August 30, 2003

Kare Kano

Also known as:
  • 彼氏彼女の事情 (Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou in Japanese)
  • 男女蹺蹺板 (in Chinese)
  • His and Her Circumstances (in English)

Of course, all you would see is garbage unless you have Japanese and Traditional Chinese fonts installed, which is pretty damn unlikely unless you're running MacOS X, or if you got really, really bored and decided to install some Windows updates.

Whatever one's complaints may be about feminism in America, it's nice to be able to go into the bookstore and rent girl-y shoujo (少女)manga without feeling threatened. Frankly, most of the shoujo stuff is as trite as the bad shonen stuff (e.g. Dragonball) is dumb. Most high-school-based love stories are your typical opposites-attract stories, where a delinquent guy falls for the smart girl, the rich guy goes after the poor girl, the nerdy guy chases after the pretty girl, and combinatorics thereof. Kare Kano is different in that the pair are both smart, talented people at the top of the class at the best public high school in the prefecture, and the relationship is one of equals, even down to the fact that they both have something to hide. Still, you can tell it's shoujo since all the girls are thin, and the guys are tall, with eyes drawn even bigger than the girls'. The guys are just dying for the right woman to come along so she can listen to his feelings, relieve him of his teenage angst, and change him into a better man. Talk about harmful stereotyping. At least one doesn't have to worry about panty shots or large, jiggling breasts in shoujo manga. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I always wondered what it would be like had I stayed in Taiwan and in its (Japanese-style) school system. I imagine it would be kinda like Kare Kano, except without the:

  • Athletic prowess
  • Good looks
  • Top grades
  • Cute girlfriend
  • Admiration of my peers
Oh, and life doesn't go like a comic book, either. Maybe I'm better off being here.

Kare Kano is a wordy manga (and a wordy anime, too, with so much screen text and speech to subtitle that the DVD caused some players to lock up). Knew most of the characters and idiomatic expressions, although I did forget some of the pronounciations. That's not much of an accomplishment, really, considering that the target demographic is (well-read?) middle school girls.

Spoilers below. Highlight the hidden text in brackets to see what's going on.

I'll have to do some research into Japanese formality grammars, though. The main characters become an official couple by the first chapter of Volume 2 [only at the handholding stage though]. They [kiss for the first time] three chapters later (still in V2), and [Do It (Albeit illustrated in the most PG way possible. The animated scene, all three seconds of it, was included only in the Japanese home-video release. The American DVD contains the Japanese TV version, with only an ambiguous white text panel explanation. Of course, there was much complaining.)] in Volume 6. But they don't even call each other by their given names until Volume 10, and even then only rarely. Those crazy Japanese kids.

Posted by mikewang on 09:25 PM