I’m not the biggest fan of romantic comedies, mostly because a lot of them are pretty cliched and boring. Nevertheless there obviously also are a lot of gems. His and Her Circumstances is Gainax and Hideki Anno’s addition to this genre, and while it may on the outside seem like the umpth variation of the same formula, it rises above most others through its dialogue, deep characters and snappy direction.
I have to grant it to Hideki Anno: as infamous as Gainax has become over the years, HaHC features some of the best direction I have seen in a romantic comedy. It doesn’t feel like a moment is wasted here, the dialogue is elaborate and meaningful and he really managed to bring out the depth of the characters from whatever manga this was based on. It turns this into a very accessible series: it’s very easy to watch and hardly ever gets boring. It may not be consistently funny, but it is consistently entertaining (well, with ONE major exception, but I’ll get to that below).
The dialogue overall flows very naturally, and of course the trademark Gainax Animation is very evident through the series, but you can see that along the way, the budget of this series becomes smaller and smaller. Nevertheless, the creators of this series solve it really well, and in a completely different way from how a limited budget is usually masked (by things like distorted faces and an overabundance of still frames). This series excels in its smart and creative tricks to save budget; the art remains crisp and consistent and the creators never forget to have lots of things going on at the same time. Two episodes in particular stand out in this: one consists out of uncoloured character-sketches, while the other is basically a living storyboard in black and white. They were a lot of fun to watch because even though it definitely looked cheap, there was always something going on in the screen and the characters never ceased to be captivating.
This does get taken too far in one aspect, though: Hideki Anno’s really weird obsession with recaps. Seriously, this show is full of the: nearly every episode starts with a recap of what happened up to that point, sometimes even lasting for three minutes. If this series had a complex story then okay, it might have been excused, but for a romantic comedy? In the middle, there also is a string of two completely useless recap episodes in the middle, and my guess would be that the total amount of time this series has spent on recapping is about the same as Wolf’s Rain’s recap block. And that one was aired for a good reason. And not spread across the entire series.
Nevertheless though, this series is a great example of a romantic comedy that’s deep and entertaining at the same time. Sure, it does have a bit of an inconclusive ending, but it’s nowhere near a bad conclusion. It’s a great example of how to correctly save budget without sacrificing style. And hey, after watching this series I finally know what the favourite anime of Akiyuki Shinbo is. ^^;