Kare Kano episodes 01 and 02 – As deceiving as a low down…dirty…deceiver

After some intense voting that ending in a draw with 171 votes each, Kare Kano and GTO will both be blogged. Kare Kano won the dice roll and is up first, and what a pair of first episodes. The writing is great, the background music appropriate, and the visuals have an interesting use of motion to them with some hand drawn sketch shots now and then. The basics: Miyazawa Yukino is the queen of her class, the best in everything, always smiling and cute, and willing to help out everyone around her. Except that it’s all an act, just a means to be the best and seize the attention and adoration of those around her. At home she lets her true face show: lazy, selfish, still wearing her gym uniform from middle school, and devious. So deliciously devious. But all her plans are disrupted by Arima Souichiro, the new boy in class who’s stealing her spotlight. He’s smart, good at sports, good looking, and friendly…exactly the role Yukino was intending to play in the class. All the world’s a stage and Yukino is not keen on being shown up or having attention diverted from her. But as we shall see, things take a bit of a different turn during their first week of school.

Yukino holds court over her class, offering help and dispensing patronage like an ancient Roman patronus to his cliens.

And she’s getting rave reviews from all her classmates.

Except that it’s all an act. She does all this simply because she craves attention and won’t rest in her desire to be the object of everyone’s affection.

The Hero of Canton, the man they call Jayne put it well. Had a kind of poetry to it, sir.

The daughter of thirty faces.

Rising like an Eva from it’s launch tube. Being made by Gainax around the same time, this isn’t the only moment where you’ll be having flashbacks to Evangelion.

The one messing up Yukino’s plans and possibly related to the relatives of Tohno Shiki. They never did mention if the Arimas had any children…

I’VE GOT A BURNING HEART!

All hail <strike>Britannia</strike> Yukino!


Rise, rise! Take your sorrow and turn it into anger! Yukino thirsts for the strength of her own self-obsession! Sieg Yukino! Sieg Yukino! Sieg Yukino!

Yukino redoubles her studying. Cue Death Note music.

Similar to Eva, but used more frequently, is the often seen closeups of traffic lights. In this show used to signal how events are about to progress.

I loved how everything was labeled. And you thought Angel Beats was doing something new, didn’t you?

The next day at school Yukino runs into Arima (I’ll use whichever names seem most common and right now he’s being referred by his last name) early before class and can’t stand to discover that he’s actually really nice. It just annoys her more that he’s nice to her and oblivious to her deep hatred and determination to beat him. But all that studying, practicing poses in the mirror, and other deceptions has taken its toll on her and she almost falls asleep with a pen in her mouth. While I doubt it was the life-threatening mistake that she characterized it as, after she freaks out for a moment she snaps back to her primary concern: whether anyone saw her. No one did…except Arima. They end up walking home together when he catches up to her at the end of the day, and he makes some long, but unnoticed, glances at her. The next day test results are in, and Yukino is victorious. She wishes to see Arima fall into the depths of despair and come crawling to her for solace, but again to her irritation finds him gracious in defeat and not really minding that he came in second. And this nonchalant attitude makes her question why and how she became so obsessed with getting attention.  Arima’s arrival has been a series of unpleasant surprises for Yukino and definitely not keikaku doori for her, but yet another comes at the start of the next day. Before homeroom she literally runs into Arima, then when she tries to escape he catches up to her and confesses that he loves her!

While the show isn’t all that inventive in backgrounds or character design, it uses a lot of cool animation sequences like this one, revealing Yukino’s inner thoughts like cards in a binder.

She’s like a high school Cima Garahau.

And she has some of the best rapeface since Accelerator.

Apparently they attend Super Dimensional Fortress Hokuei High School.

Seriously, just look at the resemblance.

That or they had the same architect as the Frontier Fleet’s Mihoshi Academy.

See Kurumi, this is how to use CDs to get closer to your love interest, not by repeatedly pestering them about it. Offer, don’t demand.

The pen is mightier…

The hand drawn sketch shots, usually reserved for when a character is looking at or thinking of another in a romantic way, such as when Arima was walking home with Yukino.

Fangirls: Arima has them.

A rival waiting in the wings, me thinks.

Oh, she’s so much like my beloved Miwako <3

A more serious moment, where Yukino questions the point of it all. The emptiness of it minimally highlighted by the empty background.

That was fast. I hope the show keeps up this pace, there are tons of shows that take forever to even get to the first attempt at confession.

