Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou
Also Known As: KKnJ, Kare Kano
Genre: Romance/Comedy
Format: 26 Episodes
Allegiance: Gainax
Director: Anno Hideaki
Vintage: 1998-1999
Intelligence Agency Report by: Djudge
Miyazawa Yukino thought she had it all coming into high school: beauty, brains, and enough charisma to fool her classmates into thinking that she was absolutely without fault. In fact, she would’ve succeeded had she not met her match in another freshman: Arima Souichirou. He alone saw through her guile and found out the truth behind the shallow masks she wore at school. Yet as the competition between ratchets up in class, could love be blooming between these heated rivals?

Field Agent Report by: Djudge
Plot
Characters
Impact
Visual
Audio
7.50
9.00
7.50
8.75
9.25
Overall 8.75
(not an average)

In a somewhat radical departure from his previous work, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Anno Hideaki once again performs admirably from the director’s chair in the anime adaptation of Tsuda Masami’s manga hit of the same title. Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou, or Kare Kano as it is more commonly known, stands head and shoulders above a plethora of titles under the same genre. Its seamless mix of comedic and dramatic elements coupled with effective and entertaining visuals make for a must-see for all anime fans. Yet despite all of the accolades that this title garners for itself, it must be noted that there are also a couple of serious faults that prevent Kare Kano from becoming the timeless classic it had the potential of becoming.

Visually, Kare Kano is nothing technically amazing. The cel animation techniques used all throughout the series occasionally exhibit a slightly bland palette of colors that failed to catch my attention. However, other aspects of the animation more than make up for this slight shortfall. Intermittent usage of pencil sketch style stills help accentuate emotions and add certain flair in key scenes. Character design and animation direction provided by Hiramatsu Tadashi work to great effect, especially in comedic sequences and provides hints of future work, most notably in another GAINAX great, FLCL. In this case, the strong aspects for the audio work done for the series does not stem directly from the use of music. While the background pieces do excel in augmenting the onscreen activity, it is probably prudent to give even more credit to the great seiyuu work recorded for this title. Performances given for much of the main cast were particularly memorable and demonstrate yet another plus for Anno’s skills at the project’s helm.

As admirable as his decisions were for Kare Kano’s technical production elements, it seems that Anno stumbles a bit when it came to plot flow and execution. Many of the episodes contained recap elements (some were nothing but recap) that eventually became quite tedious to sit through. Compounding these erratic traits is the placement of one of the most disappointing cut-off points in an anime that one can conceivably experience. The conclusion of the series leaves of in one of the title’s more engaging arcs and the rest of the story is left for the viewer to follow up by reading the ongoing manga. This was a bittersweet choice on Anno’s part that only slightly recovers with the use of poetic onscreen text that was possibly tailored to pique interest in either the manga or future Kare Kano work that never materialized.

Overall, Kare Kano is a solid piece of work that only finds serious fault in its disappointing conclusion. The journey to the final arc of the series by far ranks near the top of both Anno’s directorial and Studio GAINAX’s overall accomplishments. An unfortunate rift between Anno and Tsuda’s vision for the interpretation of Kare Kano’s plot resulted in the death of any future work that GAINAX could have pursued in the title franchise. Despite this, the completed work as it stands today should serve at least as a great springboard for those willing to continue the plot via the ongoing manga.