Kare Kano episode 07 – Row, Row Fight the Power!

Too epic to be included with another episode, this week’s post will chronicle the showdown with the Hokuei teachers in episode 07, an episode that inspired full on RAGE HAET which gave way to BURNING PASSION and MANLY TEARS OF ADMIRATION. Exam results come back, and Yukino and Arima’s scores have dropped somewhat (though still solidly in the top 15 for each of them.) For a moment Yukino starts to take it out on Arima, but in the end that is but a momentary issue. The larger threat is the meddling, controlling teacher-advisors led by Dark Emperor Kawashima the Cruel. His hair white as a consequence of his love and compassion being sucked from his soul as part of a pact with daemonic forces (he’s really only 35), he utilizes several means to try and break the couple up and return them to being top test scorers as part of a insidious plot to boost his school’s standing and lure in ability users from Gakuen City schools for the purpose of training them to take over the world. While the end was a little too neat and tidy for my tastes, it was such a damn good episode that there was no way I could pare it down enough to fit another episode into the post without 9+ paragraphs and close to 70 images.

Things start off well enough. Yukino takes her two sisters over to Arima’s so they can use his yard to grow sunflowers to feed their club pets. Not sure why they’ve got rice and ramen shirts…

Cat eyes Yukino is always fun.

Apparently they’re going through a brief 1980′s German post-modern phase.

Asapin becomes AWESOME-pin in this episode!

Sparkles and all…

Onii-sama!!!

Going out so often has meant some less time for studying. Arima’s so calm about it all…annoyingly calm by Yukino’s standards.

Her jealous, competitive nature is never far from the surface.

After finding out that Arima has dropped to #3 and Yukino to #13, they’re getting over it when both are called to the disciplinary office. There, Dark Emperor Kawashima the Cruel and his lackeys confront them about they’re lower grades. The horror! Only in the top 15 of their class! Kawashima the Cruel professes to be concerned with their futures, but he also lets it slip that he was hoping on them to make the school look good with their test scores. Quickly the dark lord switches from fairly amicable to the sharp arrogance of one who expects to never be opposed, but Yukino and Arima are having none of it. With boldness and righteous indignation they both protest his suggestion that they break up and not have a relationship until they go to college, even in the face of Kawashima the Cruel’s faceless thralls calling on them to apologize. In a glorious display of determination and solidarity the two back each other up against superior numbers and social standing. Yukino thinks back for a moment on how she’s come from the attention seeker she was to the enemy of the teachers she is now, and draws strength from the power of True Love and Friendship. In the end, Kawashima the Cruel’s forces taste a bitter defeat, unprepared as they were for any sort of resistance. But the war is not over.

Oh so smug at the beginning.

Oh, the truth comes out!

Fuck yeah! RISE ABOVE! WE’RE GONNA RISE ABOVE!

Yes, because if you admitted it they could probably report you for doing so. Slimy fuck!

And now it’s time to turn that plotting on a new enemy!

Yukino’s evolution from elementary school teacher’s pet to high school badass.

Yukino, and Arima, have been changed for the better by meeting each other. Here she remembers exactly how being with Arima made her see things differently. It’s also one of many thin, vertical images used in this episode.

Row, row fight the power Yukino!

Arima also finds his resolve in his memories of Yukino. ARIMA BELIEVES IN THE YUKINO WHO BELIEVES IN HIM!

CHOU LOVE BRRREEEEEAAAKKKKKAAAAA!

The forces of Dark Emperor Kawashima the Cruel broken and routed, Arima and Yukino emerge victorious from the disciplinary room and continue about their day. But when they get home each finds out the Kawashima the Cruel has resorted to the dastardly tactic of contacting their parents and calling them in for a meeting in his fortress of evil. Yukino finds Arima to discuss this turn of events and relate how their parents reacted. Arima seems somewhat nervous, though Yukino’s parents were filled with BURNING PASSION at the prospect of being called in to the meeting. Still, it’s an uncomfortable atmosphere, but the two hug and reaffirm that they’ll get through it together. The happy development of their relationship has been upset by Kawashima the Cruel’s unprovoked attack, but even in the midst of uncertainty they only grow stronger and more determined.

Here we see the elusive Chibi Yukino stalking her prey. But what appears to be a sleeping Arima is in fact a feint designed to lure her into hug range.

Shiro Amada would agree.

A family of badasses.

This hand glows with an awesome power! It tells me to destroy anything that would get in the way of my daughter’s love!

Omae, oretachi dare da to omotte yagaru!?

Use of reaction warheads is authorized.

Yukino’s parents have left her in despair!

But all that’s needed is a cute moment together.

