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Yukino Miyazawa is a gifted high school student lauded by classmates and teachers. This apparent brilliance, however, is mainly used as a means to garner praise. At home, Yukino is spoiled and slovenly.

When a new student, Soichiro Arima, proves himself the equal of Yukino, her narcissistic edifice is threatened with collapse, so she begins to plot Arima's downfall, whilst maintaining an air of friendship with him. A chance encounter leads Arima to discover Yukino's secret and romance begins to blossom... as they both learn to just be themselves.

Kare Kano originated as a manga by Shoujo author Masami Tsuda, later being adapted to anime by Studio Gainax, directed by Hideaki Anno, of Evangelion fame. The anime began as a faithful adaptation of the manga, if somewhat quirkier in style. Halfway through the story the anime takes a completely different direction from the manga, which eventually led to its inconclusive ending, while the manga went on for 21 volumes. The manga version then explores the several parallel lives of supporting characters, as well as the main characters' pasts (and even their families' pasts).

Known in English as Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances. The full Japanese title is Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou, which means just "His and Her Circumstances."

Tropes used in Kare Kano include:
  • Adaptation Distillation: As with Kodocha, the anime team blended in enough screwball comedy to keep the romantic aspects from getting too saccharine.
    • Which is why the anime got canceled after one season — Masami Tsuda despised what Gainax did to it.
  • Alpha Bitch: Maho starts as this, but soon she steps out of the role.
  • Always Someone Better: How Yukino views Arima at first. He, on the other hand, is too smitten by her to even notice it.
    • Yukino is this to Maho and the latter acknowledges it.
  • Aspect Montage
  • Author Appeal: Not very noticeable at first, but by the end of the manga, the story was slewing from one story the author wanted to tell to another — trouble was, they were only tangentially related to the main characters the readers cared about.
  • Babies Ever After: the ending.
  • The Baby Trap: In the manga, this was how Souichiro Arima was conceived and born.
  • Balloon Belly: Happens to Yukino in Episode 5.
  • Becoming the Mask: Yukino wore her mask of perfection for so long that even when she decided not to put on a fake persona anymore, she discovered that her true personality had become like the mask just less perfect.
    • Arima also wore a mask of perfection, and a few more under the first one. This became an issue in later chapters because the stress of it was slowly destroying his life socially and emotionally.
  • Beneath the Mask: Arima is insanely scared of what's beneath his.
  • Berserk Button: Mistake Tsubasa for a Middle Schooler and she'll explode. No really.
    • Hurt Yukino and Souichirou will retaliate — in plain sight of the school advisor and without consequence.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Arima may seem the perfect boyfriend — good-looking, caring, chivalrous, understanding — but it becomes clear quite soon that he has... issues. And there's Rika, who at the age of five managed to hit a boy some five years older with a baseball bat, and make him stop bullying her best friend Aya's older brother.
    • Rika even manages to stop Aya, Tsubaki and Tsubasa from messing around on a train with a few words and a very dangerous glare. This is after Soichirou has given up on pulling them into line himself.
  • Bifauxnen: Maho in Steel Snow
    • Also Yukino in the same play. Tsuda even lampshades it by commenting how, during the play, Yukino's shoulders broadened and her breasts flattened for some inexplicable reason.
  • Bishonen: Hideaki Asaba and Soichiro Arima.
  • Black Sheep: What Arima is considered by his entire family, save for his aunt and uncle.
  • Book and Switch: Done by Yukino, to hide a comedic book behind a more serious one.
  • Broken Ace: Arima, very much so.
    • Yukino is as well, but a far milder version.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Kazuma and Tsubasa. Well, sort of, since they're step-siblings. Kazuma is the first to fall in non-step-sibling love with Tsubasa but eventually the feelings are mutual. Their parents are briefly surprised, but completely supportive.
    • They also met in their mid-teens, so really there's nothing all that sibling like in their relationship.
  • Cast Herd
