His and Her Circumstances Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • 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
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 180
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: His And Her Circumstances

His and Her Circumstances Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     June 22, 2002
Release Date: July 23, 2002


His and Her Circumstances Vol. #1
© Nozomi Entertainment


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)!

Pressure is high for Yukino Miyazawa to succeed, to be loved by all, and to be simply… the best. After working so hard to become the top student at her school, a new competitor has arrived to tumble her from her self made pedestal: Arima Souichirou. The instant she met him, she hated him. He topped her every effort without even trying. Now Yukino is putting her hard work into plotting her revenge, but was love part of the plan?

The Review!
After a long wait, something most Gainax titles seem to be afflicted with, His & Her Circumstances has finally hit the domestic shores. And outside of two subtitle specific issues on this rather complicated disc, it manages to put just about every other subtitle track produced to shame. Sub and dub fans will find this to be very important.

Audio:
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. We listened to the English track in a few places and while writing the review and had no issues with that either.

Video:
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 is pretty much non-existent during playback and there’s only a couple of instances where aliasing are noticeable. 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. I had hoped that some description would be included here, as while online fans who’ve followed this release will know what each means, the casual fans are going to be scratching their heads. Having both selected as on, you get subtitle track 3. Track 3, which we used for playback on two systems, provided us with two sizeable problems, but problems that are bypassable.

In the first episode early on, when Yukino’s fellow students are praising her, we get large blocks of gray kanji on the screen. During this, they stop being translated and then the dialogue stops being translated. Then the video freezes. You can rewind it, change it to subtitle track 2 and get the dialogue and it will play through fine, and then change back to track 3 on the fly once past this freeze point. This also occurs three minutes in on episode 5. Otherwise, the subtitles for track 3 play flawlessly throughout all six episodes. But we encountered this problem on two separate brand DVD players.

Packaging:
Using a rather happy looking couple shot, the cover features a bright and energetic pairing of Yukino and Souichirou holding hands. 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. This release is in a clear keepcase, but the reverse side of the cover is blank. And as with all other TRSI releases to date, there is no insert in the disc. In regards to the disc itself, there are five different images that are being pressed, so in a sense they’re collectable. I got a pink background with a Yukino on it. Yay me!

Menu:
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 only thing I would have liked to have seen is what I mentioned in regards to the subtitle selection, is some kind of explanation of what’s what.

Extras:
A good selection of mostly text extras are included with this first volume, though Gainax shows tend to have very little in terms of extras. This is pretty evident as most of the ones here are made just for the US release. There’s a two minute storyboard video of pencil sketches showing one particular scene that uses the onscreen subtitle script that’s interesting to see. There’s a good segment of translators notes, done as the two translators questioning each other on things. The directors notes talks about the shows journey to completion while the production journal is what we’ve seen on the TRSI website, broken down into three calendars where you can select the dates that updates were posted. There’s also several pages worth of character bios with some nice animation shots accompanying them.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
His & Her Circumstances is a show that we managed to catch about five minutes of several years ago during a convention. The scene was particularly well done, since it was something that stood out in our minds for nearly four years since, as we waited patiently for it to arrive so we could see it. With it now here, it’s definitely everything we had felt that it was then and a whole lot more.

The show revolves around a romance that develops between Yukino Miyazawa and Souichirou Arima. There’s no psychic powers, no aliens, no fantasy elements, nothing outlandish at all. It is, at its heart, a very strong story of love between two people. And as we meet them, they’re both very strong and very weak people, as both are entering their freshman year in high school. Miyazawa always been the number one student, the one with all the elements of grace and conduct, praised and admired by students and teachers. Arima is pretty much the same way coming from his school, with the added element of being good at sports. The two are definitely set to be rivals.

Each comes from a different background, and each has achieved the “perfection” for different reasons. Miyazawa comes from a middle class family and has two younger sisters, a fairly quiet mother and a somewhat panicky yet humorous father. Having become addicted to praise, she lives two lives. She’s Miss Perfect at school, but at home she’s somewhat more laid back, takes out her contacts and wears her middle school outfit to hang out in. Her school life is a mask of sorts for her.

Arima is much the same way. His aunt and uncle adopted him when he was young, and he’s always tried to not be what his real parents were. With the family line being doctors going back many generations, there’s wealth to the family and a certain amount of prestige. Arima works hard to avoid the possibility of turning out like his parents, and becoming what his other relatives thought he would become. His masks are much more angst driven than Miyazawa’s, but they’re both people who are hiding their real selves.

When Arima confesses his feelings for Miyazawa, after getting a glimpse of her real self by accident, the two begin their spiral into removing the masks and allowing each other to see who they really are. They offer each other support and understanding. But each also runs through the mental circles of wondering if they’re not good enough for the other, thinking that they’re not worthy of the other persons attention and so forth. This isn’t a fluff romantic story by any means, it’s one that goes right to the heart of the heart and deals with the raw emotions people feel. To a large extent, I don’t think this show will play as well to someone whose never truly been in love and been loved in return.

Of course, all of this isn’t to say that it’s constant drama. There’s a huge dose of humor in this series, with all kinds of gags, silly animation styles and outtakes of sorts that give it its real charm. When Miyazawa tries to figure out a way to convey her feelings to Arima, she goes through a number of varied attempts, with some of them showing maps listing him as “prey” and so forth. There’s also a good amount of physical humor throughout, something that does a great job of going back to the classic kinds of comedy of Chaplin.

There is so much to this show on several levels, that it’s really hard to convey it in a few paragraphs. Once we started on the show, we went through all six episodes, something we very rarely do. Each one flowed quickly to the next, as we wanted more and more. Within a very short space of time, the relationship between these two characters became more real than probably the last hundred anime series I’ve seen. While I’ve been on a kick for more mature stories and shows that don’t feature teenagers, this is one I’m glad I’m getting to see, and probably in the best way possible.

This is worth the wait.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Character Bios,Storyboard Video,Translators Notes,Directors Notes,Production Journal

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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