I recently re-read Kare Kano, for the 4th time in my life — all 21 volumes of it.
I remembered the plotline. I remembered the characters. Yet I couldn’t help but feel mesmerized once more. It shocked me that every time I read this beloved series, I encountered a different experience, felt a different emotion bloom.
It wasn’t story inconsistency. It was a change in the appreciation and understanding of life.
When I was down and depressed, when I recently graduated and was reliving memories, when I was settling into a new house with friends, when I’m lost before the next stage of life. Each time I re-read this series, my situation varied; the people I knew varied.
Each time I re-read this series, I emphasized with different characters and the different life problems they faced.
Sometimes I felt more heartfelt reading Yukino learning that academics wasn’t the only thing to being the student. Sometimes I understood more towards Arima’s intense emo desolation that crept beneath his mask of perfection. This time, the path that struck out most personally was Tonami’s overbearing parents who kept prodding him to follow their desires, and his own desire to walk a path less conventional through life.
It made me realize: the truest of favorites weren’t just well-written, intellectual, or enjoyable, but because they appealed to our very heart and soul in some way. It was personal. It was nearly explicable, because any attempt to portray through mere words would seem an injustice.
(I remember some people explaining a similar sensation with Revolutionary Girl Utena.)
…And thus, they’ll remain favorites no matter how much time passes, or how many times we relive the experience.
For me, Kare Kano will always remain a top favorite, and I will always be proud of it. Because for such a genre most shrugged off as being merely ‘shoujo’, this series was built around characters worthy of being role models. They enlisted the aid of friends and lovers, but they never relied upon it — independent and self-achieving. They were driven by unique, personal dreams and goals as they struggled through life’s most common problems.
(With the exception of Tsubasa =P)
Masami Tsuda will always be someone I look up to in my writing, in my characterization.