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Title Kareshi Kanojou no Jijou "Act 1.0"
Company King Records
Running Time 70min 8sec
Catalog # KICA-440
Price ¥3059
Street Date 12.23.98

Japanese titles are in the Blue.
English titles are in the White.
1 Abaso Taitoru
2 Tenshi no Yubikiri
Angel Fingernail Clippings
3 Koremade no Arasuji
The Story so Far
4 Miyazawa Yukino I (Concerto)
5 Miyazawa Yukino II (March)
6 Hibi Heiwa
Daily Peace
7 Heion Buji
Peace and Good Health
8 Seisa Takuma
9 Tenka Taiei
World Peace
10 Eshajouri
We Never Meet Without Parting
11 Arima Souichiro I
12 Arima Souichiro II
13 Yume no Naka E II
Into the Dream II
14 Miyazawa Ikka
Miyazawa's Family
15 Shokakutentou
Very Soon the Tables Were Turned
16 Miyazawa Yukino III (Jazz Rock)
17 Kyouson Kyouei
Coexistence for Mutual Prosperity
18 Miyazawa Yukino IV (Canon)
19 Miyazawa Yukino V (Nocturne)
20 Futou Fukutsu
21 Yume no Naka E III
Into the Dream III
22 Ichigoichie
23 Yume no Naka E
Into the Dream
24 Koremade no Arasuji
The Story So Far

by Scott Rider

It seems Gainax had another project up their collective sleeve to follow the Evangelion cash cow. For some reason this studio is adored almost out of proportion by anime fans, as if the otaku-become-animation studio were the vindication of every "hardcore" fan's idle daydream to become the anime creators and rise above their fellow fans. The irony here, however, is that Anno Hideaki--the writer/director for Eva--has done his best to try and wean fans of this fantasy. Leading by example, Gainax moved on to something new and October of 1998 brought a new show to Japanese TV Screens: Kareshi Kanojou no Jijou [A Boyfriend/Girlfriend Situation], based on the manga series published in Lala and directed by Anno.

If the reviewer had to pick two words to describe the essence of this show they would be: Ally McBeal. Both shows make extensive use of interior monologue that somehow becomes a visual projection of the characters' thoughts. The story of "KareKano" is essentially that of the shallow and precocious Yukino Miyazawa, a girl who for appearance's own sake tries to be the model student and "accidental" darling of the school. She learns of another immaculate student in the school, a boy named Souichiro Arima. Unsatisfied that she might end up in the ghastly position of second-best she vows to become his rival. As it turns out, he too has a life rather different from surface appearances, and his own words perhaps best describe the gist of the show: "that which was hidden inside of me has reached out and found that which was hidden inside of you." (The reviewer recommends the first four episodes as a sort of KareKano "movie". Even if one never watches any further, this opening chapter makes a wonderful story by itself).

The many wild mood swings in the show have a good bit of careful direction applied. In fact, this is what Anno is best at: directing a story. The scene cuts and stills of simple things like rain showers and washed pencil drawings are very effective. Of course, there is another equally important component in setting the feel of these scenes, and that is the music--lots of music. The first soundtrack alone is comprised of 24 tunes spanning over 70 minutes and involve styles ranging from a high-school marching band to blues to a great if somewhat whacky 1970s primetime TV theme sound.

The opening theme, Tenshi no Yubikiri, is pretty typical of TV anime opening songs based on high-school drama. The arrangement is light and lively, and the singer's vocals are clear. Tracks 3 through 5, sound just like some high school symphony concert, with the tunes lending an almost Tom-and-Jerry type of detached slapstick feel to the scenes. Which makes sense, given that they're the musical themes for Yukino herself. Starting with track 6, however, the disc enters a distinctly "Odd Couple" state of sound that lasts through the end of track 9. If one can recall the Odd Couple movie/TV show from the early 1970s, then this music fits perfectly. These tracks all have titles related to living in peace--quite a reverse from the true nature of the show's situations.

Of course what would be a shoujo anime series without lots of angst, which the pattering piano ballads on tracks 10, 11 and 12 convey with a subtle kind of insistence. Each is short and somewhat melancholy--though very nicely so--and serve to represent Arima's quiet character rather well. An instrumental version of the series ending theme is presented on track 13 with a light, folksy attitude. Then, what can only be described as the Dating Game-inspired "doo-wop" theme is heard on track 14. Starting with this, the music begins to travel all over the modern music timeline. Track 15 pays another visit to Felix and Oscar in their Manhattan "Odd Couple" penthouse, complete with muted trumpet and vibes solos.

But track 16! This is one of the gems of the soundtrack. Take Meco Monardo--let's just see who remembers *that* name from the 1970s--who was the 1977 disco Star Wars theme song arranger (remember the Suzanne Ciani R2D2 synthesizer noises made on a Don Buchla model 400 synthesizer?) and have him score an episode of another Jack Klugman show (remember, Klugman was also in the Odd Couple TV series) and have Klugman's character wake up an amnesiac and think he's a spy out to rescue Charlie's Angels and you have the theme music for: Quincy, M.E.--International Man of Mystery! This track is great! It manages to compress everything about primetime TV theme music in the mid 1970s into four minutes! One has at least got to feel just a bit nostalgic after hearing this.

A great, though short, blues track follows; it is something of a long, wailing saxophone cadenza but very alluring in its suggestiveness. Immediately following is a very Victorian string quartet track and another of those painfully sweet piano ballads. Track 20 flips the pages to the early 1960s, where one envisions a drive-in, the 1963 split-window Corvette, and "doo-wop-a" so on. Track 21 is a slow ballad version of the ending theme, and actually sounds a bit more emotional (this is an emotional show, after all). Finishing out the set are the Satie-esque piano of track 22, the as-seen-on-TV version of "Yume no Naka E" and the short but intense Carol Burnett show "next week's show" catch piece.

Its hard to imagine that this collage of tunes took 70 minutes to play once its over. The music catches one off guard so many times through the playlist that it strains one's time sense. KareKano is supposed to be the result of surveying Japanese high-schoolers about their social and romantic quirks and desires, and if ever such a show got the musical support it was asking for, it is this one. Not for everyone, to be sure, but for those that are into nostalgia, shoujo, or just thinks Gainax is "cool", here's your CD.



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