a.k.a. Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou
a.k.a. Kare Kano
Miyazawa Yukino is used to being the center of attention. For years she has played the role of the model student: humble, and scholastically and athletically superior to others. Though idolized by her peers, she is nevertheless left without any friends because of the facade she plays out on a daily basis. Only her family knows that she is a self-serving, ambitious workaholic who thrives off of the adoration from others. Her plan was turning for the best, that is until a young man named Arima Souichirou proves to be her equal as a student… and thus becomes her rival. Being the vindictive person that helped her make it to the top, she sets on a path of destruction with Arima being her chosen target.
summary by Kain
Highs: Perhaps the smartest anime out there; dialogue-driven; juggles comedy and drama admirably; seiyuu perfection; glorious soundtrack
Lows: Intruding summary episodes; artificial ending
Unlike a Gainax anime, there are no mecha battles nor any overt biblical references. Like a Gainax anime, there exists only a provocative psychological and sociological study in its purest form… from a male and female perspective. Who better to undertake such a daunting task of forming a coherent product out of seemingly random brain candy than the master of obtuse anime himself, Hideaki Anno, the man behind Neon Genesis Evangelion, and a card-carrying member of the original Honneamise bratpack?
She says: I love the extremely stimulating, intelligent dialogue and monologue! Anno-san doesn’t resort to the usual plot tactic of “convenient idiocy” to move things along; everyone in this anime is smart and very self-aware. Splashes of beautiful manga-style pencil sketches (showing hints of FLCL) are simple yet elegant; a picture does say a thousand words! All this and I caught myself humming to the catchy music for hours after the show was over.
He says: Sometimes all that deep, psychological introspection needs a good counterbalance, and we have that with timely, hilarious comedy! That’s the good thing about His and Her Circumstances; it’s an exercise in extremes. Super deformity are the buzzwords for the day and is used generously throughout to convey emotion. Backtracking to the subject of dialogue: what are words on paper without a talented voice crew to pull it off? Congratulations to Enomoto Atsuko for a brilliant job portraying Miyazawa Yukino and the spunky Shintani Mayumi (Haruko from FLCL) as the lovably demented Shibahime Tsubasa.
They say: The second half of this series is plagued by one too many summary episodes and an ending that was a tad forced because the anime had finally caught up with the manga.
His and Her Circumstances is about people dealing with others and themselves. It’s truly one of a kind and is not to be missed!
Highs: Gripping plot and mood; loveable characters; artful use of tight budget
Lows: Too many re-caps; unfinished
There are way too many “top ten anime” lists on the Internet, and their composition is heavily influenced by what anime are en vogue at the moment. All too often, heavily hyped series make the top for a few weeks, only to fade back into oblivion when the Next Big Thing comes up. I’m not a big fan of top ten lists for that reason; however, His and Her Circumstances belongs on the top spot of the “best shoujo romance anime” list.
Some have argued that Tsuda Masami’s wonderfully lively and energetic manga translates into anime form almost by itself; however, it’s the special touch that Gainax added to the production that make this series so adorable. Not only is the plot a beautifully composed mixture of sincere romance, real-life complications and genuinely funny humor, the directing also does its best to give each and every scene the mood needed to work. In the course of a single episode, you can experience joy, hate, sadness, anger, love and melancholy, and the transition won’t feel forced at all. It’s the lovable and original cast of characters (and their wonderful seiyuu), like the ambitious Miyazawa Yukino, that carry the mood. But it would all be for naught without the director’s touch. Of course, you can’t talk about a Gainax anime without mentioning how they managed to go overbudget yet again… only that this time, they managed to turn this to their advantage. Many of the later episodes feature long stills, half-finished pencil drawings and even stick figure animation, but the directing makes everything look as though it were intended in an artistic way. Gainax has done the impossible and turned a flaw into an asset here, at least most of the time.
