So what did Hideako Anno do after tramping around the Jungian collective unconscious with giant robots, angels and a bunch of emotionally traumatized adolescents that was Neon Genesis Evangelion??
An adapation of a high school romance manga.
Yep, Anno adapted His & Her Circumstances, (or Kare Kano) with nary an existential crisis nor biblical armageddon in sight. His & Her Circumstances explores the relationship between two overachieving high school students. On paper this appears to be an unlikely choice for Anno. However, it is soon revealed that thes two student protagonists have more emotional baggage than Cher on world tour.
Style-wise Anno keeps the clean simple lines of the original manga. Arima’s androgynous quality is a dead give away to the manga’s shouju origins.
What His & Her Circumstances offers Anno is canvas on which to present the complex inner lives of its two protagonists. The internal thoughts of Arima and Miyazawa are presented as almost continual, streaming voiceovers. Anno relishes the task of matching these monologues with a feast of visual techniques to represent their idiosyncratic worldviews: comic book panels, super-deformed characters and split screen. Media moves from pencil to ink, from water color to no color and from static shots of school iconography to live action – Hideaki Anno leaves no visual device unturned.
The various stage of a relationship, from its awkward beginnings, to bloom and the resulting impact on their school lives, is explored in minute detail. While it’s refreshing to see that high school overachievers have doubts, insecurities and problems at home, having the characters tell you their problems rather seeing them manifest in their actions can make them feel like a laundry list rather than a part of their character. If it wasn’t for Anno’s bravura interpretation, this material could easily descend into adolescent navel-gazing angst.
His & Her Circumstances is an example of watching a master at work. One can simply get lost in Anno’s exploration and interpretation of emotional states. If you want a highly original presentation of the high school romance genre that is still is fresh some seven years after its original Japanese release then pick up then His & Her Circumstances.