His and Her Circumstances, Volume 4: Formulation of Truth and Sentiment

Matt Brown (Editor in Chief) — June 2nd, 2003
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The fourth volume of Kare Kano brings in a new character and some new surprises, while keeping up with the great entertainment it has provided from the start. Love is in the air, paper cutouts roam the city, Eva battles and high-speed chases ensue, and joy and heartaches abound. Even this far into the show, Kare Kano remains as captivating as it was in the beginning.

Volume four carries an equal share of light and heavy material and brings the main plot back into full swing. Yukino's long wait for Arima's return is coming to an end, but not fast enough. She is counting the days and moping about, and then he ends up returning a bit early to surprise her. The next episode tells of Arima's family, who only care about their image and social status. With the exception of his Aunt and Uncle who take care of him, the rest of the family sees him as a bad seed. His current parents have been his sole emotional support until Yukino came around. The lighter part of the episode is all about summer fun and blooming love. Episode 19 is pure entertaiment, with a competition for the culture fest. The winners get some pretty nifty prizes, one of which Yukino is determined to win. Class F (Hideaki's class) doesn't want Yukino and Class A to get their way, so the competition gets pretty heated. Episode 20 brings in a new character, Takefumi Tonami, who moved back from Okinawa and seems to know both Arima and Tsubaki Sakura. Though he all but worships Arima, he looks at Tsubaki differently. The episode also offers a bit of backstory on him. In episode 21, Aya chases after Yukino and Maho to ask them to star in her play, which she wrote for the culture fest. Despite the fact that Yukino has a natural talent for fooling people, she's not comfortable with acting for the play.

Takefumi Tonari, a new addition to the show in volume four. He has his eye on Tsubaki, but why? Now if this wasn't a precious moment....

This volume brought Yukino and Arima's relationship into the forefront again, which was a welcome change despite the great fun of the previous volume. At first I didn't understand why they would present more information about Arima's relatives, but it all clicked by the end. It helps to explain his forceful behavior when Yukino is (unintentionally) avoiding him to sort her feelings out. Their relationship takes a turn when they reveal to each other that their feelings are greater than before. Once again, I was taken by surprise at how easily I could relate to everything that each character was experiencing. Also surprising was the fact that the introduction of Tonami did not interrupt the flow of the story one bit. I personally liked the heavier material in this volume, for the sole reason that it was too easy to get wrapped up in the fun parts of the show and forget what it was really about. This is not to say that volume four didn't have any great humor to mention, though. Episode 19 (where everyone is preparing for the culture fest) is the funniest I have seen to date, being done completely with paper cutouts. The episode culminates with Yukino telling Arima to strip for the good of the team, and an Evangelion-style battle between Yukino and Class F's "secret weapon". Even the school was a paper cutout. The end of the episode was also funny, when they set the cutouts and cels used to make that episode on fire. There were also other scenes that brought out the humor of life, from Hideaki's weird affection toward Arima to Aya chasing Maho and Yukino around.

In a move which isn't at all surprising, Right Stuf delivered another quality transfer with great extras. The cover of volume four sports a picture of Tsubaki and Takefumi playing basketball. There is no insert to accompany the DVD - as is typical for Right Stuf releases - but once again the extras on the disc itself more than make up for it. Volume four has more character bios: this time featuring Takefumi Tonami, Rika Sena, and Aya Sawada. This volume also has the usual translator notes, and an interview with voice actors Atsuko Enomoto (Yukino Miyazawa) and Chihiro Suzuki (Souichirou Arima). Right Stuf has also kept up the quality of video and audio with this release, as with the previous ones.

In closing, I'd like to mention that the fourth volume felt very different from the previous. While the third volume was a time for reflection, the fourth was a wild ride which caused me to stop and think a few times. This rollercoaster action that the show takes you through is yet another example of how accurate a representation of real life that it is. Sometimes following impulse is desireable whereas sometimes decisions need a little thought, and Kare Kano exposes this duality nicely. The decision to purchase the final volume of the show is not something that needs pondering. Until next time....

Video Quality: A
Audio Quality: A
Presentation: A
Content: A+
Overall: A+