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Kareshi Kanojyo no Jijyo
(His and her Circumstances)
Pretty. Polite. Graceful. Smart, too. These are just a few words you could use to describe Yukino Miyazawa, a first year senior high school girl. She's an honor role student, is good at sports and is very talented with the piano. Pretty average, right?
Think again, my friend. Gainax, the same group of people that brought you Neon Genesis Evangelion, produced this twenty-six episode series. So you would think that this Miyazawa girl would have something that would make her different from everyone else. A giant robot hiding in her yard, or perhaps an alien stalking her? Well, not quite. She does have a secret, though. Yukino is a Queen of Vanity.
So, if there's no giant mecha, wars between Earth and space, or mystic powers, what's Gainax capable of producing? Actually, they're capable of quite a lot, considering that this show will make you laugh, cry and want to go to school all at once. The story follows the life of Yukino, who at school is a model student, where as at home she is the exact opposite. Ever since she was young, Yukino has been obsessed with being praised, forcing her to strive to be the best at everything. Since Yukino has molded herself into some sort of model, she has concealed her inner self from everyone except her family.
When the ceremony accepting Yukino's class into high school approaches, she's all set to be chosen to give the acceptance speech on behalf of the entire class. Her fantasy is soon shattered, though, when a new classmate named Arima Souichiro is chosen instead of her. In the next few weeks, Yukino finds that Arima making her life even more miserable. He's handsome, smart, athletic, rich and stealing her spotlight. So what's a girl to do when the boy she despises tells her he loves her?
Unlike most anime romance series, Kare Kano (the nickname given by the show's fans) doesn't deal with romance triangles or Romeo and Juliet type ordeals, but rather with the idea of growing up, and character development is a major theme throughout the series. We see this later in the series when Yukino opens herself up to the world, and her heart up to Arima. Although Yukino is the main character, the focus sometimes fades off of her and into the life of another character, which does a lot to keep the show interesting. We see Tsubasa, whose father is remarrying against her wishes, Arima whose parents ran away after his birth to escape the responsibility of caring for him, and Kano who thinks she has a lesbian stalker.
Kare Kano is one of the best anime that I've seen for quite some time. One of the elements that makes it so addictive is the fact that it is so realistic. The director, Hideaki Anno actually observed and studied many "regular" Japanese school children before beginning his work on the show, in order to make the characters as real as possible. Of course, the reality of the series doesn't take away from the slapstick comedy, which often includes some things that don't happen in many schools. Examples would include jumping off of buildings, kicking cars across the street and spontaneously exploding from being mistaken for a third grader.
Along with this delightful plot, Kare Kano shows off some of the most impressive animation put into a television series. The character's movement is always fluid and the background is carefully done; yet they both show off a certain kind of simplicity which is absolutely charming.
The music fits in perfectly with the series, and I have purchased all three soundtracks. The background music can often be very silly because of the many comical scenes, yet it has proven to keep me fully entertained. The music for the more serious and romantic scenes such as "Ichigiochie" (Treasure every Meeting) is utterly beautiful. The opening theme, "Tenshi no Yubikiri" (An Angel's Pledge), and the ending theme, "Yume no Naka" (Into the Dream), are particular favorites of mine. I've memorized the lyrics because I've listened to them both more times than the Earth has revolved around the Sun. Did I mention I don't speak Japanese?
The only few complaints I have about this series are the few episodes that are used completely to give a follow-up on what's happened so far in the story. There's also the problem that at times there can be a lot of Japanese writing on screen, which is good because it can add to the comical/dramatic affect. It's also bed because you have to be a fast reader to read both what's on the screen and what the characters are saying.
As of now, Kare Kano has been picked up by Right Stuf Int. and should be released some time in Fall 2001. It has been fansubbed by various groups, but you shouldn't be able to pick it up anywhere right now that Right Stuf has announced that they hold the rights for its American release.
Kare Kano is definitely something you don't see everyday. It's probably not something younger kids would enjoy, and it's probably nothing you would want your youngsters to watch. There's some mild cussing, a thwarted sex scene and a few references to bras and breasts, but that's pretty much it. Overall, I am really looking forward to seeing Kare Kano on American video store shelves. All we can do is wait patiently. It'll be here soon.
Fansubs: SunHeart Anime, Geofront, Fushigi Anime
Animation: Fluid and simple, yet it has a rare flare to it. Great character designs.
Story-Rare, something that you don't come across every day.
Overall-See for yourself in the Fall.
Overall (sub) : A+
Story : A+
Animation : A+
Music : A+
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