  • Child Prodigy: Arima (who else) is mentioned to have been one.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Asaba.
  • Class Representative: Yukino and Arima.
  • Class Trip: In the manga, the characters get to go to Kyoto in a class trip.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Tsubasa Shibahime, when introduced.
  • Clip Show: That lasts 1 and 1/2 episodes.
  • Club President: Arima, too.
  • Cut Short: The anime ran into even more of the problems with deadlines and budgets that plagued later episodes of Evangelion. It was cut short due to Tsuda's dissatisfaction with the later episodes.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Reiji.
  • Demon Head
  • Distant Finale: The manga.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Including but not limited to the entire Arima family, as wells as much of the main cast.
  • Ear Worm: In-universe version — In Episode 6, after Yukino and Souichirou share an emotion-charged hug, Yukino is left alone when Souichirou leaves to clear his head. To her horror, a song she really hates starts playing in her head.
    • The song is SOS by the 1970s' pop band Pink Lady. Yukino's hating of the song has to do with the lyrics (making it a Bilingual Bonus for those who understand them when the song plays).
  • Evil Matriarch: In the manga, Arima's mother Ryouko. Also a Manipulative Bitch.
    • Eiko, Arima's aunt, also applies, though it is later explained that she had a difficult family life which is why she resents her brother (Arima's adoptive father Shoji) and his family so much.
  • Faceless Masses
  • Fake Band: The Yin & Yang, where Kazuma is the lead singer. Their supposed amazing and revolutionary sound gets away from being shown because they only appear in the manga (and for five minutes in the anime).
  • Flirty Stepsiblings: Tsubasa and Kazuma.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: See Shout-Out below.
  • Gainax the last episode, and you will HUNGER for Gainax blood...
  • Gecko Ending: A plot-unrelated ending coupled with not finishing the original arc, apparently due to Creative Differences of the manga author.
  • Generation Xerox: In the manga, it's shown that Yukino looks almost identical to her mother at the same age. Later, Arima ends up both looking and sounding just like his father.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: When Soichiro and Yukino finally consummate their relationship, the following pagers make it look like they just did the sexual equivalent of redeeming the souls of mankind.
  • Happily Adopted: Soichiro.
  • Happily Married: Yukino's parents and Soichiro's adoptive parents. Also Kazuma's mother and Tsubasa's father later.
  • He Is All Grown Up: Takefumi much to Tsubaki's disappointment.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Arima and Asaba, especially in the noticeably darker-in-tone second half of the manga.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: In the English dub, Yukino is voiced by ASH FREAKING KETCHUM! And, more accurately for this series, May. There are some moments where her voice slips into Ash.
    • And for a bit of unintentional hilarity, Rachel Lillis plays Yukino's mom in almost the exact same tone as her Jessie voice (albeit much nicer). She also uses her Misty voice for the nondescript school girls.
    • One can easily hear Tracey Sketchit, voiced by Ed Paul, in the voice of one of the students in Episode 2 and in the character of Takefumi.
  • Hidden Depths: Asaba Hideaki, resident Chivalrous Pervert and Arima's extremely supportive best friend. It's not until the very last tankobon that the reader finds out about his awful relationship with his Jerkass family and the loneliness it brings.
  • Hot Dad: Yukino's father Takashi. Also, Tsubasa's father (lampshaded when Yukino meets him and is absolutely starry-eyed at how handsome Mr. Shibahime is. The same also happens with Arima's biological father Reiji.).
  • Hot Mom: Yukino's mother, Miyako.
    • Ryouko, Arima's mother is another, manipulative bitchiness aside.
  • Ho Yay: Arima and Asaba have their moments...
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes
  • Let Her Grow Up Dear: Takashi's attitude toward his sweet little Yukino, and her mother's reaction, are textbook examples.
  • Lost in Translation: The full Japanese title is a bit of a double entendre; "Kareshi" means "His" and "Kanojo" means "Her," but they also respectively mean "Boyfriend" and "Girlfriend."
  • Loudspeaker Truck
  • Manipulative Bastard: Arima (initially) after finding out Yukino's secret.

