Monday, May 14, 2012

Kare Kano and His and Her's

Get ready for a blast from the shōjo past. Put away your mp3 player, forget that Arashi was ever popular and take out your baggy white socks. It's time to relive a little 90's shōjo. 

Kare Kano, a classic. How could I even think of getting through this blog without reading and talking about it? Though to be honest, I hadn't even thought about this manga in years. I was at Book off a couple weeks ago with some friends when I saw this out of the corner or my eye and laughed. How nostalgic would it be to post about this manga? I bet a lot of people are going to be jumping on the nostalgia bandwagon after this. Since it had been numerous years since I last read, plus the fact that I never actually finished it either, made me have to do a little digging to find a reader that had it. I am sorry to all the manga publishers out there, but there is just too many good manga to read and not enough money in my back account to buy it all. I DO buy manga, I just didn't buy this one.

So here we go, a blast from the 90's shōjo past with Kare Kano, or His and Her Circumstances.

This manga is a classic shōjo, there is no denying it. The manga community is still spreading this manga around as the great shōjo read that it is and keeps the manga current. It will probably continue to spread along with the likes of Nana. The following that this manga has is large and while it's not as racy as some of the more current shōjo manga, it more than makes up for it with the sheer depth in the characters as they pull themselves through high school.

First I have to say, that I had forgotten that I hadn't actually started liking this manga until I had gotten further in. While Yukino and Souichiro are two characters that are unique in certain points, they are a lot like other shōjo characters. You appreciate Yukino's uniqueness and 2 faced personality, but other than that, she is not really the most striking character. While Souichiro becomes the much more complex and interesting character, changing from the perfect gentleman and perfect human being to a much more intense, dark personality that has been left too long without help.

To me, the further I got into this manga the more obvious it became that Tsuda and this manga had at least some impact on Obata, the mangaka for Bokura Ga Ita. I say this for a couple different parallels I found in the series. There was a good bit this manga that reminded me of Bokura Ga Ita, though I guess that sentence should actually be the opposite since Kare Kano came out years before Bokura did, but the meaning is still the same. While for me, Yukino is a much stronger female lead than Nanami, Motoharu and Souichiro were a lot more alike than they were different. 

The darkness and dysfunctional families aside, Souichiro and Motoharu share the same feeling of lost trust in love. Souichiro was screaming for someone to love and Motoharu was silently yearning for someone to love him. The lying and and hiding these 2 do to other characters is what makes them yearn so much for a person to understand. The other superficial reasons that these two are so similar is that they are the ones who are saved by the girl in the end. Yukino and Nanami are the ones who pull them back, though Yukino was much more forceful and admirable that Nanami in that regard. 

On the other hand, one of the things that I really appreciated about Kare Kano is that it showcased other relationships instead of only Yukino and Souichiro's. All of the side characters showcased some sort of trust issues through the manga, particularly Kazuma and Tsubasa, and actually focusing on their stories helped balance out the sheer amount of build up that was happening between Yukino and Souichiro's relationship. The break in the middle of the volumes that focused on a different couple every volume was a much needed break for me. It also showed how off pace the first half of the manga was. 

In the end, the manga's main connection with Bokura Ga Ita was the emphasis on the dysfunctional Arima family and how that continued family influence moves down from generation to generation. Much like Motoharu, Souichiro's relationship with his family was already influenced by events in the past. Jealousy, disappointment, hurt and resentment all boiled over in the Arima family and caused not one generation but the next to fall under their black webs. The last 5 volumes of this 21 volume manga were the most gripping and also the most complex with the coming together of family stories and also the climax of the dark side of Souichiro. All the secrets and lies were bared for all to see and Souichiro's reactions to them all were the basis of how the manga really ends.

In the end, I was left pondering how much shōjo manga had actually changed in the last 20 years. When I look at the popularity of Ao Haru Ride, Aozora Yell and the new Orange manga, I've been happy to see a new kind of maturity in shōjo that doesn't rely on family circumstances or other drama. They are focusing more on the female main role and her relationship with not just others that surround her, but with herself. I can only hope that this trend continues. 

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