Both houses assemble in the lair of the Evil One for the parents conference that has been called, the young Miyazawas in contrast to the older and more proper looking Arimas. Kawashima the Cruel begins with his same speech to the parents, telling them that letting their children be in a relationship will ruin their lives forever just because they aren’t number one and number two in the ranking anymore. He keeps getting more personally involved in messing with their lives, expecting the parents to just agree with him. First Arima stands up to the foe once more, neither he nor Yukino shying from the righteous fight. He’s calmed by his parents, before Yukino’s dad begins the final assault. Completely schooling Kawashima the Cruel in what it is to be a good parent and teacher, he lays out how he’s never forced Yukino into doing things that she is opposed to for the sake of her future, and that that freedom has resulted in the high achieving (even without heavy studying), good natured daughter he has today. He’d rather that his daughter had her youth to enjoy than be a few spots higher on the grading ranks. The lord of House Arima then delivers the knockout blow to the tyrant, agreeing wholeheartedly in such a modest and understated way. Their son has never asked anything of them while still being such a model student, and they too would prefer that he lived freely. Shaken to his core now that both students and their parents have defied his will, Kawashima the Cruel collapses in on himself and admits defeat. While the ending felt a little too ‘everybody’s happy’ for my tastes, Yukino and Arima do make some peace with their defeated foe by promising to study some more.

The opening of the Battle of Hokuei Conference Room.

Be relentless, Arima, never give your enemy a moment’s pause!

Yeah Kawashima! Is this how adults do things?! You’re so selfish, you only care about yourself! /Kamille Bidan (ugh)

High school was alright, but I don’t know if I’d go that far. Now college, that’s the prime of your life!

House Miyazawa’s attack, and reactions. Combining several of the vertical shots used frequently in this episode.

A great victory for True Love and Friendship. In the short and savage war much hung in the balance, and never before has such a confrontation been ended so deftly and decisively. It ranks along with Sawayakyaa Alliance’s defeat of Kurumi Vichy-tan Ume’s blitzkrieg offensive as one of the great victories in shoujo warfare.

This will be Patrick Colasour once he’s a father.

“A true victory is to make your enemy realize they were wrong to oppose you in the first place; to force them to acknowledge your greatness!” – Gul Dukat, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Adversity has only made them stronger! May they continue to grow and destroy (in a shoujo way) all who would oppose them!

Final Thoughts: - Wow, this episode just knew all the right notes to hit to fill me with BURNING PASSION for the events in it. The intense anger of Kawashima the Cruel even daring to intrude on their lives and tell them they should break up. He may have spouted some lines about being concerned for them, but a sympathetic villain to me he was not. Concern about one’s future is certainly relevant, but he was clearly obsessed with it and in turn would have helped ruin the youth of two deserving people. The way he tried to tell them how to live so forcefully like that definitely connected directly into my “Oh? Well fuck you!” indignation when I see similar things in real life. Advice is one thing, but what Kawashima did is way out of line and is basically coercion.

- On the other side, this episode had more emotional investment and dramatic resolution at the end than some action and mecha shows. Seeing Yukino and Arima stand up straight away was damned impressive and had me cheering and pumping my fist. Then the way that their parents also didn’t show even the slightest hesitation in doing the right thing for their kids was GAR as hell, just in a more subdued fashion. On the surface it was calm, but thinking about all the ways personal and societal expectations were playing out made for a complicated battlefield upon which they operated deftly. No one bowed down to the authority, especially formidable to the students and even more so in Japanese society, of the teachers. The parents didn’t give in to social pressure on how they’re ‘supposed’ to raise their children for success. And both families got along well despite being so different in appearance, class, and personality. Superb.

- Art style emphasized the vertical strips of images both static and moving this time around. There was plenty of the hand drawn sketch still shots as well, but it’s fun to see the creators varying their techniques and experimenting with new ones every few episodes.

- Next post will probably be 08 and 09 together. There just wasn’t enough room to fit 08 into this one without making a massive post. Though at some point I might make another one episode post if the episode warrants or there’s a week where I’m pressed for time.



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16 Comments

  1. Posted June 3, 2010 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    Love the parents. So well developed and delivered in this episode remember it. I need to dig it up sometime and watch it again.

    • Posted June 3, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      Finally a show in a contemporary high school setting where the parents not only are there, but also matter! High school student characters living on their own or with completely irrelevant parents always undermines the believability of the setting for me. In some series it doesn’t matter too much, if it’s a comedy like Baka to Test to Shoukanjyuu for example, but for anything that tries to be serious it doesn’t really work. Toradora gets some props from me for having Ryuuji’s mom be a fairly prominent character (even if everyone else’s parents were MIA.)

