I was in middle school when I first got ahold of Volume 1 of Masumi Tsuda’s Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou, often shortened to Kare Kano and released in English as His and Her Circumstances (or Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances for the manga). The award-winning series details the lives of two outwardly “perfect” honor students, Yukino Miyazawa and Soichiro Arima, as they accidentally uncover one another’s imperfections, fall in love, and agree to be true to themselves.
When I read Ranma ½ during my first year of high school, I fell in love with Rumiko Takahashi’s signature expressive art. I loved her colorful cast just as much, always getting caught up in over-the-top situations. Like many people, I remember it fondly. Yet the older I get, the harder it is to ignore some of the most problematic aspects of the series, especially how it deals with femininity.
I first ran into Cross Ange when my husband tried to hide that he was watching it. Knowing I’m a feminist, he assumed I would be scandalized by the cheapness and frequency of the show’s fanservice. He wasn’t exactly wrong. The fanservice in Cross Ange begins before the opening credits on the first episode, and doesn’t stop until the main character spends most of the final episode completely nude. In between, she fights dragons on a giant robot. What’s not to love?
Yes, really. I imagine at least some of you took one look at the title I chose and ran as fast as possible in the other direction. Others might be reading on with some vague sense of contempt, for me or for one of the most infamous anime titles out there, propelled out of obscurity more because of its grisly ending and the circumstances surrounding it than anything else. Even I feel it – I’m compelled to show my bona fides to you, to say that my favorite anime titles are Utena, The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, and Gankutsuou. Real capital-A artsy stuff, right? Things a critic can feel legitimate writing about. But that doesn’t change my deep-down, ugly love for School Days. I couldn’t be happier that School Days exists.