His and Her Circumstances Vol. #5 (of 5) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, September 02, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, September 30, 2003
What They Say
From Gainax, with production by Toshimichi Otsuki (EVANGELION, SLAYERS, NADESICO), chief direction and story by Hideaki Anno (EVANGELION) and character design by Tadashi Hiramatsu (EVANGELION) comes Right Stuf’s latest release: His and Her Circumstances (Kare Kano)! A fan favorite for years, this title is sure to fly off the shelves!
Yukino has finally decided she will do Aya’s play, but with Culture Fest deadlines looming, not everyone is being so supportive of her determination to make her acting debut. Maho is refusing to take part, the student council members are telling her to give up, and the other clubs have already claimed all of the materials and practice space. In the midst of the turmoil, Yukino is about to uncover help from some very unexpected sources – Mr. Kawashima and...Asaba?!?
With everyone else working hard on Aya’s play, Arima is feeling alone and depressed. Yukino seems to be changing. Does she really even need him anymore?
Contains Episodes 22-26.
While the series kicked off with a bang, the finale goes out like a whimper, quiet and introspective.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Though a late 90’s release, there’s only a basic stereo mix with nothing being thrown to the rear speakers. The forward soundstage is used quite nicely however with some amusing moments of directionality, but the majority is fairly center channel oriented outside of the music.
There’s a couple of ways we’re going to break down the review of the video. Overall, this transfer is very clean and looks great. Cross coloration picks up a fair bit more throughout these last episodes as well as the aliasing effects. The grain scene in many scenes picks up as well. The Gainax Effect is in full force here, which means that their masterful editing process provides us yet again with frame jitter during scene transitions. This will bother some people more than others though.
There’s a huge amount of onscreen text in this show, so there’s two ways things are done. If you playback in Japanese via the menus, you get angle 1. Angle 1 provides the original text during the opening about sitting in a well-lit room. Angle 1 provides the original Kanji credits at the end of each episode. Angle 1 provides the Japanese actresses in the next episode previews talking about what’s coming up. If you select English language in the menus, you get angle 2. Angle 2 provides a full English translation of the well-lit piece in the beginning. Angle 2 provides English credits over the original Japanese video (minus Kanji credits). Angle 2 provides the US actresses in the next episode previews talking about what’s coming up.
With all the onscreen text, you have the option of having it translated or not. If you have the option off, your eyes get a rest but you miss a huge amount of the show. If you have it on, you have what I think is the best subtitling job on any DVD I’ve ever seen. While we’ve definitely applauded each studio that’s taken to using soft subtitles for onscreen Kanji translations, those are generally the same simple white or yellow font in varying sizes. Here, they’re all different styles, colors and designs. They’ve done an incredibly admirable job of mirroring what the intent is with the onscreen text. When we see a crate that says “Orange” in Kanji, we get a similar sized English soft sub that says “Orange” and is orange.
When selecting subtitles, you have two options, each selectable. Dialogue is either on or off, and this is normal subtitles. Titles is either on or off, and this is the onscreen text. Unlike the first volume, we have a multi-page explanation of what the features are and what your selections will show you. This normally isn’t necessary for most releases, but for this one it’s almost critical and I’m really glad it’s here.
A great close-up shot of Yukino and Armia make up the final cover, with his eyes casting a look her way. The back cover provides a couple of animation shots and a summary of what the show is about. The discs episode numbers are included as well as the discs features. The volume numbering does show on the back as well as the spine. As with all other TRSI releases to date, there is no insert in the disc. The only mistake is the listing of 150 minutes for the runtime, when there’s only five episodes or 125 minutes of runtime.
With some construction imagery in the background, the main menu is a large billboard that has rotating images that fill out a larger image while some of the instrumental music plays along. Selections are laid out along the bottom in the form of buttons, and this menu looks great all told. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is straightforward.
The final volume has quite a bit of extra content on it for the Japanese fans. First up is several more screens of translation notes, notes which prove Shoko knows far too much about various Japanese music groups and pretty boys. The big extra is the interview session, “Opus 4” on the Japanese release, which has the voice actresses for Tsubasa, Tsubaki, Aya and Rika. This piece runs just over twenty two minutes, so it’s a nice bit of fresh content. Not to be outdone, there’s a five minute outtakes session with the English voice actresses and shows them completely murdering the next episode previews. I hate it because it put the Laverne & Shirley theme song in my head when I least expected it. A series of eight “Phone Messages” have been included as well, conveniently in English for those wishing to torture friends or for cell phone use.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the final volume of the series, the show moves in a number of different directions and tries at times to be all things and explore most of the characters. With a cast as large as this, it gets to be problematic, especially when you toss pretty much an entire episode of recap just before the end.
The main backdrop for the final arc of the series here is the cultural festival that the school is throwing in its yearly attempt to have the students learn responsibility, self reliance and the use of varied skills. For the most part, Miyazawa has been resistant to getting involved in these things since she’s got enough on her plate. But after seeing just how involved Arima got in his kendo with going all the way to the nationals and having all that and more in his life, she decides that she’ll push forward and do the play that Aya had written about their high school days.
This comes as a shock to everyone in the group, but they all go along and really get into it, except for Maho who just fumes about it but still ends up doing all of her work and memorizing her lines. Miyazawa goes into her usual mode and does a ton of work on it and organizes things so they all go smoothly, but there’s also an element of fun and goofing off to it as they try to figure it out. Securing a teacher to let them perform the play since they’re not a club as well as getting a sponsor falls into their laps as well, allowing them to move swiftly with little time.
With all of this energy and effort, we see how it affects Arima as he watches it all going on, especially when Miyazawa ends up coming up and dealing with people like Asapin and Tonami. He doesn’t specifically get jealous about it, particularly since with Miyazawa not really liking Tonami, but he sees things through his own twisted vision of self and keeps thinking that he’s unworthy of her. Parts of his past continue to haunt him and he keeps this darkness as close to him as possible so as to not let her see. She does try her best to work this out with him though, leading to some very interesting scenes in how they each view themselves and each other.
A good chunk of time is also spent in dealing with Tonami and Sakura, going back and forth with how they are today and how they were a few years earlier, back when as Tonami realizes, “gender didn’t matter.” The entire introduction of Tonami into the show, while adapting from the same in the manga, just continues to feel like too much in an already crowded series. The amount of time taken away from the primary relationship because of this just goes up and up.
Which is why, as much as I enjoyed the entire episode given over to Miyazawa’s young sister Kano, it still felt like a waste. We get to know her and her sister Tsuki a bit better through it and have the amusing allure of a romance between two girls, but this story from a different view doesn’t really add anything to the overall picture that we’re going to get in the anime. And that’s where I think things really started to fall apart at the end is where they were trying to be faithful to the manga but not dealing properly with the constraints of the anime itself. Bringing in so many new elements near the end of the show, never mind a recap episode at episode 23, just doesn’t give a sense of real direction and control behind the scenes.
The lack of charm and warmth of the relationship between Arima and Miyazawa is sorely lacking in the final volume. The few moments they get together are precious, such as riding together or talking about spending some time alone, but it’s simply far too little at this stage. Over the years, I’ve become used to series that start off great, run well but then don’t know how to end properly. His & Her Circumstances is yet another one to fall that way. I knew there couldn’t be a proper ending since the manga is still running, but there are plenty of proper places to close up shop. Sadly, the anime didn’t find one in my opinion.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Translation Notes,Voice Actor Interviews,English Actresses’ Outtakes, Phone Messages
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Nozomi Entertainment
Running time: 150
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: His And Her Circumstances