We aren’t shown Yukino’s response, but the show goes back to her at home, laughing about how she turned him down right away, and then maybe regretting a little that she didn’t even consider a relationship. But overall she’s enjoying the moment with her sisters before going right to sleep after they try to make her reconsider and think again about her situation. You can start to see where Gainax got some of the ideas it would use later in this show, like in the living room scene where Yukino’s younger sisters explain the situation and their thoughts in manga form, very similar to the much faster paced manga scenes in FLCL that would come two years later. The next day is a Sunday, and Yukino stays at home to loaf around while everyone else goes to see a movie. Then she hears a knock at the door, assuming it’s her sisters who forgot to take an umbrella. She charges out the front door in her old track suit in a flying kick…to find Arima there with the CD he said he’d lend her. Now her secret home life is out, but for a week afterwards nothing happens at school. She lets herself think for a moment that Arima and his rich family upbringing wouldn’t permit him to gossip, until approaches her and threatens to tell everyone unless she helps him with his myriad school and club officer responsibilities. While she can’t believe that she’s being used like this, she does start to admire him for being so responsible and for treating her to dinner one night.

Oohohohohohoho!

The evolution of Gainax techniques, from this to FLCL.

<strike>Suiyou</strike> nichiyou ohaiyou. Nangatsu nannichi hare…

Yukino’s going for the Rosen Ritter Combat Action Badge with Master Cloth medal.

Jiiiiiiiiii.

Two can play at this game.

I’ll use you up and then throw you away like an old rag!

His kindness and concern for her is making things more complicated than just deception and blackmail.

People start catching on to that final thought Yukino had. Her classmates asking if she’s going out with Arima, her parents and sisters are suspicious too. And she’s stopped wearing her track suit at home too. But when her classmates tell her that when they asked Arima the question he just smiled, she starts to think that he thinks so little of her that he won’t even respond. She ends up staying late again, even though she only had a little bit of Arima’s paperwork to do when he walks in to check on her. Her feelings are showing more, and she’s tired of being tormented by the guy she likes, that she thinks for a moment she might be in love with, and starts walking out announcing that she doesn’t care if he tells everyone her secret. But he chases after her even when she starts running, and then she even jumps from the second story window outside to get away, such are her confused feelings of attraction and embarassment. He follows suit, and eventually they end up crashing into a bunch of athletics supplies and coming to a halt. She starts telling him that she’s truly selfish and petty, but he confesses that he likes her true self and that the blackmail was an excuse to spend more time with her. He also realizes within himself that he’s able to be more of who he really is when he’s with her. From that point on they become close friends and confidants, and the story is set up to progress from there.

Yukino’s parents are pretty typical anime parents: the cheerleading mother and the over protective ‘I love my daughter more than anyone’ father.

Rolled a natural 20 on her jump check.

Another one of the animation sequences that are used effectively in this show.

Yukino is feeling insecure about how Arima feels now that he knows her real self, but his feeling haven’t changed. If anything he only seems to like her more.

Mmm, I do have a thing for selfish, devious girls.

Such a nice couple.

One other visual technique used, a switch to negative at certain introspective moments.

The live action ending sequence on the left definitely seems to prototype or influence for latter 2/3 of the ending sequence to FLCL. While the preview format on the right reminds me of a live action version of how SHAFT did the episode previews in Bakemonogatari, with the two little sister characters goofing around and giving the preview hints.

Final Thoughts: – A great start to the series. The pacing was great, with tons of information thrown at you with the labels and internal dialogue without feeling overwhelming. No need to pause to absorb everything going on at once. I liked how everything was set up so quickly and neatly. The only thing not setup were the details of Arima’s background.

- Yukino is great, I’m definitely a fan. All that deviousness, plotting, and duplicity without even a hint of restraint or remorse. As Crusader said of Ami back when he blogged Toradora, “bad girls are so much more interesting.” She may question the end of why she’s being so ruthless and calculating, but never the means. And I like that. There are far too many female characters, whether in shoujo or moe or other genres, that are just cute and nice and non-threatening. While I like the ones like Sawako or Minori whose traits come from genuine sincerity that is developed on in the story, most are just cutsey and airheaded for no good reason (other than targeting demographics.) Yukino is smart, cunning, and has a believable mix of reasons and doubts involved in acting the way she does. And she’s just more fun.

- I really like the OP and ED songs, though I think the ED sequences thus far are interesting in concept but not all that fun visually after the first 20 seconds or so. The OP has a very cool compilation of all the characters though; I only wish the show had been made more recently to give it better visuals.

