Wed, Apr. 20th, 2005, 06:29 pm || Tsuda Masami - Kare Kano, vol. 02-08 (Eng. trans.) (no spoilers)

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(aka His and Her Circumstances or Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou)

No spoilers....

Kare Kano is a fairly typical shoujo manga, except I have a sort of feeling that its very typicalness is exceptional, if that makes any sense at all. There is no incest, no glamorous professions, no past traumas of the truly traumatic sort, no cross-dressing, no strange circumstances and forced meet cutes. It's just about a girl and a guy in school and their relationship and their friends' relationships. I like it a lot.

I think a lot of the drama comes from various people getting to know themselves better and accept themselves, along with the confusion of working out a relationship and also trying to juggle various other aspects of life.

Miyazawa Yukino (I write the names surname first) is a student really used to being praised and getting good grades. She's in fact put up an entire front so that everyone will think that's she's wonderful, when in fact she schemes and plots and works herself into the ground to maintain said image. When she gets into high school (as you know, Bob, high school in Japan starts from 10th grade and the school year starts in April), she finds that an Arima Souichirou has gotten a higher standing than her!

Eventually she and Arima end up going out, and I really like the series because, as stated before, it's about Yukino finding out who she really is beneath that image she's been projecting, about her being real and true to herself and making friends and living in her own skin. She influences Arima the same way -- his past is a bit darker than Yukino's, but she makes him question himself and question the reserved life he's been living. And eventually Yukino's growing friendships with other people has the same influence on them, and each of her friends (I'm guessing) are going to go through a similar transformation when they start dating.

I also like that Tsuda pretty much gets all the relationship set up out of the way by the first two volumes or so, unlike most shoujo manga and romance novels, which are all about the getting together and the excitement of new romance. I like that Yukino and Arima spend time together, that they have to worry about things that normal couples do, like too much homework or not enough time for each other.

The structure and the style isn't as radical as that of the anime (I adore Anno, the director), but it's a good, solid manga, and the characters feel real and likeable.