January 14, 2006

His And Her Circumstances: A Post-Mortem.

Having finished the Gainax series, His And Her Circumstances (hereafter known as KareKano), I feel like I just watched two different shows. The first was the one that I commented on earlier (read that HERE). The second was... something much more disorganzied and sloppy.

The change from one to the other happened around episode 19. The good folks over at T.H.E.M. Anime Reviews bring up the good point that the director, Hideaki Anno (best known for Neon Genesis Evangelion) had left the project around this time. They also propose that the folks at Gainax got bored with doing "a girly anime."

Whatever the reason, KareKano starts well, gets BETTER, then finishes in a flaming mess that left this Duck disappointed. After episode 19, KareKano loses the plot and begins to drift away from our main characters, Yukino and Arima... so much so that after the 'eyecatch' in the middle of the last episode, we don't see them again, instead concentrating on another possible pairing.

...which would be fine, if either of those two characters were likeable. They aren't.

Truthfully, Arima begins to show himself as something of a jerk in the last 10 episodes as well, so much so that you wonder just what the ultimate ending of our lead couple is going to be. By the time the show grinds to a halt, we are left with the impression of a suicide-in-the-making, despite all the good in his life.

...and what in flaming blue hell was up with episode 25? Fer cryin'outloud, we lose Yukino's two sisters (consistently my favorite characters in the show) for 10 shows, then we get a "secondary-character special" that's more confused than a bowl of spaghetti. If it was used earlier in the series, maybe spread out over four or five episodes, it could have been great. Instead, we get a steaming lump of... whatever that was.

I don't mean to suggest that KareKano isn't good: it is! I'm not at all unhappy that I purchased it, nor unhappy that I watched it. I'm just annoyed that a show that started SO strongly... blew a tire and runs into a tree.

I can't give it one rating. I give the first 19 episodes maybe 4.5 stars, the last seven shows maybe a "2" or a "3".

The folks over at T.H.E.M. finish their review asking "Why couldn't they have made more?" I finish my review asking "Why didn't they make LESS?"

Posted by: Wonderduck at 07:57 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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January 01, 2006

His & Her Circumstances...

Once upon a time there was a girl that, to all outward appearances, was perfect. Intelligent, pretty, cultured, she was far and away the most popular girl in her school.

But it was all a facade. She loved, craved, NEEDED the acclaim of her peers, so she worked and WORKED and WORKED at this mask in public, while at home... at home she was a shlub (yes, that's the same person!).

Then HE showed up. Intelligent, handsome, cultured, athletic, he was far and away the most popular boy... in HER school. To make matters worse for her, he scored higher on the entry tests than she did.

HE stole her glory away from her. This was an affront that could not be borne! She MUST beat him immediately! And when the mid-term scores were posted? Success! She scored higher than him!!! Ha-HAH!!! Now to revel in his failure; look, here he comes now!

But he was nice to her and wasn't upset at all that he had lost to her... in fact he didn't even notice that there was a war to the death going on between them!

What?

...in a nutshell, that's the first 7 minutes of the first episode of the anime series His and Her Circumstances, or KareKano as it's more commonly known.

I've gotten through 9 of the 26 episodes so far... but after what you just read above, I was hooked. The main character, Yukino (Her), is a bundle of contradictions; in short, pretty human. The not-quite-main-character, Arima (Him), is a different bundle of puzzles; human in a different way. And while they don't know it after the first 7 minutes, they might be absolutely perfect for each other... if only they can drop the masks they wear (or is he not wearing one at all?)!

KareKano was directed by Hideaki Anno, the same man that led the legendary Neon Genesis Evangelion to it's ultimate successes (and storied 'crash-and-burn' failure to tell a legible story), but it's about as far from that show as it's possible to be. The angst is kept to a bare minimum (they ARE teenagers, after all...), and the trademark Gainax weirdness (and boing!)is turned down to very low levels.

In fact, that's the biggest complaint I've seen leveled at this show in reviews. The quality of the animation is probably the weakest of any of the Gainax shows (Evangelion, FLCL, Mahoromatic, Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, amongst others)... while I don't know this for a fact, I suspect that's because it was their first TV series after the disasterous ending that was Evangelion, and it just wasn't given the budget their other shows have had.

Nevertheless, the animation is perfectly acceptable... indeed, the slow pan shots work well with the storyline. It's a romance, for heaven's sake, there doesn't NEED to be all the quick edits you get in the Mecha shows.

The humor level is high; generally when I'm watching a show alone, I don't laugh out loud. I'll smile, I'll chuckle, but that's about all. This one, though, has made me laugh.

It's a good'un. If I didn't have to work on Monday, I'd probably charge through this disc and the next tonight. Alas, the Duck has (ahem) bills to pay, so...

But, wow... so far, whatta ride!

(UPDATE: 105am)
Forgot to mention this, but one thing that's amused me to no end is the character design for one of Yukino's sisters. It's perfectly normal... and got reused in FLCL. Here's Eri from FLCL, and here's Yukino's sister from KareKano.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 06:53 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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