- A note: speaking of visuals, for next week I’m going to try to hunt down a more recent copy of the show that I don’t have to resize the images to MAKE THEM LARGER. That was a first, heh. For some reason my copy is at a resolution width of about 320. Already working on that, apologies for the low quality of screencaps.

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40 Comments

  1. Posted May 5, 2010 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    wow, this is so nostalgia. I love this show so much. Even the crazy paper parts or the recaps. Wished the rest of the manga was animated but without the last volume ending.

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted May 6, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      I’ve been told that there are…issues with the ending of the anime. Something about problems with the production staff members and the budget. At what point does it break with the manga? If I can get a hold of it I might try to incorporate the last volume(s) of the manga into the final episodes post.

      • anon
        Posted May 6, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

        Hi,

        i think the TV Series is going till v10 of the Manga. Volume 9 is about the School Festival and that are the last episodes of the anime. I did read the Manga after watching the series, altough at that time the last Volume wasnt translated.
        But in contrary to the anime i dont remeber anymore what happend in v10-v21 of the manga :(

        • ExecutiveOtaku
          Posted May 7, 2010 at 9:22 am | Permalink

          Wow, that’s a lot of material not covered by the show. Thanks for the info, I’ll have to see if I can integrate that much material into a post or not.

          • KayDat
            Posted May 9, 2010 at 8:06 am | Permalink

            I heard (according to wiki…) that there were creative differences between the production and the author. A shame really.
            I first saw KareKano almost a year ago, and it was an instant favourite. I’ve been inspired to rewatch it (Up to ep 6 already). =D

  2. Posted May 6, 2010 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    My wife and I marathoned this while we were still dating~ The “Yukino no Theme I” was her theme during our wedding reception. Definitely worth remembering love for.

    I’ll just leave this here http://ghostlightning.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/wedding-anniv-post-img2.jpg?w=500&h=210

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted May 6, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      Haha, that’s terribly nerdy and really cute.

      Nice image! The middle one reminds me of when three of my friends and I decided to be cheesy tourists at the Forbidden City, they had the same costumes and a throne to sit on.

  3. Posted May 6, 2010 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    Agh, I LOVE Kare Kano’s first episode. The OP, the energy, the intensity, the creativity … and MIYAZAWA. <3 <3 <3 Best female romantic lead ever. I don't know how any red-blooded guy could not be in love with Miyazawa after just a few seconds. What a gal.

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted May 6, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      It was such a great start to the series. Miyazawa Yukino is already one of the best romantic leads ever in my book. If this keeps up Miwako may have some competition as mai waifu, lol.

  4. Posted May 6, 2010 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    Ahh, this brings back memories. Despite its imperfections, Kare Kano will always be one of my favorite romance stories. The chemistry between Yukino and Arima was huge, not to mention how well they flesh out the characters. I’m definitely looking forward to the rest of the series of posts!

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted May 6, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      While I’ve been warned about the way the show falls apart at the end due to studio issues, I’m just too impressed with it right now to worry about it. Wow, what a start, and what fun and interesting characters.

  5. d3v
    Posted May 6, 2010 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    I remember watching this series at the same time where I was myself entering into a romantic endeavor involving a somewhat similar set of circumstances. I couldn’t help but wonder if what was going through my prospective love interests head was the same as what was going through Yukino’s. That said, I happily didn’t use Arima as a guide as my (now ex) girlfriend eventually told me that it probably wouldn’t have worked the same way in real life.

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted May 6, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      Something I always kind of wonder about most anime romance series is, how do they expect people to think that a high school romance can really work out in the long term? This is why we need more shows like Honey and Clover. As cute as the relationships may be, high school isn’t exactly the best time to build lasting relationships since 99% of people don’t really know who they are or what they want yet. (Sorry if I’m crushing any high schoolers’ dreams out there, but it’s the truth.) I certainly didn’t, and I was generally ahead of the curve in maturity among my classmates. There aren’t many relationships that are still together now that started in high school among my former classmates, and to be honest I wouldn’t want to be in one given what I see in the ones that have continued on since I was in high school. Most of them seem rather depressing.

      • d3v
        Posted May 7, 2010 at 1:19 am | Permalink

        Might be something to do with how the high school grind is in IRL Japan combined with the teen demographics idealism that makes the high school romance such a common thing in animé.

