Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou (Kare Kano)

Aired: Oct 2, 1998 to Mar 26, 1999

Based off the original work of Masami Tsuda

Studio: Gainax and J.C Staff

Genre: Shoujo, Romance

"The greatest 7/10 anime ever"

OP: Tenshi no Yubikiri by Fukuda Mai

Synopsis

Meet Yukino Miyazawa; the epitome of a perfect girl, an overachiever, perfect grades, great at sports, elegant, and good looks; Everyone adores her. However behind this facade is an incredibly vain, and obsessive girl, she keeps her high upstanding image purely to be the target of attention and praise, initially this is everything to her life. Then comes the new student, Soichiru Arima, who is seemingly as, or even more perfect than herself. All of a sudden Yukino has a one sided rivalry, but as time flies, she learns that Arima might actually be alright, and it's something deep within her high class persona that may be the problem...

In 1995, relative fledgling mangaka Masami tsuda created what would become her first long running manga: Kare Kano, published in the Shojo magazine LaLa It would become a solid hit, enough so to where 3 years later in 1998, anime studio GAINAX and J.C Staff decideded to randomly give it an anime adaptation directed by Hideaki Anno; assumingly high off the drug that was Evangelion success and money, decided to give this a shot.

The premise for Kare Kano is the pretty standard, tried and true girl meets boy type romance story, and yes it remains exactly that, BUT, what makes this series great are the characters.

The Main 2

The story is played mainly through the POV of Yukino Miyazawa, and as stated earlier, is the perfect, overachiever type, but that overtime washes away throughout the course of the series, still, shes a funny, even wacky character. A colorful and over the top girl for shojo standards, everytime she just goes head over heels in her imagination, and her line deliveries in the English dub really accentuate the fact.

Yukino Miyazawa, Revealed.

Arima and Miyazawa, what a cute couple.

Then theres the other main character, Soichiro Arima, the top student that puts a wench into Miyazawa's quest for attention. He accidentally discovers that her personality is a farce, tries to blackmail her which was really just a ploy to hang out with her, eventually their weird conflict is resolved end up becoming eachothers first genuine friend, and later, lovers. A foil to Miyazawas overly pompous and large ego, he's alot more calm and reserved, even could be considered "stiff." Still a solid character in my eyes being the other MC.

Miyazawa and Arima are great, not cliche, a bit naive, but their both characters that are honest with themselves which is refreshing for this genre. They understand their flaws and how that makes them similiar too eachother given their goals of being a top student. While Miyazawa does it for her ego, Arima does it due to his quickly revealed childhood trauma, making him seem like he's never good enough. The development of these 2 feel real, and earned.

I do want to note that, while Yukino's journey is a light hearted and more coming of age, Arima is alot more of a tragic figure. Not gonna get into spoilers, but alot of his struggles and flashbacks to his childhood admittedly made me wince a bit.

I really did enjoy the 2 of them being the "faking it til they make it" types, it makes the course of the show being more and more true to themselves while forgoing their initial personas very good.

Given the type of people they are, their romance is initially about as awkward and seemingly dreary as high school romances are, the kind where they forget their dating kind of stuff. I think again though, as they develop more as actual people, their romance is relatively fun and bubbly even throughout their conflicts.

I said enough about these 2, but the supporting cast also bring alot to the table, they have their own aspirations, history, and conflicts.

The rest of the Cast






From left to right

Rika Sena, Aya Sawada, Tsubaki Sakura, Tsubasa Shibahime, Maho Izawa,

Soichiro Arima, Yukino Miyazawa, Hideaki Asaba, PeroPero, Tsukino Miyazawa,

Kano Miyazawa, Hiroyuki Miyazawa, Miyako Miyazawa.

I think my biggest praise with the rest of the cast is that they bring out the humor in the show, and also make it so we don't get sick of just MMiyazawa and Arima as good of characters they are. Of course they aren't all just for comedic relief, but everytime their on screen it's always a good time.

Miyazawa's family are surprisingly funny and laid-back, her younger sisters, Tsukino and Kano, mess with their older sister with their comments on her personality, her life and their strange wisdom, while their parents are pretty lax, and can be described as "your friends parents who are alot more chill than your own parents."

