Manga / Kare Kano

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/karekano.jpg

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 anime's story goes in a completely different direction from the manga, which eventually led to its inconclusive ending. Meanwhile, the manga continued for several more years, exploring the several parallel lives of supporting characters, as well as the main characters' pasts (and even their families' pasts), finally concluding with its 21st volume.

Known in English as His & Her Circumstances (although the Tokyopop manga uses the Japanese short title). 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.
  • Adaptation Distillation: As with Kodomo no Omocha, the anime team blended in enough screwball comedy to keep the romantic aspects from getting too saccharine.
    • However, Masami Tsuda herself was… rather less than pleased. See the Trivia page for more info.
  • Alpha Bitch: Maho starts as this, but soon she steps out of the role.
  • Always Someone Better: How Yukino views Arima at first. He, on the other hand, is too smitten by her to even notice it.
    • Yukino is this to Maho and the latter acknowledges it.
  • Aspect Montage
  • 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.
  • Babies Ever After: The ending.
  • The Baby Trap: In the manga, this was how Souichiro Arima was conceived and born.
  • Balloon Belly: Happens to Yukino in Episode 5.
  • 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.
  • Beneath the Mask: Arima is insanely scared of what's beneath his.
    • It Runs in the Family: Because he desperately hopes that whatever problems his biological parents had were not passed down to him.
  • Berserk Button: Mistake Tsubasa for a Middle Schooler and she'll explode. No really.
  • 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.
  • Bifauxnen: Maho and Yukino in Steel Snow. 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 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.
  • Broken Ace: Arima, very much so.
    • Yukino is as well, but a far milder version.
  • Broken Bird: Arima. HOLY SHIT, ARIMA.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: As the series becomes angstier, Arima and Yukino fit in here more and more.
  • 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.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: In the manga, it's Calling the Old Woman Out.
  • 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. Eiko also implies that Reiichiro wants her to become what she wants instead of a doctor as she only wants to be one to impress him. He says it so harshly though that it still makes her run out in tears.
  • Cast Herd
  • Child Prodigy: Arima (who else) is mentioned to have been one.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Asaba, who's very much a womanizer but will not force a girl into anything if she doesn't want to, and is also a very loyal friend.
  • Class Representative: Yukino and Arima.
  • Class Trip: In the manga, the characters get to go to Kyoto in a class trip.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Tsubasa Shibahime, when introduced.
  • Clip Show: That lasts 1 and 1/2 episodes.
  • Club President: Arima, too.
  • Completely Off-Topic Report: Aya Sawada's writing skill was discovered when she wrote a story that had nothing to do with the assigned report.
  • Crocodile Tears: Yukino attempts this when initially forced to do part of Arima's committee work. It fails.
  • Cut Short: The anime ran into even more of the problems with deadlines and budgets that plagued later episodes of Evangelion. It was cut short due to Tsuda's dissatisfaction with the later episodes.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Reiji.
  • 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.
  • Demon Head
  • Distant Finale: The manga.
  • Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: Arima, as his Dark Side emerges more and more.
  • 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).
  • Evil Matriarch: In the manga, Arima's mother Ryouko. Also a Manipulative Bitch.
    • Eiko, Arima's aunt, also applies, though it is later explained that she had a difficult family life which is why she resents her brother (Arima's adoptive father Shoji) and his family so much.
  • Faceless Masses
  • 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).
  • Family Theme Naming: Yukino and her sisters' names all end with the kanji "no" (野), which means "field".
  • Flirty Stepsiblings: Tsubasa and Kazuma.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: See Shout-Out below.
  • Gainax Ending: The anime came to an abrupt end just as a new arc was about to start, due to Creative Differences between Masami Tsuda and Hideaki Anno.
  • Gecko Ending: A plot-unrelated ending coupled with not finishing the original arc, due to Creative Differences with a really upset Masami Tsuda.
  • Generation Xerox: In the manga, it's shown that Yukino looks almost identical to her mother at the same age. Later, Arima ends up both looking and sounding just like his father.
  • Go-Getter Girl: Yukino's personality in public.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: When Soichiro and Yukino finally consummate their relationship, the following pages make it look like they just did the sexual equivalent of redeeming the souls of mankind.
  • Happily Adopted: Soichiro.
  • Happily Married: Yukino's parents and Soichiro's adoptive parents. Also Kazuma's mother and Tsubasa's father later.
  • He Is All Grown Up: Takefumi much to Tsubaki's disappointment.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Arima and Asaba, especially in the noticeably darker-in-tone second half of the manga.
  • 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.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes
  • Informed Attribute: Yukino mentioned Arima’s ‘traditionally narrow eyes’ as one of his features she finds attractive. Due to the Mukokuseki art style, the audience have no way of seeing this. The audience DOES get treated to a picture of Arima with half-closed eyes though which is probably the closest way of making him look asian.
  • Jerk Ass:
    • The male students from another school who caused trouble for the gang during the Kyoto field trip.
    • The male teacher who predicted failure for Kazuma when he wanted to quit school to join the 'Yin and Yang' rock band full time.
  • Karma Houdini: Arima punched a stranger for pushing Yukino when she tried to diffuse a fight during a school trip. The school adviser was watching — and pretended he was going blind or senile.
  • Let Her Grow Up, Dear: Takashi's attitude toward his sweet little Yukino, and her mother's reaction, are textbook examples.