        • ExecutiveOtaku
          Posted May 7, 2010 at 9:25 am | Permalink

          The cultural norm in Japan has been for the longest time, and still is even though it’s changing, that all the years before graduating high school are supposed to be for fun, that kids should be left do experience youth. Never mind the contradiction of loading those kids down with entrance exams every time they change schools and then when they’re getting ready to graduate from high school. After high school is/was regarded as an immediate shift to Serious Business. I think it’s been changing a lot as more and more people are going to college and not immediately entering the workforce, but old ideas die hard.

  6. JELEINEN
    Posted May 6, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    keep an eye out, there are some great easter eggs throughout the show. I loved this show back in the day and still have my LDs of it. I really should hunt down the DVDs and watch it again myself.

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted May 7, 2010 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      Daaaammmnn, laser disks?! Or does that stand for something else? I remember seeing one of those once in early middle school, but that’s about it.

      Yukino rising like an Eva seemed like just the beginning of the references, I’m definitely keeping my eyes open.

  7. Posted May 6, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    There are actually quite a few more volumes after the end of the anime, 14 to be exact (anime covers material from the first 7 of 21 volumes). A lot of the problems with the anime ending was, in addition to the typical 90s Gainax budget problems, the mangaka was slow and didn’t want the anime to deviate from the manga storyline, among other creative differences. In fact, it took her 10 years to finally finish the manga in 2005, a good 6 years after the anime aired its first and only season.

    Well then, time for a rewatch.

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted May 7, 2010 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      Sounds like a pretty diverse mix of problems there. And that’s a lot of material and time after the series ended. Depending on how I feel about it when the time comes I might have to make a separate post to cover the remaining manga or something.

  8. Amethyst
    Posted May 7, 2010 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    I love this anime, it made laugh a lot and love also the sound track.

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted May 7, 2010 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      The soundtrack is great, the OP/ED and the background music. I especially liked that singing background in the bgm during the manga scene.

  9. Posted May 7, 2010 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    What a blast from the past. I remember this was big in the shojo loving circles in 2002-03.

    I have a hate love relationship with this anime. It has a strong start and keeps the fast pace, but it goes awry by the end of the series. Lo and behold the Hideaki Anno shojo. It’s fate was not a favorable one. I’d also try the manga. It picks up from where it left off and will be awesome to read if you get into this.

    While your pictures and joke between was funny, I was disappointed with the lack of payoff at the end. I was hoping that you had more to say. Plus, I love Yukino as well. I wonder what your opinion on later episodes will be. *smirk*

    -Viga

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted May 7, 2010 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      “Lo and behold the Hideaki Anno shojo.” Lol.

      I may have more to say as the show goes on, but what I did write at the end is about average for my final thoughts portion of a post. Generally I try to put some of the commentary into the recap text and image captions themselves as well. There’s a lot to like in these first episodes, but I could only elaborate on ‘I’m really impressed’ so much this early in the show without sounding repetitive. Even being forewarned about the ending of the show, I think I’m really going to like it until then.

  10. Posted May 7, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    I voted for you blogging this series so I’m really excited you did so, but I have to admit, that picture of Jayne made my day :) .

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted May 7, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

      Hehe, when I thought about all Yukino’s deceptions, his was the first quote that came to mind. I’m always happy to see such enthusiasm for shows I retroblog, all the comments in favor of this show during the voting post was a big reason why I decided to cover this and GTO instead of one or the other.

  11. senefen
    Posted May 7, 2010 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Yukino is one of the greatest girls in anime IMHO. It’s refreshing to see a show where the lead female acts like a real person rather than Moe Moe.
    She’s got an original personality too.
    She and Arima get together really early in this series too, like ep 2-3, so it’s not a will they or won’t they for 20 episodes. It’s one of the more realistic relationships you see in anime too, as they actually seem like friends and have things in common.
    Really I love this series, mostly for it’s characters. The manga is better (and longer) but the anime is by no means horrid. I’m glad you’re blogging it.

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted May 7, 2010 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

      Very true. Moe can be good for comedies if you don’t need much depth to a character, but for drama not so much. Seeing the sequence at the end of ep 02 where the narration tells us that they became close friends is a much more natural and realistic approach to starting a relationship than in the vast majority of shows. Considering that there’s a lot of manga after the series, I’m going to mull over covering the later chapters in a separate post or posts.