 Arima: What else am I supposed to do? I'm far too busy and you're the perfect person to do my work for me.

Yukino: Bastard!

Arima: You're going to be very useful. Well, I won't force you to do it. If you don't want to, just say so. That is, if you have that kind of courage.

Yukino: *teeth clench* You scheming bastard.

  • May-December Romance: Maho and her much-older boyfriend.
  • Medium Blending
  • No Smoking: Played for laughs many times in the Manga, where in the series resident Author Avatar is smacked around by Yukino for smoking, as well as the series resident Yamato Nadeshiko.
  • Official Couple
  • Older Than They Look: Tsubasa, who at fifteen was confused with a middle-schooler by her younger stepbrother.
    • And Yukino's parents, who don't look they're nearing 40.
  • Onee-Sama: Yukino's "facade"
  • Parental Abandonment: Arima is the biggest case, but there are several others.
  • Pettanko: Sakura Tsubaki, resident Tomboy, is proud to admit she has no boobs at all.
  • Pinky Swear
  • Portmanteau Series Nickname: See intro.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: The ending, "Yume no Naka e", released by Yousui Inoue in 1973 and made known to the generation that watched the show by Yuki Saitou in 1989. Arguably Covered Up again for overseas anime fans, who only know it as "the duet from Kare Kano".
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Yukino is the red, Soichiro is the blue.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Episode 10 of the anime; when Tsubasa goes a BIT too far in her vendetta against Yukino...and incurs Yukino's wrath.
  • Sacred First Kiss
  • School Idol: Yukino works hard to maintain this status.
  • School Play
  • Shojo
  • Shout-Out: To Hideaki Anno's own Neon Genesis Evangelion in episode 11 of the anime. When Yukino begins to think of people she's met in the past to compare another person to, a quick use of the freeze-frame feature on one's DVD player reveals images of Misato, Kaji, Asuka, Shinji, Rei, and Toji, amongst others. Then later on when she's taunted by the president of a rival class, an imaginary segment has her she growing to the size of a building and looking and sounding very much like a berserk EVA.
    • In episode 1 Yukino is shown hunched over holding something in her palms, in a pose that is virtually a carbon copy of Rei when she holds Lilith's egg. In the same episode J. S. Bach's "Air" is playing in the background at one point (a piece used in NGE).
    • Then in episode 23, as Yukino gets on a bicycle with Arima, she starts the process with a close-up on Yukino's eyes (ala Shinji), and says "Unit One", ala Evangelion.
  • Slasher Smile: Yukino Miyazawa sported a few of these
  • The Snark Knight: Maho Isawa.
  • Stepford Smiler: Both Yukino and Arima. She does it to be praised and get everyone's love and admiration, he does it to hide his problems.
  • Tomboy: Tsubaki.
  • Two-Faced: Yukino is this at the beginning, but grows out of it. Soichiro deals with it for most of the manga.
    • Interesting in the fact that while Yukino's dual life is played for laughs, Soichiro's is much more nightmare fuel and causes him to be wildly self-destructive.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Tsubasa and, interestingly, we see the effects it has on her.
  • V-Formation Team Shot
  • Wife Husbandry: Asaba, in regards to Yukino and Arima's daughter Sakura. He tries to back off years later, but she will have nothing of it.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: in the early volumes, Yukino's little sister Kano would frequently give her advice about her social and love life.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Subverted: Tsubasa tries it on Yukino, but Arima isn't fooled one bit.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Shizune, Arima's adopted mother, pulls off all aspects of this perfectly. This includes the "hidden steel" part of the trope, when she ends up coordinating with Yukino to get a chance to deliver a beatdown on Arima's abusive biological mother. Rika is clearly one in training.