by Masami Tsuda; adaptation by Darcy Lockman
published by Tokyopop; $9.99 US
Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances attracted me because of its lead character. Yukino is top of her class in just about everything until Soichiro, a similarly over-achieving boy, comes to her school. She learns to deal with her jealousy of him and her own growing self-awareness of the motivations driving her success.
Their rivalry becomes love within a few books, after which the story turns to their friends, which is where I began losing track of the characters. A whole group of gal pals was introduced at once, and through the rest of the volumes I tried (I read up to book 7) I got several of them confused.
Less attention is also paid to making them fully three-dimensional characters. A character chart at the beginning of each book would have been a big help, but the only extra material is one “story so far” page and the occasional author comments about her reading or hobbies.
I’m glad that the writer didn’t break up Yukino and Soichiro just for drama, so I didn’t mind seeing other people’s stories, but I would have enjoyed them more if I’d been more comfortable with who they all were. I also worry a bit that Yukino’s obsessive studying and self-improvement wasn’t replaced with an interest of her own; instead, she finds her own value in her love for Soichiro. There’s nothing wrong with replacing focus on oneself with learning to care for others, but it moves Yukino away from being the book’s central character as her friends are developing their own individual talents.
Currently, the series is at least 18 volumes. When a series gets up into the double digits, I really have to be enjoying it to sign on for that length, and I wonder about the author possibly padding just to continue the property. If I liked more of the supporting cast in their own right, I’d be more eager to keep reading. As it is, the only one that really grabbed me was Soichiro, and with the focus widening, I’m no longer as interested.