The Miyazawa household in action

Miyazawa and Arimas schoolmates are also fun characters, I enjoyed that, besides Maho, the rest of the 4 girl classmates were already friends beforehand in their childhood, so Yukino (and Maho) are integrating into their preestablished group which was a pretty small but I think strong element.

Just your average high school friends outing

"Gremlin mode, as the kids may call it."

Being that she was under the guise of a high class girl, Miyazawa never really had any other genuine friends aside from the iniitial confession from Arima, but I think the other girls provide a good amount of support for Yukino and themselves. Specifically Sakura and Shibahime who have their own character arcs (which I won't spoil.)

Yukino is my favorite of the cast, just given her silly demeanor and character growth, she's very fun. Special mention to Tsubasa Shibahime for the animators almost never keeping her on model for more than like a second in the latter half of the series.

Given that this is a shoujo anime the characters are arguably make or break, and fortunately this cast is fun and well-rounded. Never a dull moment with them around. It makes it so that theres a good balance between gloomy, sad stuff with the humourous slice of life moments.



Pacing

Another thing I can praise Kare Kano for is that it isn't a slog, thing develop and sink in at a good pace. Already within the first 4 episodes you get to understand the 2 leads and why they are the way they are and why they get together, and throughout the course of the show grow in a way thats satisfying to the viewer. It's the same feeling when the other characters are given their spotlight.

It's a nice change of pace (heh) compared to oter shoujo anime i've watched in the past which move like slugs in molasses.

The animation

Pictured, "Teeth Girl"

Pictured, "Maho in Astonishment"

For an anime like this I'm surprised to say the animation is also one of the bigger parts in what makes Kare Kano enjoyable... But this is also the area where I can finally talk about some of the complaints I have with it.

The normal artstyle, is fine and pleasant, if somewhat generic, however given that it's GAINAX, this anime was like a playground for experimentation.

Characters often go off model, characters are given funny faces and wacky expressions, and occassionally they animate like the entire anime staff was locked up and couldn't go home until they could make sakuga that would blow the mind of people watching a crappy quality vhs fansub.

Seriously, though it sounds odd, this is a very screencappable/clippable anime, arguably within the bubble of just the anime, the art/animation best part of it.

Miyazawa pissed as hell

Many times during my watch I was thinking "Oh their just flexing at this point, damn" It was wonderful.

This anime can be a treat to the eyes, however, sometimes the aforementioned "experimentation" can also be intrepreted as "lazy."

Ocassionally, the show uses edited real life photos and even the original manga panels as part of backgrounds/in place of animation. You intrepret it as a sort of artsy, even avante-garde style to tell story. It is still a good look, However it becomes more apparent that as the series goes on, they use this method due to their soon lacking budget for the show.

At the same time though, it does make for some innovative, if strange moments of the show, hell (Spoilers for Episode 19)The Entire episode doesn't even use cels, and make use of paper art, cardboard cutouts, and real life footage. Presumably to massively cut costs, however in spite of this, the animation is somehow still great in this episode and made good use of the forced limitation.

Though while later in the series they tend to use more stills and such in place of animation, what was there from the earlier episodes is still really good.

The Nosedive

"In shock."

I sang about mostly praises in regards to Kare Kano, why did I (half jokingly) say it was a 7/10 anime?

Unfortunately, Kare Kano Really fumbled the ending and last few episodes, it was this and the aforementioned budget problems that really killed what is a great show to, a just solid one.

The following is less of part of the review, more of a brief history on how Kare Kano unfortunately came to be at the end of it all.

The anime is technically complete and given a proper send off, there was presumably meant to be more. Due to conflicts with Director Hideaki Anno and Original Creator Masami Tsuda, that unfortunately never came to fruition.

Kare Kano was supposed to be romantic comedy and we wanted to emphasize the comedy and not the romance. The author wanted to emphasize them both and that is where the conflict came to be. We would like to continue to work on it but we have upset the author, so it is very unlikely that there will be a continuation of the series. I am very sorry. -Hiroyuki Yamaga, Then President of GAINAX.

That, and the restrictions TV Tokyo put for televised anime because of the Pokemon Seizure Incident of all things frustrated Anno.

