you in a way. It’s like you showing yourself a version of you to people to impress but when you in the comfort of your own home, you can be the laid-back, sloppy, lounging person you might be.
As in, an image people wouldn’t normally associate with being a model student but more of a slob.
There is the factor of Arima coming in stealing all of the spotlight from Yukino, her becoming jealous of her and on top of that, him finding out about how Yukino really is outside of school. Now with that, it begin something like a blackmail of things but the more the story goes, the more Arima and Yukino connect with each other by revealing their true selves to each other and thus a relationship between the two blossoms and dealing with the complications of it.
The humor and drama meshes well in the story, having a equal feel to both without one part over weighing the other and the romance dealt with ahead of its time as I feel like something like this would be made in the mid-2000s instead of late 1990s because some of the dramatic elements has a mature feel when it comes to the characters, whether it be relationships with your significant other, your friends, family and how the drama can affect your well-being and easily get you stressed out from that. The romantic elements are progressive and subtle and the comedy happens, it does get hilarious that delivers many chuckles and laughs and it does it in all the right ways. In short, whenever a funny or dramatic moment happens, it does get to you in a way.
However, the ending of the show did irk me as it felt like a long pause that is never going to continue and considering it’s almost been two decades since the show got released……yeah, it’s a long wait….that or just read the manga.
On characters now, there isn’t a single character I outright hated because the way the show portrays them shows they have more layers and complexity about them than just being the usual type of anime archetype. I get why every character (or at least the main ones and some supporting ones) are the way they are and while some of their acts can be looked at as petty and most of it is, it’s not being frivolous of just doing a stupid joke of it. They might have all kinds of feelings about this one situation or the other. If I had to say what characters I like the most…..yeah, that honors goes to Yukino and her sisters Kano and Tsukino but mostly Yukino because I can empathize what she’s going through.
Now, animation-wise, the show started out with plenty of good animation from the teams of Gainax and J.C. Staff (yes, two companies co-animated this one) but the problem with that…..you will definitely notice when they ran out of their budget and by that, I mean, they either re-use animated footage, use character cutouts and what look like manga pages thrown in there. Now, the live-action footage is a unique touch on that but everything else……it was all good for a moment.
Musically, the score is quiet with the soft piano and it does work in the dramatic elements well and then as it gets more silly and whimsy as the humor scenes kick in. The opening theme “Tenshi no Yubikiri (Angel’s Pledge)” by Fukuda Mai is an excellent way of starting the anime from the instrumentation and the vocals. I could listen to this song over and over again and as for the ending theme……meh, that was a decent song, too. It took some time getting used to and it was alright.
Now for the dub and while I get it is a late 1990s dub from New York, out of Headline Sound Studios and I know how people will talk shit about how bad those dubs are but honestly…..this one is pretty good. It’s not actually god-tier but we got some competent acting from the voice actors along with adaptive writing from Crispin Freeman and direction from Joe Thompson. You’ll hear from familiar voices if you watched some New York dubs or Pokemon back in the day……I say that because Veronica Taylor (past voice of Ash Ketchum, now voice of Sailor Pluto) is one of the leads here and she does a fine job as Yukino. At first, I wasn’t feeling Christopher Nicholas as Arima for the first few episodes but after a while, I thought the man was decent in his role. You’ll also hear some familiar NY voices like Lisa Ortiz, Bill Rogers, Rachael Liliis in the mix along with Liam O’Brien as Hideaki and Hello, Jessica Calvello and Megan Hollingshead (!!!)as Tsukino and Kano……especially at the end of each episode where we see them in live-action doing the next episode previews.
FINAL VERDICT: All-in-All, Kare Kano is a well-done romance series that is ahead of its time with its characters, its mature and progressing development of said characters and keeping an equal balance of the drama and the humor steady and not overloaded. While the animation and lack of a stable ending might cost it a point or so, it is still an example of how to make a good romance anime and easily something I would highly recommended to people.
In other words, it gets the well-deserved grade of…..
9/10 – FIRST CLASS
Yep, you did good, Yukino. I just wish we got more of that or something similar to it.
HIS AND HER CIRCUMSTANCES is available on DVD via Nozomi Entertainment/Right Stuf International. As for streaming options, the first 2 episodes are on YouTube via the Nozomi Entertainment page and it is also available to stream on TubiTV on the English dub.
Until then, this is MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid, bringing all the elements in one format…..at least the ones you know.
KARE KANO (His and HER CIRCUMSTANCES) – animated by GAINAX/J.C. STAFF / licensed by NOZOMI ENTERTAINMENT.