Reviewby Christopher Macdonald,
His and Her Circumstances
DVD 1: The Appearance of a Normal Life
His and Her Circumstances, or Kare Kano for short, is an interesting TV series; much like standard Shoujo-comedy fare (Marmalade Boy, Kodocha) KKNJ pairs up two people who, at the start, are at odds with each other. Or at least that's how one of them feels. In fact, from that starting point, KKNJ pretty much follows the overall plot formula set by those titles and others. This however doesn't make KKNJ any less good. The series has its own original flavor, starting with the original situations that the characters are placed in, the original character designs themselves, and a very different flavor of comedy.
Because the show travels at such a hyper pace, it really feels as if it is longer than it really is. Towards the mid-show eyecatch, one often expects to see the ending credits, only to find out that the show is only half over. This is not to say that the show is long and boring, in fact the truth is the exact opposite; the show is so fast and hyper, with so much happening, that one's “appetite” is more than met by the halfway mark. This is a good thing; the show delivers more story, more comedy and more drama in 22 minutes than any other Anime. Yet, despite delivering so much, it is very hard to stop watching after each episode, the series is quite addictive, and without even using cliffhangers the viewer is left with a strong desire to see what happens next. KKNJ is a bit like a potent drug, one dose is more than enough, but the first dose leaves you wanting more… more.. MORE!
In addition to the great character development, story and English Dub, Kare Kano also delivers on the visual side. While the series is not shock full of eye candy, it does feature pleasant character designs (both female and male), beautiful backgrounds and fluid animation.
And the DVD itself?
To be blunt… this DVD is a masterpiece. TRSI deserves a huge amount of credit for managing to translate such a complicated Anime into English so well.
This Anime adds an interesting spin to the sub vs dub debate, a new disadvantage to subtitles. With the character's talking so fast, and miscellaneous text appearing on the screen at random times, it is pretty much impossible for anyone to catch all the onscreen text and the subtitles. The result is a somewhat diminished viewing pleasure when watching the subtitles, you either pause & rewind, or just miss out on something. Fortunately TRSI did an amazing job with the dub, so even the most ardent dubfectionists will be content.
Switching between the various subtitle options can however be a pain, as most DVD players require that the viewer pick 1 subtitle track of those available. Resulting in the user being forced to return to the menu any time (s)he wants to change the subtitle options. This is in no way the fault of TRSI, it is merely a limitation of most DVD players, who's designers assumed you would only want 1 set of subtitles appearing at a given time.
With such a complicated DVD, perhaps the most complicated DVD ever made, TRSI could easily be excused if they hadn't included any extras. On top of that Gainax is a notoriously hard company to get extras out of. Despite this, His and Her Circumstances volume 1 includes a storyboard video, translators' notes, director's notes and character bios with accompanying animation. A word of warning, like the show the extras are very text heavy, so be prepared to invest the time reading them. In addition to what is available in the “extras” menu, there is also a very intelligent use of the alternate angles feature of DVDs. When viewing the show in Japanese, the opening text and closing credits are in their original Japanese text, and the “next episode” commercials feature a video of Japanese voice actresses talking about the next episode. When the show is viewed in English, the opening and closing feature English text, and the “next episodes” feature the English voice actresses.
TRSI has done a great job overall with the release of His and Her Circumstances volume 1. Any fan of shoujo or romantic comedy should definitely check this DVD out.
+ Great Story, funny, leaves you wanting more.
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