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Yukino Miyazawa is a gifted high school student lauded by classmates and teachers. This apparent brilliance, however, is mainly used as a means to garner praise. At home, Yukino is spoiled and slovenly.When a new student, Soichiro Arima, proves himself the equal of Yukino, her narcissistic edifice is threatened with collapse, so she begins to plot Arima's downfall, whilst maintaining an air of friendship with him. A chance encounter leads Arima to discover Yukino's secret and romance begins to blossom... as they both learn to just be themselves.Kare Kano originated as a manga by Shoujo author Masami Tsuda, later being adapted to anime by Studio Gainax, directed by Hideaki Anno, of Evangelion fame. The anime began as a faithful adaptation of the manga, if somewhat quirkier in style. Halfway through the story the anime takes a completely different direction from the manga, which eventually led to its inconclusive ending, while the manga went on for 21 volumes. The manga version then explores the several parallel lives of supporting characters, as well as the main characters' pasts (and even their families' pasts).Known in English as Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances. The full Japanese title is Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou, which means just "His and Her Circumstances."
This show provides examples of:
Absurdly Powerful Student Council: After a Time Skip, when Yukino's little sisters are entering high school, some exposition claims that Yukino and Arima have lead the school to a glorious new era, with Yukino depicted as a Roman Legionnaire. Now, granted, they're both brilliant honor students, but what exactly have they been up to? (It's never made explicit.)
Abusive Parents: Arima's biological mother Ryouko's entire relationship with Arima was a constant cycle of abuse and neglect. She would beat him constantly when they were together and lock him alone in their apartment for long periods of time, only to return later and typically beat him more. Arima was constantly sick or starving and stated that he mainly survived off of stale bread. The very last interaction he had with his mother before being taken away was her coming home after a long absence to merely check if he had died yet before leaving again.
Creative Differences - Disowned Adaptation: The anime got canceled after one season - Masami Tsuda, who was aiming for a more character and plot-driven story, despised what Gainax did to it. She was so pissed that she demanded for Hideaki Anno to be fired for all the changes he had done.
Author Appeal: Not very noticeable at first, but by the end of the manga, the story was slewing from one story the author wanted to tell to another - trouble was, they were only tangentially related to the main characters the readers cared about.
Becoming the Mask: Yukino wore her mask of perfection for so long that even when she decided not to put on a fake persona anymore, she discovered that her true personality had become like the mask just less perfect.
Arima also wore a mask of perfection, and a few more under the first one. This became an issue in later chapters because the stress of it was slowly destroying his life socially and emotionally.
Hurt Yukino and Souichirou will retaliate - in plain sight of the school adviser and without consequence.
Yukino also memorably snaps into berserk mode, when Tsubasa jealously destroys a picture of her taken from Arima's student ID.
Beware the Nice Ones: Arima may seem the perfect boyfriend — good-looking, caring, chivalrous, understanding — but it becomes clear quite soon that he has... issues. And there's Rika, who at the age of five managed to hit a boy some five years older with a baseball bat, and make him stop bullying her best friend Aya's older brother.
Also Yukino in the same play◊. Tsuda even lampshades it by commenting how, during the play, Yukino's shoulders broadened and her breasts flattened for some inexplicable reason.
Big Screwed-Up Family: The Arima family suffered from a continuing cycle of abuse and heartache. Reiichirou, Souichiro's grandfather and Soji and Reiji's father, was horribly physically abused by his own father because his father couldn't stand how beautiful he was. Reiichirou as a result was disconnected emotionally and abused his own children emotionally. Eiko as a result became a bitter and angry person, but Soji managed to rise above it and become a better man. Reiichirou later connected with another woman, where Reiji was conceived, but harassment from the Arima family caused the woman to attempt murder-suicide with Reiji, destroying the boy emotionally. Finally, Souichiro was emotionally stunted because of physical and emotional abuse he suffered from his biological mother Ryoko, and from the isolation he felt from the Arima family, who hated him because of Reiji.
Black Sheep: What Arima is considered by his entire family, save for his aunt and uncle.
Book and Switch: Done by Yukino, to hide a comedic book behind a more serious one.
Break Her Heart To Save Her: Attempted by Arima when he recovers the his memories of Ryoko's abuse. He then starts pushing Yukino away out of fear to harming her. It doesn't work. Even after he pretty much ravishes Yukino.
Brother-Sister Incest: Kazuma and Tsubasa. Well, sort of, since they're step-siblings. Kazuma is the first to fall in non-step-sibling love with Tsubasa but eventually the feelings are mutual. Their parents are briefly surprised, but completely supportive.
They also met in their mid-teens, so really there's nothing all that sibling like in their relationship.
Can Not Spit It Out: Reiji reveals to Soji at one point that despite his cold nature, their father Reiichiro really does love him but can't ever say it because he always ends up saying the wrong thing to Soji.
Defiled Forever: The manga's explanation for how Ryoko got as Ax-Crazy as she is, is apparently that she was molested in her childhood. You'd think that she was just claiming it to guilt-trip her son into giving her cash, but later flashbacks confirm her story.
Dysfunction Junction: Including but not limited to the entire Arima family, as wells as much of the main cast.
Ear Worm: In-universe version - In Episode 6, after Yukino and Souichirou share an emotion-charged hug, Yukino is left alone when Souichirou leaves to clear his head. To her horror, a song she really hates starts playing in her head.
The song is SOS by the 1970s' pop band Pink Lady. Yukino's hating of the song has to do with the lyrics (making it a Bilingual Bonus for those who understand them when the song plays).
Fake Band: The Yin & Yang, where Kazuma is the lead singer. Their supposed amazing and revolutionary sound gets away from being shown because they only appear in the manga (and for five minutes in the anime).
