Now here is a classic! It’s an overdue review but I just really want to share to all anime fans out there what a wonderful anime Kare-Kano is. If you’re into shoujo manga then Kare-Kano is a must-see for everybody–trust me, you’re missing half of your anime life.
The anime runs in 26 episodes and the ending is such a cliffhanger because the anime has caught onto the manga. But despite the hanging ending, fans can seek refuge in the manga which the author, Masami Tsuda, finished off nicely. Here’s a link to the characters and the story for those who have no idea about Kare-Kano.
I just really fell in love with the pairing of Miyazawa Yukino and Arima Soichiro who are the main characters in the story. And for one thing, I can relate to how hard they strive for perfection just to hide their insecurities. The anime is not shoujo manga all lovey-dovey, it also deals with mature themes and situations like child abuse, persecution, parental abandonment, a little bit of homosexuality (but not a lot), rape, and premarital sex. I haven’t seen the manga though but I really think the treatment of the anime was very manga-esque and it works great. It feels slightly old school with a couple of EVA-isms thrown in (the director of the anime being Evangelion’s Hideaki Anno) but a viewer can’t help but be pulled into the great story and restrained dialogue. There is a perfect mix of drama and comedy with bouts of fluff, like when Arima painfully confessed his being adopted and his need be perfect to please his adoptive parents, after words of comfort, Miyazawa punches him in the face sending him toppling over tables to snap him out of his depression.
The “love” scenes (well, there is actually one scene actually worthy of being called that) are remarkably light, not so much close-ups because there are times the kissing scenes are almost softly faded or pencil drawn, again going back tot he manga-like feel of the anime. I did notice a cut version (having seen the subtitled and dubbed version) in episode 18 where Arima and Miyazawa finally “get it on” (*author laughs so hard her spleen almost comes out*), the subtitled version showed the clothes thrown on the floor, the belt unbuckled, Arima on top of Miyazawa (but of course decently covered with a blanket), Arima’s face with his eyes closed as if in concentration and Miyazawa’s blush-stained face. The cut out scenes were actually pretty decent, I really don’t understand why the dubbed version felt the need to take those scenes out.
The character development for Kare-Kano is one of the best. Even though there were antagonists in the beginning like Asaba, Shibahime and Maho, you can’t help but also empathize with them because every motive or cause of action has a reason for its existence. In fact, a lot of viewers also fell in love with these characters, I was really rooting for Shibahime Tsubasa’s character and Masami Tsuda wondefully created a love story for Shibahime too! Miyazawa and Arima have one of the best character developments I’ve seen, from people with “dual personalities” to just ordinary teenagers falling in love and their grades slipping up, to finding their own worlds and their true selves, it was such a emotionally charged ride I nearly screamed when the anime ended on episode 26 with so many loose ends still hanging.
I really love the back stories and character arcs, the only annoying thing is the constant episode summary at every beginning. It was probably their way of extending the anime since the manga has yet to be completed when they started releasing the Kare-Kano anime. Despite a couple of flaws (the anime went over budget so there were some scenes compromised), Hideaki Anno turned the flaws into charms and it added to the overall feel of the anime as your “not so ordinary high school romance”. And it definitely is far from the boy meets girl, falls in love, love triangles sort of anime, in fact, there were no serious love triangles because the conflict was mainly psychological in nature. From the dark side of Arima brought on by his past as an abused child to Miyazawa’s “I’m the Queen of vanity” mode and her “can’t- get-the-words-out- to-say-how-much-I-love-you” phase, to Sakura’s need to be free and Tonami’s quest for vengeance on the one person who never saw him beyond as the fat kid, Kare-Kano is rife with conflicts, complexes and enough questions to keep viewers hooked even until after the anime. That after finding the right person who can change your world, will you be strong enough to fight for that love?
This anime is definitely a must see and the manga is a must-read and must hunt! Michiko will probably be coming out with episode guides and dialogue so stay tuned!