Tag: Gainax

His and Her Circumstances: Building on top of Evangelion


His and Her Circumstances, or Kare Kano for short, is famous among Otaku for being the final piece of animation directed by Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno, who left the project before it had finished due to disputes with advertisers and the author of the original Manga, Masami Tsuda. Which is strange because she, supposedly, claims she was unhappy with Gainax’s focus on the humor and not the romance. After watching the show I doubt that was the only thing she was uncomfortable with in the adaptation.


Kare Kano is an odd show, not odd in the sense that it’s a weird or hyper active like some recent Gainax titles. It’s odd because the core of the story is a generic Shoujo anime. Yet, Anno takes what could have been a simple romantic comedy and transforms it into a commentary on the nature of relationships and how they effect and charge individuals. A few episodes in the post-Evangelion style of Anno is apparent. Elements reserved for some of Evangelion’s more spectacular episodes are used in Kare Kano with abandon. These include sketches, dialogue as text for emphases, still frames, long sequences of inner monologue, manga frames, and abstract animation meant to symbolize a character’s mental state.

Lets try to go back to the time and place and get into the head of Anno as he starts to direct Kare Kano. It’s the year 1998 and he just finished creating one of the most influential anime of all time, one that’s colossal impact is still being felt over fifteen years later. Then he was allowed to refinish the ending of his masterpiece with a huge budget and again creates a masterpiece that pushes animation forward narratively and stylistically. Gainax will never raise higher than the peak they reached in the wake of End of Evangelion. How is Anno rewarded for these accomplishments? He gets to adapt a Shoujo manga.

Kare Kano is unique for Gainax. It’s the first straight Shoujo title that they’ve done and the first time that Gainax has ever adapted a previously published work. So Anno was being challenged in one respect, but he was also being restricted to a set source material. Not that it stopped him from being Anno.


I’m going to a bold statement: Kare Kano is one of the most innovative piece of animation I’ve seen. I’m not saying that Kare Kano is a better show than Evangelion or Anno’s previous works but the way he approached Kare Kano is able to turn what is a rather generic Shojo into a visual and emotional thrill ride. The way Anno works with the characters and builds the relationship is unique, especially in Shojo, and taking a simple romantic comedy and transforming it into a physiological character study that Anno perfected in Evangelion.

I wouldn’t be a proper Evangelion fan if I didn’t notice the constant references to Anno’s previous work. The first one happens only minutes into the series where Yukino’s is giving her opening monologue and strikes a pose that emulate’s Rei standing over the earth in End of Evangelion while a glowing white ball appears in her hand to make the picture complete. Anno reuses Evnagelion sound effects, music, recreates pieces of animation, and references Evangelion throughout the series. The chief reason these are in the series, I believe, is to give a nod to the Gainax fanboys and allow Anno to trumpet his own work. There is also a note of sadness to the Evangelion references, as if Anno lamented it being over and regretted working on his current project, but I might be projecting.


It’s clear why Anno would have been interested in Kare Kano’s narrative. In Evangelion, Anno dealt with a handful of characters who are defined by their duality. Shinji built up a wall around himself in order to hide from his Father’s rejection while pretending to hate him and Asuka coveted the praise of others because of her own struggles with an absent Mother. Kare Kano’s two main characters deal with similar issues. Yukino loves to be praised and adored so she puts on the persona of the perfect student. Flawless appearance, perfect grades, willing to help, member of every committee during special events, and beautiful. However, when that position is challenged by the equally smart Arima and she losses first place her entire persona begins to unravel. She has to work even harder to maintain her grades because holding that number one position is the basis for the entire character she constructed for herself. The breaking point only comes when she learned that Arima, the seemingly perfect Arima, is putting on a show of his own.

Arima’s desire to hide his true self comes from an abusive childhood which ended when he was taken away from his parents and sent to live with his Aunt and Uncle. Feeling ashamed at himself for his own childhood and carrying the burden of his parents, Arima attempts to make up for those aspects of himself by excelling at school and sports while attempting to not being a burden on his adoptive family.


The two characters struggle with their duality in some breathtaking scenes which explore the character’s personalities and back story in amazing detail. Anno doesn’t hold back in exposing these character’s flaws, completely cracking apart what had previously been presented to the audience. That is the exceptional aspect of Kare Kano, it goes far beneath the surface of the characters and roots the relationship deep in the psychology of the characters. They become the only people who they reveal their true selves to and in doing so the two share a connection that Yukino has only had with her family, and Arima has never had with anyone.

The most impressive part of Kare Kano is that it’s the most realistic romance anime I’ve ever seen. The relationship progresses smoothly; Yukino and Arima start off hating each other, then they become friends, followed by falling in love. Even after they admit their feelings the progress continues to dating, to needing to be around each other, and finally through the stages of a physical relationship. The majority of Shojo spends far too much time on the first few parts of the relationship, so much so that most series end after the main characters confess their feelings for each other or share a single kiss. When I hear romance anime I think of misunderstandings, love triangles, and endless dead ends. Kare Kano gets through that in the first ten episodes. Of course the narrative is the work of Masami Tsuda, but the way Anno builds the characters before the relationship even begins makes the progression of their relationship all the more satisfying.