There is more to the story in terms of production, but that would leave the scope of the review, If you'd like to learn more about what happened, I highly reccomend watching This section of a video by STEVEM that goes through Kare Kanos production in great detail

Back to me, the aforemention section meant that while the anime did get a send off, it felt incredibly abrupt and such a tease, a "That's It?" moment came from me when the credits started rolling. (Spoilers for episodes 24 and 25, the 2 episodes before the final.) episode 24 being a half original/recap and episode 25 being a side story of Kano wondering if shes a lesbian or not (It was admittedly a fun episode still) underwhelmed me alot.

It's so odd, GAINAX understandably knew that they couldn't continue the series so they did attempt to give the viewers something to be mildly satisfied with, but personally still fell very flat to me.

(Ramble that Spoils the ending, maybe come back after you've watched.)I think if they just had a few more episode they could've ended it off with the play Aya was writing for the school, they were hyping it up for alot of the later episodes and I think it would've been very fun. Oh well, guess I'll have to eventually read the manga for that.

Apologies for being admittedly a bit nagging in this section, but that's only cause I truly enjoyed it and I still consider it one of the greats in it's genre. I just wish there was just more of it.

Misceallanous

Other random stuff I couldn't fit above, or other stuff I just wanna talk about.

The manga:...Not that I've read it yet or anything, but the Kare Kano manga, unlike the anime, is actually complete. You could continue the manga from where the anime leaves off.

The Soundtrack: Really good soundtrack, full of cheery, moody, and memorable themes, my favorites play in the music tab on the bottom right.

English Dub: mentioned very briefly earlier, but I really enjoyed the dub for this, everyone does a great job with their performance, specifically Veronica Taylor (of Ash Ketchum fame) who killed it with Yukino's voice and deliveries, gave her so much life.

THE DOG: God I love peropero, what a silly looking dog, so wonderful, he brightens up every scene he's in the background of.

Totoro is in this for some reason: in possibly what is the biggest and unneccesary flex in this anime, they randomly just put a Totoro cameo in one of the episodes, this wasn't even a bit in the manga, they also got the original animation director from Totoro just the create that small, 5 second bit. Insane.

The EDs: very uniquely, all of Kare Kano's credits are real life footage of places, whether it be a high school, a road, or just filming a cat. Very fun, they also straight up burn animation cels for one of them.

Tsukino and Kano:I just really liked these 2, funny characters, I'm happy that they got an episode to themselves (despite being filler.) Kano's english voice I wanna give a special mention, i can't quite put my finger on it, but her voice is just, really fun.

Maho Izawa: I didn't really talk about this character much for spoilers sakes, but she has a moment that could be seen as problematic(?) (Spoilers)When Yukino comes to her place to do homework and get into a conversation about relationships, she mentions that she has a boyfriend, a 23 year old dentist, this didn't ruin anything for me, but obviously pretty weird given shes a high-schooler.

Rika Sena:I like all the characters in this show, and I do like Rika... But she doesn't do much within the anime unfortunately besides being the foil to Aya, I'm told she has more significance in the later chapters of the manga.

YOU. HAVE. UNO:Theres like, a 4 minute scene of the Miyazawa family (and Maho) playing fucking UNO for some reason, somehow It also has significance. It's great

Poster: Nothing to do with the show at all, but I also own this poster of Yukino and her sisters, hung up my wall, I quite like it.

Conclusion and Verdict

If you enjoy...

If you don't enjoy...

• Others in the shoujo genre

• Very fun and well written characters

• Good romance

• Sometimes Great animation

• Funny Faces

• A very jarring drop in budget

• Later episodes being not being up to the quality with the initial half of the series.

• A lackluster finale.

•Watching a series that never got completed.

Then go for it!

...Then I'd still give it a more cautious reccomendation.

"I quite enjoyed Kare Kano, and in spite of the drop in quality in the latter half of the show, I'd still think it's a great watch and worth your time. In the sea of all the other GAINAX titles, I think this one deserves to have some eyes on it once more." - V

Thank you for reading, first review i put alot of brainpower than I usually do lol. If this review inclines you to watch this series for yourself I'd love to hear your opinions aswell, or if you wanna send me hate mail about my review that works too.

Until next time...

ED: Yume no Naka e sang by Enomoto Atsuko and Suzuki Chihiro