  • Lost in Translation: The full Japanese title is a bit of a double entendre; "Kareshi" means "His" and "Kanojo" means "Her," but they also respectively mean "Boyfriend" and "Girlfriend."
  • Loudspeaker Truck
  • Luminescent Blush: Very common when characters in established or budding relationships are sufficiently embarrassed.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Arima (initially) after finding out Yukino's secret.
    Arima: What else am I supposed to do? I'm far too busy and you're the perfect person to do my work for me.
    Yukino: Bastard!
    Arima: You're going to be very useful. Well, I won't force you to do it. If you don't want to, just say so. That is, if you have that kind of courage.
    Yukino: *teeth clench* You scheming bastard.
  • Mama Bear: Soichiros adoptive mother definitely counts. She can be seen protecting him from bullies by charging at them with a broom in flashbacks and is the one that slaps his abusive biological mother.
  • Medium Blending
  • Mistaken for Gay: Asaba, by Miyazawa when they hated each other and he revealed his plans for Maryland to her. His choice of words: "I'm going to take (Arima) from you."
  • Nightmare Face: If this were a horror series, the faces Yukino makes while chasing Tsubasa through the school would be terrifying. As it is, they're still very much this to the poor hunted.
  • No Periods, Period: At some point, Yukino realizes that her period hasn't come in at least two months and wonders if she's pregnant. Considering the Teen Pregnancy trope below, she's right.
  • No Smoking: Played for laughs many times in the Manga, where in the series resident Author Avatar is smacked around by Yukino for smoking, as well as the series resident Yamato Nadeshiko.
  • 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. The fact that he probably actually tried to encourage her to follow what she wants to do instead of trying to impress him makes it almost a bit heartbreaking.
  • Official Couple
  • Older Than They Look:
    • Tsubasa, who at fifteen was confused with a middle-schooler by her younger stepbrother.
    • Kazuma and Tsubasa in the distant finale. They still look like they did in high school.
    • And Yukino's parents, who don't look they're nearing 40.
    • When Soiichiro meets his biological father, you wouldn't guess that the latter is at least double as old. It turns ridiculous when it is said in the last chapter that grown-up Soiichiro now looks exactly like his father, considering that Soiichiro actually looking like an adult in stark contrast to what Reiji looked like during his appeareance.
  • Onee-sama: Yukino's "facade".
  • Parental Abandonment: Arima is the biggest case, but there are several others.
  • 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.
  • Papa Wolf: Multiple cases:
    • Seems to be a pattern for Miyazawa fathers with daughters. Hiroyuki had physical fights with Yukinos grandfather and resorted to elope with his wife (and even gets scorned till today). The ever-perfect Arima also faces quite some issues with Hiroyuki himself, despite them being a lot less extreme. When Yukino teases Arima in the last chapter about Sakura marrying one day, he instantly gives a Big "NO!", causing her to remind him of this tendency in her family.
      • Specifically interisting about this is that so far, the fathers have apparently always married into the family, rather then being born into it. So instead of it being a trait of Miyazawa males, it could rather be that the Miyazawa women share a certain taste for possessive men.
    • Soji is very protective of Soichiro. He doesn't take physical action, but he defies his family multiple times whenever they bully his son. He also protects and spoils Reiji from their sister as well as other bullies and it is explicitly stated that he was more of a father than an older brother to Reiji.
    • Reiji turns out to be one. He at first seems to be uncaring, selfish and aloof, but the moment Soichiros abusive mother appears, he literally takes out a gun and attempts to murder her for Soichiros sake.
  • Petite Pride: Sakura Tsubaki, resident Tomboy, is proud to admit she has no boobs at all.
  • Pinky Swear
  • 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.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: The ending, "Yume no Naka e", released by Yousui Inoue in 1973 and made known to the generation that watched the show by Yuki Saitou in 1989. Arguably Covered Up again for overseas anime fans, who only know it as "the duet from Kare Kano".
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Yukino is the red, Soichiro is the blue.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Episode 10 of the anime; when Tsubasa goes a BIT too far in her vendetta against Yukino... and incurs Yukino's wrath.
  • Sacred First Kiss
  • 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.
  • School Play
  • Shoujo
  • 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 feature on 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.
  • Slasher Smile: Yukino Miyazawa sported a few of these.
  • The Snark Knight: Maho Isawa.
  • Squick: In-universe: Asaba's childhood photo of him being surrounded by older girls provokes this (silent) reaction from Miyazawa and Arima.
  • Stepford Smiler: Both Yukino and Arima. She does it to be praised and get everyone's love and admiration, he does it to hide his problems.
  • Stock Shoujo Bullying Tactics: After she stops trying to be a model student, Yukino has the entire class stop speaking to her.
  • Super-Deformed: Used heavily. Yukino spends at least half her time onscreen in this form.
  • Teen Pregnancy: The reason why Yukino and Arima marry soon after graduation is that she's pregnant with their eldest daughter, Sakura.
  • Tomboy: Tsubaki.
  • Troubled Abuser: By definition Ryoko is this. It doesn't ever excuse what she did to her son, though.
  • Two-Faced: Yukino is this at the beginning, but grows out of it. Soichiro deals with it for most of the manga.
    • Interesting in the fact that while Yukino's dual life is played for laughs, Soichiro's is much more nightmare fuel and causes him to be wildly self-destructive.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Tsubasa and, interestingly, we see the effects it has on her.
  • V-Formation Team Shot
  • "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.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Subverted: Tsubasa tries it on Yukino, but Arima isn't fooled one bit.
  • 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.

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