  12. Zelus
    Posted May 7, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    I hadn’t watched the anime until today, but I had read a good portion of the manga a long time back. I stopped reading the manga, not because it degraded, but because of a very scary scene. It might not be as clear right now, but this story is a very deep look into the human psych. Some heavy stuff is about to come, but as far as I can recall from what I read, the manga was great. I am now looking forward to seeing the rest of the anime, and finishing the manga.

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted May 8, 2010 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

      I’m getting hints of the psychological parts of the story, for instance the part where Yukino suddenly starts questioning why she even values attention so much. I keep hearing such great things about the manga, I might have to read all of it at some point.

  13. Marigold Ran
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    The scowling girl in the background is Maho. She becomes important later in the manga. In truth, Yukino isn’t the smartest person there, though she is the most conceited. First place goes to Arima and second place goes to Maho.

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted May 11, 2010 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      Ah, but that conceit may provide the motivation to be more devious! Can’t wait to see how things play out with these three characters.

  14. august
    Posted May 11, 2010 at 12:17 am | Permalink

    Long ago, there was a discussion thread somewhere about anime characters for POTUS, and Yukino was mentioned. I immediately thought of Condi Rice’s claim of having never developed a taste for recreational reading, because her parents placed a stack of Serious Books on her nightstand — a habit she continued into her adult life.

    Somehow, Aaron McGruder’s crack about Rice needing a boyfriend makes sense right now.

    As an aside, Melty Blood established Miyako as the (Tsukihime) Arimas’ daughter. Not that I ever bothered to play as her.

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted May 11, 2010 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      I would vote for Yukino! She’d be a great politician. She’s the face, and then she can add Oberstein to her ticket for the devious behind the scenes stuff.

      Ah, haven’t played Melty Blood, just watched the anime version of Tsukihime. They never mentioned the Arimas much in that.

  15. Posted May 11, 2010 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    A must comment post from me who actually really liked Kare Kano.

    That was really question I would like to find out the answer. How come Yukino fall in love with the idea of being praised? What was her motive — purely self satisfaction? She really is an interesting girl which makes me puzzled on the way she thinks. I also badly admire her attitude that I wish I could be more responsible just like her.

    I really like the instrumental version of the ED by the way. It brings back a lot of memories.

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted May 11, 2010 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      Considering how quickly the show got into Yukino questioning why she values praise so much, I’m expecting some more background on the topic. Attention from people around her has definitely been important for a long time, but I’m curious as to what prompted her to seek validation in that way. Lack of self-confidence/worth maybe?

  16. Vivi Bluefire
    Posted May 11, 2010 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    IT IS AWSOMENESS the epic little girl and everyone is awsome (but it can be gay at times but it AWSOME) AAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWWSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE(AKA AWSOME)

  17. Exar
    Posted May 11, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Such nostalgic feeling. I still have the dvd’s somewhere in my room, and I swear everytime I hear the OP, I just feel like crying. The whole story is just one emotional EPIC WIN. As It was stated above, The anime ends around volume 9 of the manga, right at the start of the School Festival. I seriously wish someone would pick up the series and remake it. Somehow I see SHAFT doing an awesome job.

    As for the episodes, i love the hand drawn shots, as they usually indicate when a character is thinking of their past, their future, or what they are struggling againts. I find it to be a very interesting way to express mood and feeling, even if people think it was used for cheap shots. (given the fact that they didnt have a big budget)

    Trust me, your in for the ride of your life….(so far)
    Also, if your need in need of the manga, i Have all 21 volumes in scans. (and 10 i actually bouhgt)

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted May 12, 2010 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      I’m really looking forward to the series, and the manga. Thanks for the offer with the manga, I’ll let you know if I need to take you up on that :)

  18. Posted May 13, 2010 at 4:43 am | Permalink

    I am soooo glad you decided to blog this!

    I have my own perspective and opinion about it but I really wanna know yours!

    Thanks so much!

    *reading*

  19. Posted May 13, 2010 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    Hahahaha.

    “The daughter of thirty faces”

    Well said!

    I never noticed about the traffic lights. Wow. But now that you mentioned it…Yeah, i remember those scenes pretty well!!! Now I know what it signifies.

    I also love the ending scenes where Yukino’s sisters seiyus summarized and introduced scenes for the episodes. :)

    This was one of the first animes I’ve seen during highschool. It caught my interest because the characters here were so real to me. I can totally relate to some of Yukino’s personality. She fascinated me during this episode. Hahaha.

    And the ending part, where the dubbers of Yukino’s sisters where talking and summarizing what happened in the ep

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