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"His And Her Circumstances": When Shows End Too Soon

From the people who brought you the existential giant robot show Neon Genesis Evangelion (coming to an Adult Swim near you!) comes a story about love, honor, sacrifice, revenge, and a whole lot of destruction. Qualify the level of destruction to “confined within a Japanese high school,” and that’s a pretty accurate description of His And Her Circumstances. Two students, Yukino Miyazawa and Souichirou Arima, are academic rivals at the top of their class. But after a few unexpected moments, will the two overcome their similarities and become a couple for the ages?

The Right Stuf brought this series to America a few years ago, though it’s probably better known as a still-running manga series. Sucker for teen dramas that I am, I had to give the series a chance.

Miyazawa was the girl you knew back in high school who was hot, sporty, smart, and a natural leader. At least, that’s the image she wants to project. Under that facade, she’s really the Queen of Vanity and works incredibly hard to be that hot, sporty, smart girl. This was a secret well kept from everyone outside of her own family.

That is, until new guy Arima showed up. Equally smart, sporty, and hot (I guess), he gives Miyazawa a run for her money. When he accidentally catches the true Miyazawa (at home, in sweats, wearing glasses, kicking him in the face), she begs him to keep the secret. Arima teases her about this for a while, but eventually the teasing becomes love between the two.

And thus you have the catalyst for the series. While it mainly focuses on the love and rivalry between this pair, their friends and family all get spotlight plotlines and episodes. One teen tries to get back at a girl who bullied him as a child; one girl has to deal with her father remarrying; and so forth. The series, sadly, starts a plotline near the end that went unresolved when the series was cut short at episode 26 when manga author Masami Tsuda pulled the plug on the show. Thus the long-awaited play for the Culture Fair never comes to fruition.

Tsuda may have hated him, but even though director Hideaki Anno goes horrendously existential in parts of his shows, he definitely knows how to throw some creative animation into the mix. The majority of His and Her Circumstances uses standard animation, but at times it cuts to live-action stills, finger puppets, scans from the manga, and so forth. The storyboarding is also of staggeringly high quality, and the sheer variety of angles guarantees that the viewer’s eyes will never be bored.

Visual gags are in abundance in His and Her. People jump out of buildings, grow into enormous menacing demons, bash each other in the face, talk to ghostly representations of themselves, and get lit on fire. Any fan of classic American animation who misses the quick-fire visual gags of the Termite Terrace crew is sure to enjoy seeing the old masters’ spirits alive and well in Japan.

Many of these gags involve text flying every which way, and the Right Stuf does an admirable job of translating it while trying to retain the original font and color. Supposedly this presentation took hundreds of lines of code and months to complete, so by all means savor it.

The extras are pretty decent for a 26-episode anime. The first four discs have bios of the main characters (a nice reminder, as there are a lot of main characters), while all five have Translator’s Notes (an interview with the translator explaining cultural elements and translation choices) and DVD credits. The first disc has some information from the producer, notes on the series, and a Journal of the first few months of dubbing, along with partial storyboards for an episode. There are also four interviews with the Japanese VAs. It would have been nice to see these with the English VAs, as the Japanese ones are very giggly—and it doesn’t help that the subtitles are hard to read. The final disc has outtakes of the English actresses flubbing their lines when offering previews of upcoming episodes; phone messages (if you want Arima to greet people on your voice mail); and the only set of trailers of the series.

The discs’ menus are sometimes extremely slow to load. And maybe this is a problem exclusive to me, but the series is set up to play in Japanese, with subtitles, but without titles subtitled. Every time I wanted to watch a disc, I had to change it to English, without subtitles, but with signs translated. Just a personal thing if you’re a dubbie. The dub is excellent, and though the video quality ain’t too hot, it’s easily watchable, especially when you consider the show is almost seven years old.

His And Her Circumstances is a great series that’s too short. The DVDs are well done, so if you like the teen dramas, grab this series.

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