His and Her Circumstances
Format: 26 Episodes
Released: 10/2/1998 to 3/26/1999
Written by: Face
Studio Gainax is known for their remarkably ambitious and introspective character studies. Evangelion showed the world that animation can be just as psychologically perceptive as live-action, and in some ways even more prominent. His and Her Circumstances, on the other hand, shows us exactly how caustic overbearing redundancy can be.
The story presents us with two characters: Miyazawa, and Arima. They are both at the top of the freshman class not only academically, but socially standing as well. Miyazawa secretly resents Arima for intruding on her turf. Ever since she was little, she adored praise from others, and relished in her own pretentious pomposity as often as she could. However, little do her classmates know that she is nothing more than a conniving phony. In reality, she is not a "model student", and will do anything to keep that knowledge a secret. Through a series of extremely odd events, Arima ivadvertently finds out about her secret life, putting Miyazawa in a very troublesome situation.
Albert Einstein has been quoted as saying "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." Certainly, I am not suggesting that the director, Anno Hideaki, is insane, not at all. However, what I am suggesting is that he iteratively structured the episodes, "[generating] heat instead of progress." Whole slews of verbose soliloquies are used to exaggerate the characters' pasts, and blatantly predispose future headways. Portions, and in a few cases, entire episodes are wasted only to give a summary of what has previously happened; other times, large segments of animation are replaced with cardboard cut-outs interspersed with low quality still images as backgrounds. Is it creative? Well, kind of. More importantly, is it productive or even remotely clever? No, it certainly is not, but rather, tiresome and aggravating. Their wantonness and short-sighted attempt to extend the series to 26 episodes ends up overwhelming everything that they succeeded in doing properly.
However, the intrigue involved with Miyazawa and Arima was more than enough for me to become interested (for the first half of the series that is). As they evolve from enemies, to friends, to a couple, and finally to lovers, it becomes more and more of a testament to the power of serendipity, and a sweet one at that. Their kooky and sometimes farcical adventures are absolutely hilarious, especially those with Arima's premiscuous friend Asaba. In the genre of Shoujo, you don't get much better than this.
In all honesty, if you are looking for the most enjoyable experience, I suggest that you stop watching at around episode 13 - 16. The second half of the series is more of a progressive breakdown that eventually entirely collapses. Considering there is no ending, but rather an abrupt cessation declaring "to be continued", you could stop watching at almost any point, and not miss out on much that you haven't already figured out for yourself.
Despite the countless amounts of blundering otaku praising Anno Hideaki, His and Her Circumstances is not the be all end all of romantic comedies, not even close. It lacks just as much as it has. However, for most people, it will be a wonderful experience, and I suggest you give it a shot.
* * * (Average)
Posted: February 7, 2004