  2. Posted June 3, 2010 at 2:09 am | Permalink

    These are excellent moments indeed. Top notch stuff. Asapin in the garden with the kids and pero2, then the grades drop… then the showdown of the parents with the principal… you should’ve dug up lelangir’s post on this on T.H.I.S. Anime Blog LOL

    • Posted June 3, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      I just went and looked up the post. The way that Yukino and Arima don’t try to right the injustice of the situation and challenge how students are defined that Lelangir pointed out was one of the big reasons why the final resolution of the conflict felt too neat and tidy to me. I can understand most people only wanting to get themselves out of the situation, but it felt like an unnecessary concession to make nice by promising to study more. Kawashima is then insufficiently challenged by them and may likely continue on doing the same thing to other students.

      Interesting post, but with no offense to Lelangir I can’t comment about it without saying that while the issues raised were interesting, I really didn’t like the sociology paper feel of it. I’m sure that that’s cool for people who are already sociology or anthropology people or have an idea of the specialized vocabulary he used, but for everyone else it probably made it very difficult if not impossible to read. Even within my own field, I have a special hatred for literature that insists on using at least one 10+ letter word per sentence when more common ones will do, like you get triple word score when writing your paper or something. In science such things may be unavoidable, but in social sciences and the humanities, I do not believe that they are in 90% of cases.

  3. Posted June 3, 2010 at 2:56 am | Permalink

    That was one of my favorite episodes of kare kano… Darn, Is till love it, even if they are decades ago…

    • Posted June 3, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      Definitely my favorite on an overt drama level. And every now and then you need an overtly dramatic episode to bring you up out of the deeper psychological ones.

  4. Posted June 3, 2010 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    This show delivers over and over and over again. Comedy, drama, and romance, to family, academics, and friends/rivals, it doesn’t skirt away from anything. The only bad thing about watching Kare Kano in my early otakudom was that it set my shoujo bar way too high.

    • Posted June 3, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      Ah, I imagine it would be difficult to see other shoujo having watched this first. Along similar lines, I guess it’s kind of a blessing in disguise that my first mecha series was Gundam Wing. With the exception of Gundam 00 and Macross 7, it was all uphill from there!

  5. Exar
    Posted June 3, 2010 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Ah, I remember reading this in the manga. Even then I was fist pumping through the whole chapter, wanting for Yukino and Arima to Win! Yes Yukino’s Parents are GAR and Full of Win! (more on them later)
    Also the style of the hand drawn shots and style it is used in is what I love about the anime and it fits it perfectly. I’d wish more companies would sometimes take some risks when it comes to displaying affection, drama, thoughts, etc etc. There are some shows that are pretty good at it (Ef) But Kare Kano still Takes the cake almost 10 after it came out.

    • Posted June 3, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      Oh, there’s MORE cool moments to come from the parents? Awesome. As for animation, it is good to see the creators trying new things. Even when I’m not as fond of them as some techniques (some of the ways they used combined vertical shots in this episode weren’t my cup of tea) I’m glad to see them experimenting and using something new to better communicate the emotions and moments that just a regular shot cannot.

  6. Keith
    Posted June 3, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    I read “child who likes to plot” as “child who likes to pilot”. Must have been all the mecha references. :D

    • Posted June 4, 2010 at 6:06 am | Permalink

      Miyazawa would make a fine mecha pilot, but I see her more in a strategic or intelligence role given her demonstrated ability to plot and deceive.

      Also nothing brings out the mecha references like…shoujo, oddly enough.

  7. gt
    Posted June 4, 2010 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    we’re almost to my favorite ep. this show brings back memories of why i liked romantic comedies in the first place.

    • Posted June 4, 2010 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      This show just keeps getting better. Every time I love an episode someone comments that a favorite of their’s is right around the corner.

  8. Posted June 4, 2010 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    I always thought it was a bit tough to connect with this episode, just because the situation seemed so weird to me. Teachers being concerned about slipping grades is understandable, but I’ve never heard of one who actively pried his or her way into a student’s personal life and tried to cause a relationship split. If I were a parent in that situation, I’d be pretty pissed lol.

    • Posted June 4, 2010 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      In the US such interference would have the teacher at least reported to the school board, if not a full on lawsuit filed, hehe. What I felt made it so tense to me was the social/cultural setting. Given how deferential Japanese society often is to teachers and others in such positions of authority, it made the characters standing up to Kawashima really impressive. Especially that the parents did so too. They not only were combating authority and the social expectations of deference, but they also were breaking with the adults vs kids authority line as well as with social expectations on how to raise their kids. While they weren’t yelling or being aggressive, just showing a willingness to publicly break from the teacher’s line, and in a way caused him to lose face in front of students, was TTGL-level badass. At least from my experiences in it and studying it, to leave someone so embarrassed and shown up before people of lesser standing is pretty much the going for the throat of Japanese social interaction. You usually find some way to compromise and let them out of it without bluntly disagreeing. But sometimes bitches just need to be told.

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