Unfortunately, the artistry couldn’t cover up all of the budget cuts, it seems, as sometimes large parts of the episodes consists of re-caps. It’s not as bad as what Studio Bones did with Wolf’s Rain, but one-and-a-half episodes in the middle of the series are nothing but “the story so far.” After that, an annoyingly high amount time is wasted during the later episodes to sum up the plot over and over again. My finger was dangerously close to the fast-forward button not once but a few times, and this is not a good sign. Still, His and Her Circumstances is utterly and thoughly enjoyable, and there would be no real arguments against recommending it wholeheartedly to everybody… if it weren’t unfinished. The fact that everything ends without any conclusion to any of the several sub plots, and even worse, right after starting a new one, immensely hurts the otherwise splendid impression this anime will make on new viewers. There won’t be a second season, as Tsuda Masami apparently wasn’t pleased with the work Gainax did.
His and Her Circumstances has everything a great romantic drama needs, and the additional quirky humor makes every single minute of it enjoyable and memorable. It’s hardly a flawless series with its budget problems and missing conclusion, but strangely, they don’t distract from the overall enjoyment at all. As a friend of mine put it when he first introduced me to this anime: His and Her Circumstances is the best obviously flawed anime you’re ever going to see.
Highs: Possibly the wittiest anime you’ll ever find; memorable characters; real romance; music.
Lows: Everything will be reiterated at least once; lazy animation at times; ending?
Finding a genuinely good romantic comedy is difficult to say the least, which is why watching His and Her Circumstances was so very refreshing. What separates this anime from all the other generic romantic comedies is its ability to break from cliché. No character is stock or black and white, instead, it focuses on intelligent introspection into how they think and justify their actions. You’ll be able to feel for them as at one point in your life you yourself would have been just as in love, jealous, frustrated, angry etc, as all of these characters are. By the end of the show you will no doubt have one character you either know in real life or empathize with. Yukino herself is one of anime’s best protagonists. She’s very sincere when she’s not being dishonest and conniving, and that’s what makes her genuinely sympathetic and yet oh so much fun.
This anime also has one of the best senses of humor I’ve ever come across. Because these characters are so rich in depth, the chemistry between them is marvelous and it’s not afraid to instantly explode into super-deformity, increasing the comedy ten-fold. One particular scene where Tsubasa, one of Yukino’s classmates, brought on the maximum wrath of Yukino’s anger had me laughing so hard I damn near cried. This anime is a lesson in extremes. It will grab you by the collar and effortlessly move you from pulse-intensive drama to super-deformed hilarity, all within the blink of an eye. Worth noting as well is the music. Whether it’s an epic concerto or a subdued piano piece, the music is just perfect for each and every scene.
But here’s where this anime really jerks you around. Just when you’re fully enthralled, at the edge of your seat, with your diaphragm in your throat, it’ll slap you with recap episodes and/or lazy, seemingly tentative animation. Every time you are presented with a new plot point, expect it to be reiterated, a lot. With recap episodes and a tendency to start off every other one by reminding you of everything that’s happened up until that point, at least you’re guaranteed to never be left behind. The episodes themselves sometimes utilize manga panel-like animation, even paper cut outs at one point. Instead of coming off as creative it unfortunately trips over the fine line between genius and cheap corner cutting. Pivotal moments in some character’s relationships weren’t done any justice by this (*cough* Tsubaki and Takefumi *cough*) and had me practically begging for it to be animated properly. Easily the most irritating part of this anime is the ending: basically there isn’t one. This really irks because if you compare how far the story in the anime had advanced with the story in the manga, it wasn’t that far away from a satisfactory conclusion. Perhaps if the recaps were omitted, it could have had time to finish the series properly, but alas, Gainax had run out of money. Again.
That aside, His and Her Circumstances is still one of my most highly recommended anime, because you’ll be hard pressed to find one that’s better content-wise. Most of its flaws come from its presentation. So, let these characters entertain you, feel for them, sympathize with them, grow attached to them, just try not to get too frustrated when all is said and done.
His and Her Circumstances can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.