Here you will find honest, intelligent manga reviews for shojo fans of all ages.

Jun 17, 2009

Kare Kano - Masami Tsuda

Kare Kano ran in the publication LaLa from 1996-2005. It tells the story of two high school academic rivals that form a relationship when they reveal to one another that their "perfect" selves are just facades.

Synopsis: Yukino Miyazawa strives to be the model student for the attention and praise she receives, when she is actually a slob and not as demure as she appears. When she is bested by Soichiro Arima for top class ranking during entrance exams, she becomes obsessed with him and strives to beat him academically come first exams. Arima accidentally discovers Yukino's true personality and decides to black mail her for fun. He threatens to tell all the rest of their classmen about her fake personality unless she does his class work for him while he's at kendo club. When Yukino finally admits that she's fed up with being his slave and doesn't care if he tells the others, Arima confesses that he never planned to tell on her and just wanted an excuse to spend time with her. Thus begins the long, complicated relationship of Yukino and Soichiro.

Review: There are a lot of side stories in Kare Kano, including two other romances, that take the reader in another direction away from the main characters. When the mangaka comes back to the main characters, it's to point out a problem in their relationship, and then she begins more back story on Soichiro Arima. It's important that Soichiro gets developed more, but the plot goes from being a tender and comedic high school romance, to a serious drama about childhood scars. Then there's the sudden jump in time halfway through the story. Without much plot development, the main characters are choosing careers and preparing to graduate. The outcome of Soichiro and Yukino's relationship is somewhat unexpected, and the ending, well...the development with their best friend Asaba just blew it for me. As this was Tsuda's first serialized work, it's not surprising that things were so disjointed.

The art work in Kare Kano is well done with nice layouts, drawings, and toning. Tsuda does a good job aging her characters from the beginning to the end of the story. She also adjusts the backgrounds to fit the mood and tone of the story. As for romance, there's plenty of tender moments as well as implied intimacy. You won't be disappointed.

Romance Rating: Steamy - Yukino and Soichiro do have an intimate relationship, but all nudity is implied and even the intimate moments are symbolized with visual metaphors.

Media Status: Kare Kano is a completed series with 21 volumes available from Tokyopop. The anime known as "His and Her Circumstances" was produced by Gainax and tells the story of Kare Kano up to volume 7, in 26 episodes. It is rumored that the anime was canceled due to a disagreement of the direction the story would take between the writers of the anime and Tsuda.


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