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[His and Her Circumstances box art]
AKA: 彼氏彼女の事情 (Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou), KareKano
Genre: High school romance comedy / drama
Length: Television series, 26 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: R1 DVD from Right Stuf
Content Rating: 13+ (adult situations and themes, mild profanity, slapstick violence, intensity)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Boys Over Flowers, Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, Marmalade Boy
Notes: Based on the manga by Tsuda Masami, available from TokyoPop as "KareKano".

Watching Dave Hungerford watch this show has been decreed the #1 spectator sport at recent THEM Anime Nights.
Rating:
 

His and Her Circumstances

Synopsis

Miyazawa Yukino has always been a showoff. She's always wanted to be Number One, to be the very best in everything, to be adored by all others. Then one day, she meets her match: Arima Souichirou, who seems about as perfect as she strives to be. But no one is quite what they seem ... for whenever Yukino goes home, off comes the "ojousama" facade - and on go the headbands, reading glasses, and sweats. Miss Congeniality is in fact a conniving, petty con artist with a streak of absolute nerdy bliss. Of course, Yukino isn't the *only* one hiding a secret, since Arima himself isn't quite what he seems either. And these two are caught in a tennis love match that won't end until ...

Review

(original review)

If there's one word that can sum up this anime, it has to be "groovy". From the mock-'60s soundtrack, the frequent lapses into SD, and the characters' own charm, this series is great fun. It's just as high school as Marmalade Boy is, though in a different way ... all the uncertainties of feelings, and all the utter lapses of whimsical logic are right here, personified in the characters of Miyazawa Yukino and Arima Souichirou, who seem tailor-made for each other, in all their weirdness. Add in a LOT of random shots of anything, be it a window, a dripping faucet, or Pero Pero, the token mascot dog, and you quickly realize that Gainax is responsible for this utterly strange series.

Unlike Evangelion though, KareKano (as the show is nicknamed) doesn't seem to take itself very seriously from the get-go. It seems like a slightly more grown-up Kodocha, though not quite the same. In fact, KareKano has a lot of uniqueness to it, from the ending credits (random live-action shots of a real Japanese high school), to the preview of the next episode, as told by the voice actresses of Yukino's little sisters (who at times seem wiser than any other character in this TV series, parents included).

Technically, the animation's ... well, you can tell they didn't have much of a budget, but that's okay when you consider that the presentation is actually *very* good, using many different devices that are clever and hilarious. (Like, for example, borrowing a couple scenes from the manga to tell a joke.) Again, the music is downright cool, ranging from Santana-esque guitar riffs, such as when Yukino's plotting her "Love Missions" (don't ask ^_^), to very romantic piano pieces, reminiscent of Marmalade Boy and Kimagure Orange Road.

His and Her Circumstances is a fun series that is well worth your time, and if you don't mind a few really strange jokes popping in every now and then, and a few random shots of any scenery (maybe it's a reflection of the character's inner feelings ... or maybe it's just Anno Hideaki's whimsy, who knows?) you'll be in for one heck of a time watching these two high schoolers learn to be themselves.

(addendum)

And now we've seen the whole series, front to back. Wow, what a ride.

Just when I thought KareKano had little more to say, everything changed, and a new story unfolded. Characters (and very interesting characters) popped in left and right. And nothing was over once Arima and Yukino called themselves kareshi and kanojo. It took about eight episodes, and then I realized I was watching what just might be the next Gunbuster: fluff turned classic. Could lightning strike twice?

That's what I hoped, anyway, and unlike Neon Genesis Evangelion, each episode I screened of KareKano was not just consistently good, but better with each viewing. I couldn't tear my eyes off the screen with a pair of pliers.

And why should I? The ensemble cast is magnificent, and the writing is unbelievably good. Everything just fell into place for the cast and crew, and KareKano was Gainax gone absolutely right. What was really enjoyable was the each time Yukino and Arima introduced someone new, they played off each other like they'd always been friends. We could start with the hilarious playboy Asaba (Asa-pin, to us) and the "wild beast" Tsubasa, and so on and so forth. I swear they all could have been my friends in high school!

Even the animation style grew on me, and goodness knows I don't like reading my anime, but the manga style translated quite well into the animated show. His and Her Circumstances proved a wonderful experiment in what could be done with an anime visually to make it different from everything else on the television.

But there's a reason KareKano only lasted 26 episodes. It feels like after the pivotal episode 19 (well, they didn't really run out of budget, but it looked like it for a gutwrenchingly Monty Python 25 minutes), the creators all but lost interest. The thrill of having these fanboys run a girly anime lost its luster. KareKano got (gasp!) boring! But not to us viewers.

Even to the bitter, untimely end of the series, the relationship between Yukino and Arima forges ahead, and despite the changeover of directors (Anno quit midway due to a dispute with sponsors) and writers, KareKano manages to be mostly engaging right down to episode 26.

His and Her Circumstances was robbed of its chance to be an epic series by the mercurial nature of its animators and the massive (years-long) delay of its then-neophyte mangaka, Tsuda Masami. Even then, it remains probably the most disarmingly honest shoujo romance ever made. Unlike so many shows where the leads are riddled with indecision and angst, it takes the time to examine both sides of a situation, and then the leads make their choices and live with them. The emotions running through Arima and Yukino are made all the more poignant by knowing what the other is thinking, and that goes for the others, too.

Dammit, why didn't they make more?

Even with all its flaws, the storyline and characters propel this to the top of its class. Some may find the lack of ending frustrating and dismaying, and they will take it down a notch or two.Carlos Ross and Eric Gaede

Recommended Audience: Mild, mostly stapsticky violence (like a couple of punches and chase scenes) and general weirdness would prevent the youngest of viewers from watching this anyway, but this show is aimed at teens and above, as this goes through all the phases of teenage relationship angst. One major character suffers from the lasting scars of child abuse, and later episodes do have implied (but tastefully handled) adult situations.



Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub; R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (26/26)
His and Her Circumstances © 1998 Masami Tsuda / Hakusensha / GAINAX / The Kare2Group / TV Tokyo / SOFTX