Kare Kano and Blank Slate Arima

Five volumes into the comic book series Kare Kano, how much do we really know about the main guy?  Not much, right?!

It’s fascinating how all sorts of lovely people become, well, fascinated with him.  Miyazawa, Shibahime and Asaba all look up to him as some sort of wondrous existence, but no one really knows him (and they sort of know that they don’t know).

Sure, there’s the fact that he’s good at everything, he’s gentle and he’s handsome.  That should make most people immediately like him, and like him lots.  But I wonder how far what Miyazawa et al see in him is really him and not a projection of qualities they themselves have created.  I felt the same way about the main guy in Marmalade Boy, Yuu.  He was perfect, but didn’t really open himself up and remained a mystery throughout.  I watched the anime expecting to get at some point a glimpse at least of the real core Yuu that emanated such perfection…not the cause of so many people liking him, but the cause of thoughtful individuals like Arimi adoring him so.  I don’t think I ever got that glimpse.

It might be that this is a strategy of shojo mangaka (to allow the readers to infuse the lead character with their own desires), or it might be that as a dull boy I’m missing a particular quality that other readers are imbibing…

I love the Miyazawa family.  I love the portrayal here because even though this is a kid-centered drama, many of the adults get to participate in the story by way of becoming “honorary kids” through the simple fact that their hopes and aspirations are still alive (Miyazawa parents, Shibahime’s dad and Kazuma’s mom).  It’s good for the mangaka to tell the world that not all adults have resigned themselves to monotony and become dead to the world 😀

I love the high school saga.  In particular, it reminds me again of how a co-ed school is to a very large extent really a boys’ school and a girls’ school existing separately under the same roof.  Also, problems arise very quickly and get resolved just as fast.  This is the way it works often in schools.

Finally, I love Maho.  I hope we get to see more of her.  [And maybe here you can deconstruct this post, since I am open to the accusation that I question the characters’ seemingly irrational interest in Arima only to declare interest in character who’s given us much less to be interested about…What can I say??  I like the name, the character design and the half-jaded half-hopeful attitude.]

~ by Haloed Bane on June 1, 2011.

13 Responses to “Kare Kano and Blank Slate Arima”

  1. >Marmalade Boy, Arimi and Yuu
    Wait, what? That’s not in the manga!

    …Oh right, I forgot. The anime (which I never watched) greatly expanded / padded the story.

    I can’t say for sure whether Yuu has enough personality in the manga, perhaps he actually does (it’s been too long since I read it), but a lot of subplots in the anime are original, including Arimi dating Yuu. The manga story is much more simple and modest.

  2. Never mind, I confused Meiko and Arimi. Forget what I said.

    Still, I was quite astonished when I found out how different in tone the anime is from the manga.

    • Meiko and Yuu would have been atrocious 🙂

      Aside from the whole America arc in the anime, I don’t know a lot about differences between the manga and the anime. The whole Yuu-Arimi thing is definitely nicely done in the anime. I totally recommend you to watch it if you have a chance, just don’t watch past episode 40 or so because it’s terrible and even the mangaka is on record as saying it was not good (it’s not based on the manga at all after that point).

  3. The manga will go on a long, dark, Arima arc. So long and so dark that Anno didn’t want any part of it.

    Admittedly it isn’t my favorite part of the story, but that has less to do with how ‘bad’ it is but rather so much to do with how lovable anything that has to do with the Miyazawas are.

    I love Maho too and how she ended up being the best friend.

    Kare Kano is all kinds of love for me.

  4. You’re so lucky. My favourite chapter of Kare Kano is the one that tells Maho’s backstory. I’ve read it, but you get to read it for the first time –

    I love the Miyazawa family too. How many fully functional, happy anime families with both parents alive and all kids above ground are there? OK, a few, but very few. And theirs is the best.

    • The Miyazawas remind me of the megafamily in Marmalade Boy too, happy and fully functional, even though the four parents swapped partners on a trip to Hawaii 😀

      I’m on volume VII, where Maho, Tsubasa and Yukino are about to perform in a play..

  5. I agree, Maho has the best love story among all of them. So look forward to that!

    Arima is pretty much the main character for the majority of the second half of the story; unfortunately I find it a little unfortunately done (very dragged on, that is). Arima’s character actually is the most interesting while the darkness was mostly hinted at, up to volume 9-10.

    > It’s fascinating how all sorts of lovely people become, well, fascinated with him.
    And here I thought you were talking about me! 😀 No, seriously, Arima is perhaps my favorite character of all times, precisely because he is a little bit of a mystery. Basically, Kare Kano is one of the few stories that tell the story of somebody who suffers under his perfect image – normally, especially in shoujo manga, you see myriads of ‘great’ people who are being admired by many, but this greatness is most often reduced to physical beauty. Unlike your typical tall, charming player bad-boy who, for some reason, always takes an interest in the most boring, plain girl in the world, Arima is portrayed as smart, polite and kind person who choses a woman he thought was admirable. This kind of character almost takes the male lead in a shoujo manga, but if he appeared in real life, I know that *I* would go for him. Maybe I project something into Arima too, but he’s always been special to me, and I have never encountered a male character in anime quite like him.

    • In terms of resemblances to other characters, Arima reminds me in many ways of Julus from “Heart of Thomas”. Pretty much the same thing you describe: perfect guy who suffers under his perfect image, and who’s really a good person at heart but tormented. He even looks kinda like Arima. I hope for Arima’s sake his deep dark secret is not as bad a Julus’ though.

      I’ve read eight volumes. I know the Maho thing will get messed up because she keeps mentioning her boyfriend who’s like 10+ years older than her. Hmmm…should be interesting.

      • Ah no no, Maho’s story is mostly very elegant and cute, not like Arima’s story at all. 🙂

        Let*s see… The first thing Juli ever does in “Heart of Thomas” is to coldly dismiss Thomas Werner’s letter openly, but then reads it and feels shocked. One of the first things Arima does is to declare his love for Miyazawa. Whereas Juli has “emo” written all over his face, practically in the same way as every tormented high school character in an old school shoujo, Arima is largely a sane person throughout the first 9 volumes, and it is only hinted that he perceives himself as different from others. Their back stories are entirely different too. Whereas one deals with sexual abuse in school, the other one, well, deals with something completely different. As much as Hideaki Anno might hate it, but Arima is closer to the Neon Genesis Evangelion characters than any other shoujo.
        Ultimately the first impression is probably still the most important: Whereas I always felt irritated at Juli’s behavior, I could totally emphasize with Arima’s. When his dark past was hinted at for the first time in chapter 3, I thought it added depth to him. Until his story dragged on, I thought he was pretty realistic, as much as a manga character can be.

        • Hmm, I see. Thanks for your restraint!

          I’ll get to read all of this soon enough..

          BTW, I’ll be done with Versailles very soon. I’ll probably pick up Kodocha next.

  6. maho is the best! tsubasa and her are my faves.

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