Greg: You may dream of anime, like I do, but if you were a manga artist like Tsuda Masami, you might dream of your manga becoming an anime. The newest series in our lineup this year is Kareshi Kanojo no Jijo, or "A Couple's Circumstances", animated by Gainax and Anno Hideaki. Otakon showed the first 4 episodes at their anime convention over the summer and got an outstanding audience reception. As I sat there, I couldn't help but think "and this is only the beginning."
Lillian: There are 26 episodes in the series and there's an amazing amount of information in each episode, what with the non-stop dialogue and the random captions on the screen. They really leave you with a feeling of satisfaction. The introspective monologues are stereotypical of shojo anime [Shojo anime is anime marketed toward girls, as opposed to shonen anime which is marketed toward boys. -Ed.], but the techniques with which the scenes are executed show that this isn't going to settle on being an ordinary love comedy.
Greg: Despite being shojo, the visual quality and feeling are much more like "regular" anime. A lot of effort seems to have been made in creating motion that is entertaining to watch instead of simply being necessary. You also see a lot of techniques that are more often used in movies and not in anime, like the stoplight and faucet imagery seen in the early episodes.
Lillian: One thing is that the anime has been called "a big advertisement for the manga". Almost all of the script is taken straight from the manga, line by line. Also, at the end of the series, it stops with no regard for whatever loose ends it may leave. This is a difficult problem that faces all anime based on a manga: how to change the anime so that the manga readers would find it worth watching and so that it's not just a recreation of what has already been made, but not change it enough to upset the fans, either? But I think that KareKano was successful, in that the details are exaggerated and played up so much that the comedy is enhanced from how it was originally. It's a different experience, and it keeps surprising you.
Greg: And it's not all comedy either. This is really a story about families and friends, about relationships between people, how they develop, and how we're affected by our interactions. You can see the main character, Miyazawa Yukino, change as she meets and grows with the other characters. One of my favorite episodes shows you how the friendships between other characters developed from their childhood until now. I was really surprised at how detailed the families and friends of characters other than Yukino were and how much was shown through them -- rather than all of it coming from the main character.
Lillian: Some of this comes through in the title. The term "kareshi kanojo" implies boyfriend/girlfriend, but the story isn't just about Yukino and the love interest, Souichirou Arima. It encompasses the circumstances of the people they meet.
Greg: On that note, I'd like to call attention to what I found were the most engaging elements of the show: the sidekicks. Yukino has two younger sisters, parents, and a dog. Later on, she acquires several close friends. I found all of them to be the really interesting and fun parts of the anime. The younger sisters seem to have nothing better to do than analyze her problems for her, and these scenes help to round out the story. They're also often doing cute things in the background.
Lillian: One of the best characters (?) is Pero-Pero, the family dog -- but it is more like a pet marshmallow or a wiggling beanbag. You have to see him to believe him.