Hidden Depths: Asaba Hideaki, resident Chivalrous Pervert and Arima's extremely supportive best friend. It's not until the very last tankobon that the reader finds out about his awful relationship with his Jerk Ass family and the loneliness it brings.
Reiichirou Arima, Eiko and Soji's father, comes off as an emotionless bastard to his family. Not only does he have frequent affairs on his wife, to the point where she demands a divorce and ditches the children, but he shows no interest in his children's accomplishments. Whenever Eiko or Soji would talk to him about their good grades or general activities, instead of praising their accomplishments he would admonish them for showing joy over insignificant things. However, it was revealed that he suffered monstrous abuse from his own father for no other reason than the fact that he was beautiful. His whole body was covered in scars from the abuse, and it left him emotionally stunted. It turns out he really did love his children all along, but he didn't know how to express the love he felt for them because of the abuse he'd suffered and instead ending up hurting them with his emotionless nature, and he in turn resented them for his inability to express himself.
Oblivious Mockery: Reiichiro, the father of Soji and Reiji, is hinted at not understanding that his dismissive attitude towards his children is incredibly hurtful. One obvious example is when he shuns Eiko's dreams of becoming a doctor, and simply asks "What?" when she flees the room in tears.
Parental Neglect: When Arima's mother wasn't beating him, she was leaving him alone for days on end. Becomes horrifying after she learns Arima isn't going to get her easy money and outright leaves him to die.
Potty Failure: A young Soichiro is shown in a flashback as having wet the bed soon after being taken in by his aunt and uncle, he breaks down in absolute horror and cries his eyes out, as he fully expects this action to result in his new parents beating him and is shocked when they instead comfort him.
Rape as Drama: This skates a rather thin line, but during Soichiro's darkest time (when Ryoko resurfaces in his life), he forced himself on Yukino. He sees the act as rape, but when he tells that to Yukino she replies him that it wasn't, because she didn't refuse him either by saying no or pushing him away. (Paraphrased: "I only told you to wait, but I didn't tell you to stop!")
Real Men Can Cook: Apparently true for Asaba and Tonami. Arima still refuses (or very grudgingly complies) to eat what they make, though.
Sexy Discretion Shot: Both in the manga and anime, when Yukino and Arima consummate their relationship, the imagery goes into a bunch of metaphorical scenes including them as young children. So much so that it came off as something like a Big Lipped Alligator Moment, with readers/viewers debating whether they actually had sex or not, until it was explicitly confirmed a few chapters/episodes later.
Rape Discretion Shot: When Arima pretty much ravishes Yukino, we only get to see her hair and her school things on the floor.
School Idol: Yukino works hard to maintain this status.
Shout-Out: To Hideaki Anno's own Neon Genesis Evangelion in episode 11 of the anime. When Yukino begins to think of people she's met in the past to compare another person to, a quick use of the freeze-frame featureon one's DVD player reveals images of Misato, Kaji, Asuka, Shinji, Rei, and Toji, amongst others. Then later on when she's taunted by the president of a rival class, an imaginary segment has her she growing to the size of a building and looking and sounding very much like a berserk EVA.
In episode 1 Yukino is shown hunched over holding something in her palms, in a pose that is virtually a carbon copy of Rei when she holds Lilith's egg. In the same episode J. S. Bach's "Air" is playing in the background at one point (a piece used in NGE).
Then in episode 23, as Yukino gets on a bicycle with Arima, she starts the process with a close-up on Yukino's eyes (ala Shinji), and says "Unit One", ala Evangelion.
In general, there are a lot of stylistic choices extremely reminiscent of Eva in the anime, including a lot of elements from the last two episodes (original airing), such as spotlights on characters contemplating their situation and digesting their misfortunes, and even a Clip Show on episode 14 (as in Eva), except it carried over to the first half of ep. 15 in Kare Kano.
"Well Done, Son!" Guy: Both Soji and Eiko spent a better part of their childhood trying to win their father over by being overachievers and excelling in school and extracurricular activities. But Reiichirou would only greet their accomplishments with scorn, and Soji stopped caring after a while. Eiko however was emotionally crushed by her father's repeated rejection and became a very bitter person as an adult. Made all the more tragic by the fact that Reiichirou was proud of his children and loved them, but couldn't properly express it to them. It was also implied that Reiichirou recognized that they only pushed themselves to excel just to please him, which he thought was ridiculous.
Soichiro's motives for being an over achieving student was trying to make up for what he thought was the burden he bought on his aunt and uncle and he simply wanted to give back the care they gave him by being successful. His aunt and uncle could care less about any such idea and just want Soichiro to be happy.
Wife Husbandry: Asaba, in regards to Yukino and Arima's daughter Sakura. He tries to back off years later, but she will have nothing of it.
Wise Beyond Their Years: In the early volumes, Yukino's little sister Kano would frequently give her advice about her social and love life.
In a flashback in the Distant Finale, Sakura, then age 3, tells her mother Yukino to feel free to go back to work — she and her younger brothers will be fine.
Yamato Nadeshiko: Shizune, Arima's adopted mother, pulls off all aspects of this perfectly. This includes the "hidden steel" part of the trope, when she ends up coordinating with Yukino to get a chance to deliver a beatdown on Arima's abusive biological mother. Rika is clearly one in training.
Yandere: Arima's dark side has very strong whiffs of this. You slowly see his thoughts morph from wanting to be with Yukino, to wanting to isolate her from everyone and keep her just for himself. His fighting with these thoughts proves that Arima is a good guy, but him imagining tying Yukino in chains does not bode well for their relationship.