H%26H004.pngAnno also takes some serious risks with the animation style. My experience with Shoujo is that directors traditionally don’t get excessively artistic but rather play the animation straight and add a healthy amount of sparkles. Outside of his Evangelion-esque psychological scenes there are episodes that feature heavy use of still images, sketches of characters with text, and was able to sneak in still photography.

The most interesting episode, Episode 19, comes from one directed by Anno’s protege Kazuya Tsurumaki, who took over the series once Anno left. It’s a completely insane mash up of styles using photographic backgrounds, featured all the characters in a crayon like style, and had hyperbolic scenes animated using paper cut outs on popsicle sticks. The episode probably represents a time crunch caused by the departure of Hideki Anno, but it certainly is left as a testimony to the abstract levels in which Gainax is capable. Not until Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt have I seen them use alternatives to standard animation, yet here they combine standard animation with a host of other styles to create a visually jarring and yet thought provoking piece of art.


Much of the nonromantic aspects of the seres pale in comparison to how Anno handles the characterization and relationship between Arima and Yukino. The middle of the series concerns side stories where Arima is noticeably absent, and Anno seems to adapt these episodes straightforward as opposed to making them his own as he did with the first half of the narrative. It doesn’t matter anyway, as the series abruptly ends and will never be continued by Gainax, as requested by Masami Tsuda. It’s a shame Anno didn’t get a free hand to do whatever he wanted with the series as a whole piece, but even beyond that, the anime no ending but just closes in the middle of the “14 day” arc where Yukino and friends are preparing a play for the cultural festival. The anime covers the preparations for the festival, but ends right before the festival begins. The play sounded like a new opportunity for deep character study and while I could read the manga to find out how the “14 days” arc plays out I would have liked to see Anno or Tsurumaki tackle a play within an anime that reflects on the characters. That seems like an ideal situation for the director to craft. Alas, it was not meant to be.

Kare Kano is, ultimately, an experimental anime for Anno that ended poorly. The core story and characters are solid but enhanced by the narrative and visual techniques of a master animator. Anno brings his craft as a director and the Gainax staff to their absolute highest and it’s a shame that the unstable Anno was unable to finish working on the series and, until the first Evangelion remake in 2007, retired from animation all together. If Anno ever returns to the Directors chair, for something that isn’t Evangelion, I think the world is in for a treat.

Convention Report: ConnectiCon 2011

Again the premiere multi-genre convention in New England has come and again it provided a ton of fantastic events for a wide variety of geekery from hard core miniature gaming to My Little Pony fandom.

This isn’t like the other Anime Conventions that I attend because, for starters, this convention isn’t just anime. ConnectiCon was started in order to fill a void of no serious convention presences in the state. The convention quickly grew from a small college con to fill the beautiful Connecticut Convention center. It has little industry presence but a fantastic community around all the aspects the convention covers. The fans come out in force and fill the board gaming areas, dress up in Doctor Who cosplay, play in the dozen Magic the Gathering tournaments over the weekend, and relax in the Manga library or anime screening room. Unfortunately with all the good culture comes some of the worst of convention culture. Free Hug signs plague the halls, people blast music in the common areas while dancing, and shouting memes could be heard. Luckily, the common areas are so large that those people are easily avoided and the convention so much that motivated con-goers won’t even be spending much time in the common areas.


The worst panel I attended at ConnectiCon was “Bang your Head! A look at Heavy Metal Music.” It was run by someone who was clearly a huge fan of Metal but I was never sure what the point of his panel was. He presented it in a 101 method which didn’t fit the title or the attendees who ranged from the confused why this panel was happening; like me; to the people who were far too into it and were head-banging an inappropriate amount. I didn’t stay long enough to see where he was going, but I do know that he thinks the bass guitar is underutilized in metal. Whatever that means.

Guest Carlos Ferro hosted this panel on his obsession with figure collecting in “Action Figure Collectors Anonymous.” The panel had a feel good vibe, you shouldn’t be ashamed of your passions if you like a property then you should just start buying toys because they are physical symbols of your passion. The panelist also gave tips for getting friends and family members addicted to figure collecting, start buying them small figures and eventually they’ll start buying them for themselves! Ultimately it was fun to see Mr. Ferro’s passion and collection but the panel boiled down to simply, “Check out my awesome collection, toys are awesome”

My Little Panel: Friendship is Magic was one of the three My Little Pony Panels at the convention. I only saw this one and, well, I presented the third one which I’ll go over later. The panel was defiantly a fan treat. The presenters were knowledgeable and went over some interesting architectural inspirations from the show and ended it with a group discussion over Celestria’s role as ruler of Equestria. A fun panel, but definitely only for Bronies.

