Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou: Imperfect Love

Let’s see how many specific details of this series I can remember. I’ve only been watching it off and on for about 9 months now. That should tell you just how slow I really am. I’ve been trying to clear out my backlog recently, hence the sometimes strange posts that seem to come from nowhere and have absolutely nothing to do with the season at hand at all.

Kare Kano is an absolutely darling series I have waited my entire anime watching career to see, and I finally managed to get around to finishing it today. The thing that always impressed me throughout the series, as intermittently as I watched it, was the sort-of-but-not-quite comfort food feeling of the series. It’s very good at capturing the essence of an individual’s personal torment, demonstrating how this torment affects who they are, and then resolving it. The entire series is relationship-based (as one would expect with a title that has the words “Kareshi” and “Kanojo” in them) and the dynamics of relationships are honestly shown here. Little, almost meaningless things to one character cause great anguish for another, whether it be their presence or their lack of presence. The early episodes, in particular, I loved for their portrayal of developing love. Similar to Saku-chan and Aki from Socrates in Love, Arima and Tukino meet each other, hate each other, discover each other’s secrets, laugh about it, and then fall in love. There’s the whole spiel given each recap (and, given the fact that this is Kare Kano, there are a lot of recaps) of progressing from enemies to “less than lovers and more than friends” to a full-blown romantic relationship.

This all takes place in the first six or seven episodes; the rest of the series is devoted to maintenance. Neither Arima nor Yukino are especially high-maintenance lovers, but that doesn’t mean that their relationship isn’t without strife, heartbreak, and repair. Whenever Yukino feels down about her new, less vain self, Arima notices and somehow manages to always dispel her fears, even if she never confesses them to him. It’s that level of intimacy that makes them a good couple–neither is really sure about themselves, yet they always manage to somehow help each other out of their own despair and self-questioning. It’s the ideal high school relationship, which is exactly what it set out for and got.

Anno, when he’s actually doing the direction, is at top form in Kare Kano, with strange animation tricks (albeit not as strange as Shinbo’s, but pretty strange for cel animation) and a heavy dose of humor. He didn’t direct the whole thing, of course–funding ran short, the manga-ka got angry, and Anno quit in frustration, leaving a random staffer to pick up the scraps. They did an admirable job with the last eight or nine episodes, all things considered–it’s very obviously low-budget, and they didn’t quite cover that up with clever direction as in Hidamari Sketch, but they passed. Except for the colored pencil episode. That one was…yeah.

None of this is news to anyone, I’m sure, because I’m always slow on the uptake at times,  but I really liked Kare Kano, all things considered. It’s a very honest series that isn’t afraid to show the inner pain of characters who superficially are having fun and enjoying themselves.  It’s about the power of love to heal old wounds, and discover exciting new selves. And also Tsubasa eating a lot of candy, and generally being a brat.

1 Response to “Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou: Imperfect Love”

  1. 1 issa-sa 9 March 2008 at 3:10 am

    ARGH the colour pencil episode!! lol Okay maybe it wasn’t that bad… Though honestly I was rather disappointed by the low budget ‘effort’ that were the later episodes which nearly canceled out the strength of the first half. Considered as a whole, Kare Kano was a fun ride, and is still a favourite of mine (well the parts that I enjoyed anyways :P)

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I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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March 2008

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