His and Her Circumstances
Also known as: Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou
Yukino thrives on adoration and attention at school. She's a model student and seemingly a perfect girl, driven to be the best at everything. No one would suspect it's all an act. Yukino's is devastated when the unthinkable happens: a guy appears who is BETTER at being perfect than her. Plotting his downfall was such an easy thing. Arima even professed to love her, so he'll soon be putty in her hands. Then he discovers her secret; her "perfection" is merely a facade.
Arima is hiding things about himself too. For instance he seems like such a nice guy, but is in fact a bit of a sadist. Arima is a busy guy, so finds it useful to have a minion like her to do his homework. As Yukino begins to buckle under the pressure and resigns herself to her fake act being exposed, she realizes she's fallen in love with him.
The two uncover truths behind each other, but only now begin to realize what it's cost them. Perhaps they can find more fulfilling things in life together.
Some shows are clearly good stuff when you see them, but few have a long term impact. Even years later His and Her Circumstances is still considered among the shoujo anime greats. Everything comes together with a good plot, and fun characters. Mix it together with a level of energy nearly insane, and the show becomes one of those anime titles you'll always remember.
It's not all fun and hijinx however. After a while His and Her Circumstances becomes very introspective. As two model students, Arima and Yukino begin to question why they feel so driven to achieve. Does that make them happy? As the two explore their relationship, they wonder if perhaps love can give them joy that even the praise they so desperately sought couldn't do. Interestingly the school teachers become antagonists, putting pressure on them because of lower academic performance now that they're dating. For a show which seems to have such a simple premise, this one digs into many topics in insightful ways.
Despite all the praise I could heap on this one (which is a lot), there are HUGE problems as well. Each episode begins with a "recap", often going for over 2 minutes. If that isn't enough, There's a recap episode, but it stretches for 1.5 episodes. If you have long term memory issues, this is the anime for you.
That's a minor nitpick compared to the downward spiral this anime hits around episode 11. What happens to an anime when the budget runs out? Bad things. Some sections are nearly a slide show. What could be worse than that? They wiggle paper cut-outs in front of still photographs (not joking). The story begins to meander as well, drifting away from Arima and Yukino to characters who aren't as captivating. The series will never finish either. A spat broke out between studio Gainax and the original manga author who didn't like direction taken with the anime. Now neither want to deal with it.
That aside, the beginning is certainly good enough to pick this one up for a watch, even if inconclusive. The dub is tolerable, but not much more than that. Episodes 1-11 are highly recommended, and 22-26 are decent. The rest is pretty much a waste. Due to the vintage, it's priced and packaged in a way making the bad parts skippable. Hindsight being 20/20, I expected this one to be forgotten like many others over the years. I'm always a little surprised when people ask for shoujo recommendations, His and Her Circumstances is still named as one to watch. That says a lot about how it had a certain something which made it special. It's just too bad that it lost that as well.
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