Friday, December 13, 2013

Rewind: Kare Kano

Last week, I was too swamped even to write a "Swamped" post. Those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook already know that. Those of you who don't... well, that's where to look for updates.

This post ended up being part video-hunting adventure, part Rewind. Bear with me.

The last two weeks of the semester were tough, but I'm back and ready to talk about Kare Kano (or His and Her Circumstances, as I first knew it). Unfortunately, I barely remember it, and it's not on Hulu anymore. Funimation has betrayed me. Or, to be more accurate, I didn't realize it was licensed to Funimation until today [EDIT: see Frank's comment below. He knows stuff I don't]. Thus, I went to Hulu, planning to watch part of the first episode to get back into the groove, take a screenshot, and make sure I didn't get it mixed up with more recent shoujo plots. When I got to Hulu, it wasn't there. I looked everywhere, and I couldn't find it. 

So I visited the Anime News Network page, hoping for information about the English company involved. Sure enough, it was Funimation. They often take episodes of shows down for a while, rotate them, switch out dubs for subs, and so on. This time, they and their partner sites took Kare Kano down completely. I couldn't even find a reference to it on their website - no videos available, no DVDs for sale... nada. Now, I realize that this show is from 1998 and demand has gone down. And, of course, my understanding of licensing and such is so limited, I'm not sure I'm qualified to say what I've already said. Maybe some legal contract expired or something. I don't know. All I know is that I'm disappointed.

Let this be a reminder to you: if you want to watch (or re-watch) a Funimation series, don't procrastinate. 

I guess I'll have to make do this week.

Yukino pretends to be elegant in deed
and heart, but...
I have fond memories of Kare Kano. I could easily relate to the main character, Yukino. Like me, she is a perfectionist about school, and used to being at the top. This leads to too much pride and an image that's stressful to keep up. Although, now that I've had a chance to re-watch her first few scenes, I have to say that Yukino is vainer than I've ever admitted to being. She even says she's "the queen of vanity." In fact, just the first few minutes of the first episode are a great illustration of how foolish vanity looks when laid bare.*

Yukino's obsession with staying on top borders on crazy. Actually, if this were real life instead of anime, I might say she's crossed the border. But this is anime, so her self-destructive, work-a-holic habits aren't too out of place. 

The central boy in the story, Arima, complements her wonderfully. He has his own issues, though. Like Yukino, he approaches school with a level of perfectionism that's not necessarily healthy, although for different reasons. His guardians aren't his birth parents, from what I remember, and he feels like he needs to be perfect for them, even though he really doesn't. He and Yukino help each other to gain the perspective they need. He puts up with her quirks, and she eventually sees him as more than a rival. A sweet relationship develops. 

... at home, she lets her guard down.
Her real personality is anything but
I love it when anime features a flawed, relatable character. Yukino looks good to those around her, but on the inside, she's not so pretty. She needs someone like Arima to show her there's a better way to live. There's more to her identity than trying to fit some image of "perfection."

If you've stuck around this blog for a long time, you might already know how important that theme is to me. I don't have an anime man to reorient my perspective, but I'm not an anime girl, so that's okay. Instead, it's taken some humbling experiences, long letters to God, and an influential book to get me to the place I am now. I still catch myself putting too much of my identity and pride in things like grades. So anime with characters like Yukino stick out to me. It's an added bonus when the "Prince Charming" isn't perfect either. So Kare Kano did pretty well. 

I want to say more, but I'm worried I'll confuse the plot with similar, newer anime. I remember that Yukino's thought life led to a lot of laughs. It was similar to that of the heroine in Skip Beat. I also remember that the animation quality went downhill in the last two episodes. The story continued, but there were more stills and similar low-budget stabs at animation. I think that's the only reason I didn't give Kare Kano five stars on Anime-Planet; it still had the #1 place on my list of romance anime for a while. 

P.S.: I did find a place that offered the first full episode completely legally and online! ... but it was only for Australia and New Zealand. "If you're from the U.S., we're guessing this might be the first time you've seen a message like this, sorry," the site said. Well, yup... I think I just got a small taste of what my aniblogging friends from the other side of the world often encounter. Sorry, guys.

*P.P.S.: Finally, once I was almost done with this post, I found something that looked legit! It's an anime network called Gong, and it has channels on YouTube. So that's what I used to get the screenshots here. Once I started watching this episode, I was amazed at how unpolished the animation was. I didn't start noticing that kind of thing until I was at least a year into watching anime, but Kare Kano is showing its age... and its budget, I believe. 


  1. Funimation never had Kare Kano; it has always been held by Nozomi Entertainment, the anime localization division of anime retailer Rightstuf. Funimation Channel did apparently air the series, which isn't quite the same thing as Funimation having the series themselves (they bought the airing rights from Nozomi). As for the show being taken down from Hulu, that's very likely a contract expiration as well.

    Speaking of Rightstuf, though, they have a really cheap complete DVD set here:

    Can't comment on the show itself; it's part of my massive backlog full of shows I really need to watch.

    1. Thank you, Frank, for having the information I never do! And for that link... even I, stingy as I am, can't frown at that price.

  2. I saw the first episode of Kare Kano at a con (Tekko 1/2 in 2008, if I remember correctly) and thought it was utterly brilliant, so I bought the series. I got through the first disc (6 episodes) before losing interest. Unfortunately, it was just too lovey-dovey for me. If there was more of the humor and irony like in episode 1, then I may have enjoyed it. Yukino Miyazawa was a great character, though.

    1. I haven't seen it since my first year or so of anime-watching, so I can't comment too much on the "lovey-dovey part." I was on a bit of a shoujo kick for a while there, consuming anything with humor and romance. I recall that Skip Beat, which I referenced here, had more humor like this. When the main character sheds her submissive fangirl thing and lets out her "inner" personality... Well, I haven't seen that kind of hilarity in more recent anime, that's for sure. Have you ever tried it?


CAREFUL! Read the buttons before you click!

Google decided to put a "sign out" button in the spot that some of us expect a "post comment" button. If you accidentally click "sign out," then you will lose everything you just wrote. I've done that several times right here, on my very own blog. Don't be like me. Pay attention to what you're clicking.

Thank you for reading. And thank you for commenting. Every comment puts a smile on my face. ^_^

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.