I started off this month with a Gainax show. What better way to end this month then with another one? I’m sure there are a lot ways that it could be better, but this is how I want to end this month. Originally, I had an idea of doing an Anno August kind of thing where I watch a few of his series and movies then Evangelion. Unfortunately, I had a lot of things going on this month, so I couldn’t finish it up like I wanted to, but I got through His and Her Circumstances/Kare Kano and Nadia. Considering that Nadia is a 39-episode series and that this one is 26-episodes, I think that is still pretty good. Maybe I will throw in some Royal Space Force later, because that’s just a movie. Possibly some GunBuster, eventhough I’ve watched it before, as well. Who knows?
With that little business out of the way, I am always surprised by how vast my to be watched list is. Just like Raistlin, I think I am just going to call it an Encyclopedia now. Ever since I’ve heard that Kare Kano is a romance series that I haven’t watched before AND Hideaki Anno was the director of this series, I knew I had to watch this one. Kare Kano seemed like a type of series that Anno wouldn’t be interested in at first. Plus, once again, there seemed to be some interesting history behind the series as well. Now that I think about it, everything involving Hideaki Anno seems to have some air of controversy and “WTF” to it. The guy has an M.O. it seems. While watching this series, I think I understand why he chose to adapt this story. Not only is this story and material pretty good, the material is something that he would lean towards. This anime series that created has some problems, but there is more good than bad in it.
His and Her Circumstances is in part a romance story in which two people meet and then fall in love through usual anime love hijinks. If our protagonists, the red haired female Yukino Miyazawa and the taller, black haired Soichiro Arima, didn’t find each other and go through the usual anime motions of what all usual romantic anime do, this series wouldn’t exist. The first few episodes of Kare Kano are Yukino and Arima meeting each other, being kind to each other as is common when strangers meet, them being somewhat antagonistic with each other, they become best friends, then eventually become boyfriend and girlfriend. The most amazing thing is that Arima and Yukino connecting with each other was a lot more psychological material and an organic feel them most romance shows I’ve watched. The two of them have a façade of being the perfect student at school and something else at home. We see both of their facades break in different ways. Yukino’s school personality breaks completely and Arima’s actual personality appears more as the show goes on. While these opening parts were great, fast, and organic, it’s what happens afterward that drew me into the series even more.
How many series can you count on your fingers that center around what happens after a couple gets together? In my mind, I can only count only three. Those being Ore Monogatari, Clannad After Story, and now Kare Kano/His and Her Circumstances. Maybe Snow White with the Red Heart Counts, but not completely sure on that. Yukino and Arima are the top students at the school and are involved in student council and who knows how many clubs and things at school. The first affect we see is that their grades drop. Something that sounds completely boring and typical at first but provides some powerful and sincere moments as a result. Then there are other tests of their relationship like when they are desperate to see each other during a school festival but can’t because they have so many responsibilities they need to care care of. Yukino and Arima learn to appreciate the smaller moments of each other’s company and they are so good. Full of completely adorable and pure moments. I mean, damn, they had a powerful kiss game going. I felt it. It had so much impact. Also, seeing Yukino an Arima holding each other passionately before splitting apart for almost the entire summer was completely adorable and meaningful. Kind of like a last goodbye thing in a way.
If there is anything that separates the two, it’s their family life. Yukino comes from a happy and normal, oddball family full of its own brand of strangeness and togetherness. When her veil of being a perfect student is gone, Yukino acts weird like someone that comes from that good background acts. She is still intelligent and studious, but also full of life, energy, and want for companionship. Something she accomplished by being open, accepting, and honest with herself and other people. Plus, it turns out she is greedy, though she was reading books on how to be a millionaire. That might have been a clue. Yukino also discovers that there are other things that make people great then grades. It’s good stuff that fills the shows cast with other talented characters.
The more interesting exploration is with Arima, because he comes from a bad parental background, though he is in a stable situation now with people that love him now. Arima’s parents were terrible people that do tons of horrible things and that was the environment that shaped him. Because of his checkered past, the rest of his family doesn’t treat him very well. It’s something that drips into his psyche and slowly takes over his good-natured personality as times on. can see why Hideaki Anno helped in adapting His and Her Circumstances. The rest of the series explores what happens when these two people have indulged in their own worlds for a summer then meet back together to continue being a couple. Nothing is the same and I wish this was explored more. Unfortunately, there is a little road block called a Gainax Ending that gets in the way.
Have you guys ever heard of Gainax ending before? If you haven’t, that’s easy to explain yet not at the same time. A Gainax Ending could either change the entire tone of a series in its final moments to throw off the audience completely, could have a sequel hook when the sequel is never going to happen, the ending changes everything forever, does something completely different that you won’t understand, or just stops. Yup. Studio Gainax just does that for some reason, though I think that the author of His and Her Circumstances and Hideaki Anno had some creative differences which this anime series probably just stopped. I don’t think that we well ever completely understand this situation, but that much is at least obvious at least. Even if JC Staff was apart of this production too, that just makes me even more confused. The ending and its visuals are something that need to be talked about.
When I mean visuals, I mean what visuals? Have you guys ever saw the last two episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion? The show looks a lot like that but more focused around a narrative. Kare Kano has lot of unfinished drawings that are somehow linked together to form something that has the vague outlines of an average anime story. There is almost no animation besides lip flaps occasionally. This is so bad that there were almost never animated episode previews and was a live camera feed to seiyuus instead. Not to mention all the recap episodes that were interspersed through out the show, which makes me question all the production issues that was put into play. I mean, one episode was a literal puppet show with live action backgrounds. Despite this being a joint project between Gainax and JC Staff, there was something wrong with this series and I don’t think we will ever find out what that is. To me, His and Her Circumstances is an anime that relies on its strong voice acting that is backed up with a power point presentation that just adds more emotion to the story telling. Something that worked most of the time.
The other problems I have with this show are that I wish we spent more time with the side characters or at least have the story finished. One character had her own little arc in the middle of the story centered around her dad marrying someone, but then she was sent back to gremlin status where she doesn’t talk. The other characters were just starting to be fleshed out even more, so they could be explored and add more of their own personality to the story, but never got the chance. I mean, there are other romance stories going on than Yukino and Arima that could have added their own element more to the story. I like that other couple because they seemed to click. Having an episode or two centered around the side cast would be great. I guess I need to read the manga for that, but I doubt I ever will.
For a romance story that doesn’t take place in space, this anime has Hideaki Anno’s finger prints all over it. Especially the last episode. Having the Yamato theme play while narration occurs as an introduction to this anime’s world was something nobody but him would do. Then there is the fact that the last episode of Kare Kano was almost completely in grey scale. If you have ever watched GunBuster, you know this is something that he would do. Do I need to mention the trauma that Arima is going through? It’s in his ball park of storytelling here. Kind of obvious.
In the end, Kare Kano is an unfinished master piece of an anime. The strengths of its writing, storytelling, and voice acting more then make up for whatever flaws it has. I just wish that…
(Also, this anime’s dub is really good. At one point I was too distracted by lack of visuals to look at the subtitles, so I watched the dub instead.)