Tengen Toppa Evangelion was presented by the same couple that did My Little Panel and it was carried out with the same expertise. Unfortunately their ideas were lost by technical problems, the laptop the were using rebooted twice in the middle of the panel, and the video they wanted to show was less effective due to lack of subtitles and the fact that ConnectiCon panel rooms, with the exception of the largest one, were stocked with 32” televisions instead of projectors a surprise to both Panelists and the ConnectiCon panel department. So while their thesis was solid and interesting, it was obscured by bad technology.

One of only two panels by the fantastic Gekknights team, who ran the panels department for ConnectiCon, “Anime Openers from Around the World” showed some classic anime openers and how they’ve been adapted for different markets. The chief fact I took from the panel: Germans love techno. Like all Geeknight’s panels Rym presented it with an infectious enthusiasm and It was neat to see the different music and different styles of openers from around the world. It served as a calming way to start Saturday at the convention; the only criticism is that when only the music changed Rym probably shouldn’t have shown the same openings completely four times in a row. Those points got a little tedious. Other than that it was a fantastic panel.

ConnectiCon featured three Doctor Who panels, two of which I was able to attend. The first, “Doctor Who – TARDIS’, Jellybabies, and you”, started off interesting but devolved into a Q&A and group discussion fairly quickly. At the end the panel turned into, “Hey how about that cliffhanger, that was pretty crazy.” I’m sure fans enjoy that panel style and the group interaction, but when I go to panels I want to learn or be entertained and there just wasn’t much substance to take in.

“Tales of the Time Lords” was presented by anime anthropologist Charles Dunbar and Geek standup comedian Uncle Yo. The panel was a detailed look at the history of Doctor Who with the in-depth analysis expected from a Charles Dunbar panel combined with the energy and enthusiasm of Uncle Yo. As always, Uncle Yo’s passion and energy was infectious but his jokes were hit and miss on the crowd. The visual gags, such as replacing Amy Pond with Haruhi Suzumiya, all got a huge reaction. The panel ended with a poorly planned debate on who is the best companion where the panelists brought up people from the audience to argue for their favorite. Uncle Yo ended the panel before all the volunteers got to speak, however, because the fireworks from nearby River Fest had begun. Audience participation is always tricky and this time it was a dud.

Friday night FAKKU presented two panels, “Visual Novels and Eroge” and “Hentai worth watching”, back to back in the largest of ConnectiCon’s panel rooms. The panelists, Jacob and Mike, approached their topic with humor even though they were expects and obviously serious about the form. They recommended five Visual Novels, both pornographic and non-pornographic, with some fairly detailed reviews for a live panel. Hentai worth Watching was the best panel of the convention. FAKKU talked the audience through a handful of absolutely ridiculous hentai titles using screenshots. The point of the panel was to show just how nonsensical hentai can become while at the same time celebrating their own passion for porn.

My Panels


I gave two panels at ConnectiCon, my first two panels, and they went extremely well for one reason: I worked incredibly hard on them. It’d be unfair for me to review them, as I’m a little biased and would only point out how many times I say “UM”, so enjoy the videos below!

How “Meta” destroyed the Anime Industry

Confound these Ponies: Rise of My Little Pony Fandom

Board Gaming

Over the last couple months I have been getting into some serious board gaming. That bug started back at ConnectiCon 2006 when my friends and I played our first designer board game called Rune Bound. The gaming room at ConnectiCon is the best I’ve ever seen. Pax East certainly had more individual board games than the ConnectiCon library but it has nothing over the number of different quality games.

ConnectiCon has always had a ticketing system for when you are taught a game by a ConnectiCon guest or participate in a gaming tournament but this year they allowed members who simply borrowed games to earn tickets. Anyone can earn tickets simply by hanging out in Board Gaming and enjoying some games. The tickets can be redeemed for prizes, the selection of which is as varied as the types of games available at the convention. Most Dungeons and Dragons book you’d want, dozens of other lesser known RPGs, Magic Cards, dice, and a score of high quality board games. At ConnectiCon if you spend a couple of hours playing board games with friends or strangers you could walk out with a $50 board game. That alone pays for the weekend.

Dealers Room

ConnectiCon dealer’s room is nowhere near the size of Anime Boston or New York Anime Festival but all the big east coast anime vendors show up for the small convention on top of some more general interest vendors that sell board games, RPGs, replica weapons, and more!

So, as always, here is my haul from ConnectiCon. I spent a little too much at Anime Boston so I tried to keep my spending under control.


Artist Alley

ConnectiCon’s artist alley is also small compared to the larger anime conventions I go to but it offers most of the large east coast artists, some interesting small artists, and a large number of Web comics creators.

Here is my haul from Artist Alley. I love the artist alley!


Notable Cosplay

More from ConnectiCon 2011:

Connecticon 2011 in Pictures, Part 1

Connecticon 2011 in Pictures, Part 2

Connecticon 2011 in Pictures, Part 3

Connecticon 2011 in Pictures, Part 4

Connecticon 2011 in Pictures, Part 5

ConnectiCon 2011 panel: How meta destroyed the anime industry

ConnectiCon 2011 Panel: Confound these Ponies: Rise of My Little Pony fandom