Posted on 29 July 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews



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. ^^;

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 8/10

15 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    This sure brings back memories :D

    Karekano immediately became my favorite romantic comedy, for exactly the reasons you stated. Though I have to say that while Gainex and Anno added their own flair to the story, a lot of it came from the original manga.

    The conclusion, or rather the lack of one, is probably due to them catching up to the source material(at a bad spot too, as the story was at a transition point), as the manga was nowhere near complete at that point. I like how they decided to stick with the story and didn’t go off to create their own ending.

  2. Camario says:

    Actually, the curious thing about the non-ending is that there’s something that could technically count as one, figuratively speaking, just a few episodes back. Don’t really remember the details after all this time, but I’m very sure that was the case.

    The big thing about the series would certainly be characterization, first and foremost, followed by the stylistic quirks and quasi-experimentation.

    Although I agree, they did go a bit too far at times and there’s no way to applaud the excessive amount of recaps, at the very least the majority of the series was definitely very worthwhile. I should probably re-watch it at some point.

  3. senerikfred says:

    The recaps are annoying, but otherwise, Gainax used to be pretty creative in dealing with budget problems. My favorite is the last episode of Gunbuster-the budget saving tricks actually make it feel more epic than it could’ve otherwise, and it features one of the only good examples of partial-nudity in anime.
    The manga actually gets a little too angsty later on, (from what I’ve heard,) but it’d be nice to see if Anno could’ve done anything to smooth that over into a more polished storyline.

    Full agreement with all who declare Kare Kano awesome.

    (Also, failure to resist grammar nazi instincts because I’ve seen you do this before, when you put an adjective after a verb, it becomes an adverb, and must end in -ly. flows natural should be flows naturalLY. Just make sure you never do that to ‘well,’ which is an adverb rather than an adjective to begin with.)

  4. bravejaf says:

    I hate saying it but this anime really did not do the manga justice at all. The manga is truly special, along with Fruits Basket it is one of my favorite romantic comedy manga to date. The ending of the manga was also part of what made this series so special. Along with Clamymore and Berserk this is one of the top manga I want to see completely redone in anime form.

  5. dm says:

    I’m afraid I differ with bravejaf, I think the anime did a fine job of covering the first nine volumes of the manga. Or rather: they did a fine, comedic job of covering those volumes; the manga was a bit more serious (though I don’t think it was the better for it).

    I’ve also excused the non-ending with a citation of the series’ title — “His and her circumstances”. The series can be viewed as being about Arima and Miyazawa’s relationship, or it can be viewed as about the “circumstances” of several different hims and hers (Miyazawa/Arima, Shibahime/step-brother, Miyazawa-mama/Miyazawa-papa, and finally the Miyazawa-jock-friend/returnee from Okinawa. As the series “concludes”, these circumstances will go on.

    Anno and Gainax did a lovely job of bringing the shoujo-manga page to life, and also did some fun things with animation alternatives (the cardboard-cut-out episode remains one of my favorite episodes of anime).

  6. Ialda says:

    Best romantic comedy, best series Gainax ever made, even for all its flaws and short-comings.

    The first 4 episodes especially were a near-perfect set of plot, humor, characterization and good, well-paced realisation. It stays in your memory, even years after.

  7. Longhaul says:

    Severe budget issues and Anno leaving gainax midway through the show were really apparent.

    “(the cardboard-cut-out episode remains one of my favorite episodes of anime)”

    same

  8. steveberry says:

    I actually made a movie out of the first 4 episodes a few years back. Have it as a homemade DVD. It’s a wonderful watch. Easily the best part of the show. Those first 4 eps are perfect– not a wasted moment, and very…. sincere. ?? Good stuff.

  9. Ebod says:

    Personally, I found the manga of Kare Kano to be a bore, so I never checked out the anime, but you seemed to have rated it so high so maybe I’ll give it another chance when I have the time.

  10. blue says:

    This series was amazing up until the ending, just completely ruined it for me =(. Though haven’t got around to the manga yet.

  11. hurin says:

    Other than the endless recaps I had two big problems with that series. One was the non ending, the anime just stops in the middle of the school festival arc, the other was that Arima felt like a Mary Sue character.

    Despite its flaws, it is still my number one romantic series, Toradora comes close as number two.

  12. saku says:

    “he really managed to bring out the depth of the characters from whatever manga this was based on.”

    Sheesh, what an unpleasant thing to say! As everyone commenting here already knows, it comes from the manga of the same name – shortened to KareKano.

  13. zxclobber says:

    Didn’t like how it ended either… is there gonna be continuation to the series? ever? T_T

  14. Shiro, Long Tail's says:

    Sounds interesting, I’ll check it out sometime.

  15. dalojo says:

    An amazingly rich and realistic love story I count among my favorite anime of any genre, which is all the more amazing considering it is basically an incomplete series that was never and will never be completed, and had way too much filler.

    *****************************************

    SPOILER ALERT!!! Do not read on if you have not seen the anime.

    *****************************************

    Also, to date, this is the only rom-com anime I’ve seen where the couple actually makes love. GAINAX’s execution here is just about perfect. So many shows just beat around the bush with sex (NPI), but Anno & Co. handle it with a great amount of dignity and beauty.

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  • K-Off
    (Wednesday, Sep 3. 2014 03:22 AM)
    @Bam That’s some quantum physics shit. That’s still centuries away. Also, dive chambers aren’t practical.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Sep 3. 2014 03:21 AM)
    So never say die ;-)
  • K-Off
    (Wednesday, Sep 3. 2014 03:20 AM)
    @Raggers I welcome the technology, but I just hope that we can deal with the intrusive security implications. We haven’t even dealt with security cameras properly, for fuck’s sake.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Sep 3. 2014 03:20 AM)
    There exists the probability of dive chambers like an MRI dome that can detect the brainwaves and the slightest ionic activity at the nerve level tha can fully transfer our indications and simulate a reality by holographic encoding.
  • K-Off
    (Wednesday, Sep 3. 2014 03:17 AM)
    Also, anyone else struggle with having a good line of communication with your parents? They live in NY and I in Cali, not to mention the generational differences between a man who lived 63 years in Italy versus an All American.
  • Raggers
    (Wednesday, Sep 3. 2014 03:16 AM)
    And I don’t see non-invasive (like SAO) VR being possible within a century. At the very least you’d need to be “plugged in” like in the Matrix.
  • Raggers
    (Wednesday, Sep 3. 2014 03:15 AM)
    @K-Off: considering VR will be “the next big thing” I suspect there’ll be extremely immersive input options within 2 decades.
  • K-Off
    (Wednesday, Sep 3. 2014 03:12 AM)
    @Raggers I agree with the point Vincent brought up about the spinal cord as well. Thanks to our spine, FullDive won’t happen. At least, in my lifetime.
  • K-Off
    (Wednesday, Sep 3. 2014 03:08 AM)
    @Emma I once had this girlfriend who hid the fact that she smokes weed, as if I cared. I told her that I also smoke kush every few days, and I got some good laughs. But I do relate. Whatever I wouldn’t say to my parents, I won’t tell her.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Sep 3. 2014 03:05 AM)
    I think I’ve got a love/hate thing with being scared, every since I was young.

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