on September 12, 2003
So what happens in the latest volume of HIS AND HER CIRCUMSTANCES? Well, Yukino is in for a happy surprise when Arima returns from the Nationals, however, she has more than a share of trouble trying to tell him that she loves him. All of a sudden, she starts acting strangely, and inadvertently hurts Arima's feelings by starting to distance herself again. Fortunately, she apologizes and confesses her feelings. What then? The next episode is even better -- we get to see glimpses of Arima's childhood. He is bullied by kids and frowned upon by many family relatives (because they care more about their image and social status than their character), but what's touching is that his parents (or, if you will, his aunt and uncle) stand up for him. This is an interesting thing to come from an animation company who produced a mecha sci-fi series where one nasty lead character is intent on putting anyone down in favor of her own pride. The turning point is where Arima stresses that "I want to make love to you".
Ah, such a typical adolescent ambition. But at the same time, it presents a sequence of events which show how much Arima and Yukino have bonded throughout the series. It's endearing to see that Yukino has matured from her old, contemptuous ways, into something more sociable. Arima, on the other hand, seems to have more than a share of fears. He doesn't want to be rejected because, as mentioned, he is hated by his family members but is loved by those who truly care about him. That both Arima and Yukino are able to recognize each other's flaws, strengths, and desire for perfections is a quality that feels so real, unlike NADIA, where one sweet young boy has to tame an imperfect girl through his love, or EVANGELION, which focuses more on alienation than friendship. It's elements such as this which has made HIS AND HER CIRCUMSTANCES such a delightful show to watch.
Of course, this show is as multifaceted as its characters are, as proven in the third episode. Here, the artwork (production?) puts on a new look. Instead of traditional cel animation, the characters, backgrounds, and special effects all adopt a "paper cutout" style which is so unusual for a series displaying very real situations in school, but this is all the more unique for HIS AND HERS. It's howlingly funny, too; employing a staff member's head for a bully student from Class F and resulting in a parody of a battle from EVANGELION involving Yukino is an absolute knockout. There are also a lot of gags, jokes, sequences, and all other sorts of stuff that will just have one on the floor.
Other real situations are featured in the later episodes. Most particular is the arrival of a new character, Takefumi Tonami, who knew both Arima and Tsubaki Sakura (one of Miyazawa's friends) from childhood. He admires Arima but has somewhat vengeful eyes on Tsubaki. No wonder: he was subject to bullying in childhood, and she contributed a lot to his pain. (Something this reviewer can identify with because he used to be bullied in school, too.) His desire for vengeance is a quality that Yukino somewhat admires, which starts up a new friendship (after a hilarious argument the two get into), but starts to make Arima feel left out. Fortunately, Miyazawa understands how Arima feels and, upon sensing how lonely he feels, does everything she can to reassure him that she loves him dearly. This layout is very similar to Jean's friendship with Electra in NADIA: THE SECRET OF BLUE WATER, in where the former still does his best to show Nadia that he cares about her regardless yet was never jealous of anyone to understand why she was acting so crazy.
The introduction of Tonami also felt less intrusive and uncalled for unlike the disastrous African episodes in NADIA, where Nadia tries to use a stranger for her own purposes while being mercilessly cruel to Jean. This sequence absolutely did not suit the story (can you imagine Nadia getting hearts in her eyes when she's distrustful of others?) and SHOULD have been cut. The same cannot be said of Tonami, however, because, although he is introduced much later on, never once does the show fall apart into character stupidities. In other words, we still feel like we're watching the same show, and not filler stuff forced by studio executives (which was the problem with the African sequence).
That aside, the volume pulls out more laughs to keep one entertained, from the scenes of Asaba and Yukino in classroom meetings, Asaba's somewhat strange attraction to Arima ("No! Don't be nice to other boys!"), and lastly, to Yukino and Maho's invitation by Aya Sawada to participate in a school play. Both try to talk themselves out of it, which leads to a hilarious chase sequence and Yukino realizing that she *could* probably try out. After all, doesn't she have a gift for fooling people?
In short, this fourth volume is better than the third one, offering just the right mixture of serious moments and lighthearted laughs. What a shame it is, however, that this is the penultimate volume, for this is a show that I wish wouldn't end so soon. Sadly, though, no one has control over that.
One thing I forgot to mention is that in the dub, Ed Paul delivers as Tonami, and why the heck is there no music during the previews for the next episodes?
on December 25, 2003
If you're reading a review for Disc 4 of "His and Her Circumstances," you've probably already purchased the first three discs, and will probably buy Discs 4 and 5 anyway. Please, go ahead! I did, and Disc 5 as well.
However, it must be said that the episodes on the fourth disc are not as good as those on the first three discs. The vivacious wit that marked the previous episodes is in much shorter supply here. This is not to say that this disc is unenjoyable. If you liked the previous installments, you'll probably enjoy these too, but these episodes simply are not as winning.
The quality of the technical details, however, is somewhat better. The layout of the menus and such are the same as before, but the quality control problems that plagued the first printings of Disc One seem to be gone. I played the disc completely through, and didn't have any problems.