Reviews: Kare Kano

And that, kids, is why you do not mess with Anno’s work.

The beginning of the series was sheer brilliance. The introspection of the characters that come with a much lesser degree of NGE’s Dysfunction Junction, with a brilliant application of all of Anno’s trademark techniques for throwing off the viewer’s focus on the environment to focus on the characters’ mental state, along with some light self-parody—all of these made me believe that this could be my next favourite series, replacing NGE (and I sing NGE’s praises passionately when I talk about it).

After a while, especially after the episode exploring Yukino’s father’s Backstory, the series began to deteriorate, especially after Anno left the series. Later episodes were a decent watch, but not much more than that. Arima’s plotline felt like it was repeating itself and regurgitating his backstory. Bullying characters showed no remorse for their actions and got way too much screentime with little repercussion. The last episode, featuring a victim of bullying falling for his abuser, with absolutely no resolution of anything, all while using a very obnoxious narrative style, was a massive letdown.

The way I see it, Anno is a genius. His works are not for everyone, but he’s a brilliant director and he’s proven it not only in NGE, but also in his artsy feature films, Love & Pop and Shiki-jitsu, and in the beginning of this series. The problem arises when people restrict his creative liberties or try to be him, especially Kazuya Tsurumaki, but they’re not. It’s evident in the first half of EoE, and it’s painfully evident here.

Just watch up to ep. 18, and skip ep. 14 and the first half of 15, otherwise you’ll just feel really bad about all that missed potential. (OK, maybe continue up to ep. 24 or even 25, but don’t keep your hopes too high.)

Not bad. At first. After that...

I'm not quite sure what to say about this. Personally, I'm undecided on whether or not this was a good series. Like most, it has its moments, and there were times where I was really engaged in the plot, but there were also other moments when I genuinely thought, "Why am I still watching this?" I watched the dub, and while the acting wasn't that bad, it could have been better. The animation though… Don't. Get. Me. Started.

Kare Kano flicked back and forth between so many different art styles that I lost count around half way through. It goes from a light-hearted comedy style to a dark, serious one to a dramatic, artsy or completely random one. The first few times it was interesting, entertaining. It enriched the story. Then they did it again. And again. And again. These weren't just one time switches either. At first there were basically two distinct styles that the show would switch between. And I could live with that. But then they added more and more and they never got rid of any. After a while, I couldn't tell which one was the 'main' style anymore. By the end, the entire show was made up of still images more at home in a sketchbook than on a TV screen. To sum up an unnecessary rant: the frequent art shifts totally shattered my willing suspension of disbelief.

The plot too was a little iffy. The show played jump rope with the line between drama and melodrama, and while the former was great, the latter… not so much. I have to say, I enjoyed the tension and the drama. But that just kind of… faded away after the first six or seven episodes. It wasn't a sudden decrease in quality, just a gradual decline. But it was enough to kill it for me. Also, the conclusion of the series was inconclusive. Not so much that there was No Romantic Resolution, there was an implied ending (how good it was is up for debate), it was more that a lot of important points were Left Hanging.

Was Kare Kano worth watching? At first. Actually that attitude sums it up quite nicely. At first it was fine but, for me at least, it got worse with time. The only way to be sure of whether or not you'll like it is to actually watch it. Just be prepared for it to go downhill.