I'm normally not a guy who watches serious anime like this. You know, "slice of life" anime. I don't really like watching cartoons that are supposed to be like real life, that's what dramas and soap opras are for (and everyone knows those shows push "real life" way beyond what's real).
I'm really into this anime, but while it's been out for a while, I've only recently finished watching the show.
The basic plot revolves around the whole Girl meets Boy, Girl and Boy fall in love with each other, Girl and Boy change each other for the better. Miyazawa studies very hard and gets the best grades, athletic, nice, and generally the best in school...even though that's not her true personality, a vain attention-seeker with a generally care-free and lazy attitude. That shows up when Arima transfers in, who puts up a similar facade to hide his traumatizing past, and grabs the attention Miyazawa "fed" on. They find out each other's secret, and turn from enemies to friends to lovers over time. In general, it's pretty standard, but the background behind both characters, and those around them, is actually quite in-depth. What can I say, I'm a sap for a good story, and while general romance animes are generic in their structure, this isn't one of them.
The animation style is definitely faithful to the manga it's based on, random chibi-ness and all. There's a definite comedy element as well, and it shows it in spades. And when things get serious, the art styles really get creative to display the emotions around it.
While typically I prefer the Japanese voice acting over the English (for obvious reasons), surprisingly I actually prefered the English track. I don't know, the voice-overs just "work" for me, though I think they're close enough that you can't really argue too much over which one is better.
The major fault from my eyes: the damn show stops half-way through the series, and it stops at a pretty big cliff-hanger. There's no way you should stop a series at the point that they did, yet it happened and I am severely dissapointed. It did, however, get me to read the manga, and when I picked up from where they stopped...
...and this is where I stop. Read it yourselves, you'll get no spoilers from me! What I say about the anime, I say about the manga multiplied by 3...minus the voice-overs, of course. Whether you start with the Anime first, or read through the manga...let's face it, you're eventually going to read the manga. Just know that the Anime is faithful to the manga. Good luck finding the show online, though: I've come up cold on multiple occasions, and being as old as the show is, you may have a bit of trouble finding it outside a good online seller.