Title: Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou, aka Kare Kano (His and Her Circumstances)
Author: Masami Tsuda (Story & Art)
Genres: Shoujo, Slice of Life, Romance, Comedy-Drama
Published: 1996 – 2006 (magazine); 2003 – 2007 (manga) [Complete]
Japanese Publisher: LaLa magazine (original run); Hakusensha (tankoubon format)
English Publisher: Tokyopop
Available to Purchase in English?: Yes (Amazon)
Ohhh man, this title sure takes me back. This was probably one of the first series I got super into as a teenager many, many moons ago, enjoying it so much that when I went to Japan in the summer of 2003 as part of an exchange trip through my school district, I bought a few volumes in Japanese despite not knowing enough of the language to actually read them in full. I ended up not buying every single English volume as the series continued on, but I do own the first ten or so, plus a smattering of others from near the end of the series.
The story, or the central part of it, focuses on high school student Yukino Miyazawa. Yukino has the public facade of being a top student, a know-it-all smarty pants and looking like she stepped off the pages of a fashion magazine. However at home, her personality and appearance are the exact opposite of how she portrays herself around others.
Enter Soichiro Arima, another student at Yukino’s school who is also super smart. Soichiro and Yukino are so similar that they are each other’s main rivals in many things, like grades and how well their classmates like them. At the beginning of the series, Soichiro confesses to Yukino that he likes her but she rejects him. Not long afterwards Soichiro surprises Yukino with a visit at her home and sees what she is really like.
Soichiro begins to use this information to blackmail Yukino into doing things for him, like doing his student council work. Eventually Yukino turns on him and says she’s had enough. Soichiro apologizes and says he’d been blackmailing her as an excuse to spend time with her. Yukino realizes that deep down she has feelings for Soichiro too, and they begin to date.
Later on the series explores Soichiro’s troubled family history in more detail, and how it affects his relationship with Yukino. The series also looks at some of their friends and their relationships with each other.
While I must admit that my details of the series are a bit foggy, I do recall that as the series progresses and more characters are introduced into Yukino and Soichiro’s social circle, the focus of the series occasionally centers on some of their friends rather than on Soichiro and Yukino’s relationship. While some fans may have been alright with this, I do remember being put off at getting to see less of Yukino and Soichiro, and it was probably one of the reasons why I stopped buying hard copies of the manga.
With that being said, this story is very much character-driven and for that I love Kare Kano. The series is primarily all about Yukino and Soichiro’s relationship, their relationships with their friends, and their relationships with their family members (mainly Soichiro’s family). The artwork is beautiful and it’s hard to believe that this title was Masami Tsuda’s first lengthy series! I personally think she did an incredible job. ^_^v
There is an anime series produced by Gainax which covers the first few volumes of the manga; however it ended after 26 episodes and so the series has never been fully animated. Most of the anime was directed by Hideaki Anno, who is perhaps best known for creating Neon Genesis Evangelion (also a Gainax title).
For those who enjoy the music in the anime, there have also been four CD soundtracks released. I own a couple of them and while they’re nice, I’d really only recommend them to diehard fans. The anime boxset, on the other hand, is pretty neat and if you can find a copy I suggest getting it, even if just to add it to your collection.
All in all, if you like high school slice of life titles that are full of romance, drama and fantastic characters, then this might be a series worth checking out!
My Score: 9/10
Do I Recommend This Title?: Yes