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You get a lot of insight on the rocky and difficult road relationships take in Japan.
Review by Matthew Anderson
8 episode OVA series + 1 movie
Running Time: 270 minutes (8 30 minute episodes and 1 70 minute movie)
Rating:PG-13 (Adult situations and Brief nudity)
Kyosuke is torn between two lovers, and he can't make up his mind. On the one hand, there is Hikari, a cute energetic girl who is totally hung up on her "Darling". On the other, there is Madoka, a total fox with a sharp mind. While she pretends not to have strong feelings for Kyosuke, deep in her heart, she loves him to death.
Kyosuke has other problems as well, like studying for the college entrance exams and being "blessed" with psychic powers. While his powers do come in handy once in a while, most of the time, they are a nuisance. From switching souls to attracting vengeful ghosts, it seems that Kyosuke is doomed to have a very abnormal life.
Yet, just when he least expects it, fate comes knocking. For Kyosuke, the time to decide his destiny has come. He must make a choice, or loose the one he truly loves forever.
DVD VISION TEST
VIDEO: AnimEigo has done a fine job of transferring this classic anime to DVD. The colors are solid, with no color bleeding, wrinkles, or pixels to be seen. The image is sharp and the washed out look of the original video is gone. In the opening segment, all of the nicks and scratches are supposed to be there.
AUDIO: The original Japanese 2.0 audio track is pretty sharp and clear, almost like new. There is no mono hiss, but there is a limited surround sound mix.
EDITS: Not a single frame has been edited. The original
open and close are still there, with optional subtitles.
EXTRAS: None on the first two discs. On the third, there is a picture gallery, and original trailers for two of the OVA episodes. There are also liner notes cards in the box, mostly with song lyrics.
STORY: Based off of the manga by Izumi Matsumoto, Kimagure Orange Road is an often funny, and very cute romantic anime. Similar in vein to other "wacky" classics like Urusei Yatsura and Ranma 1/2. At times a romantic comedy, at times slapstick, the team of writers do a good job of balancing the two (the movie being the exception).
ACTING: The cast of Kimagure Orange Road are all veteran voice actors. From the very sexy voice of Hiromi Tsuru, to the sweet and indecisive sounding Toru Futuya, the quality of their acting is unsurpassed. Even the shrill Eriko Hara does a fantastic job.
FAN SERVICE: Plenty, yet tame. It's all bras, panties, and swimsuits. There are a couple of brief (and I do mean brief) butt shots.
As far as references to other anime, well let's just say that you need to pay attention.
I love 80's anime. However, my tastes for that era run closer to shows like Dirty Pair and Macross. Much like Urusei Yatsura, I had no interest in watching Kimagure Orange Road. Knowing that it was another "boy has to decide which girl to be with" anime was the main reason I didn't want to watch it. After watching and enjoying the advanced preview of TOKYOPOP's "Marmalade Boy", I decided that this was the best time to try check it out.
I should learn to trust AnimEigo more. Defying logic, I wound up enjoying a romantic comedy... for the most part. While the box starts off strong, the movie is a weak finish.
KOR does have a lot of charm, despite the cliché plot. You have Kyosuke, so indecisive on who he wants to be with, he constantly misses the obvious. He loves Madoka, yet he fails to notice that she has feelings for him. He misses the fact that Hikaru doesn't just love him, she obsesses over him. Naturally, the indecisiveness of the main character is what makes shows like this and Tenchi Muyo so enjoyable.
I do like that in some ways, KOR is like "Charmed" or "Buffy", only not as dark. Kyosuke's entire family, from his grandpa to his cousins, all have some form of psychic ability. Like the before mentioned shows, the focus isn't about their abilities, but how their powers can affect their lives. Kyosuke's greatest fear isn't deciding who to be with, it's what the revelation of his powers will affect his friends and family. Most of the time, it's played for laughs. Sometimes, the family "curse" does help a tense or dangerous situation.
You get a lot of insight on the rocky and difficult road relationships take in Japan. In a country that doesn't allow public displays of affection, how can you convince people that you and your man are a couple? Adding to that is the fact that there is a lot of pressure to have a "boyfriend" or "girlfriend", but not sleep with them. While they all may say that you should "do it" with your lover, the idea embarrasses the hell out of them. These double standards, combined with not being able to "proclaim" your love for fear of rejection would make any man (or woman) nuts. No wonder Kyosuke can't decide.
Consisting of 6 stand alone episodes, one two part episode, and a movie, this box set is basically the "end" of the series. While the resolution may not be tidy, it does end the way it should.
The first OVA volume is the best. "I was a Cat, I was a Fish" is the funniest of the 4. The absurd tale of "soul switching" with it's high amount of slapstick humor will leave you smiling. I found "Hurricane! Akane the Shape changing Girl" interesting , due to inclusion of an openly gay character. "White Lovers" is cute, but "Hawaiian Suspense" is cuter, with Madoka speaking English.
The second disc is a little more "mushy" with the two part "Stage of Love" story line. Once again Kyosuke is in the middle of things when he literally collides with a male "idol" singer. Naturally, this accident enables both men to learn the true meaning of love.
The return of Akane in "An Unexpected Situation" is an all to brief return to the high jinks of the first volume. This time, Akane is trying to prove that she isn't a lesbian to her friends. This forces her to take some pretty drastic measures, and in return, shows us the hell of dating in Japan.
"Message in Rouge" is, frankly, a dull story about a simple and innocent misunderstanding. It has nothing to do with the overall plot, and it's mostly Madoka moping.
The best part of this disc is hearing the awesome voice of Yuiko Tsubokura during the concert. I fell in love with her voice on the "Bubblegum Crisis OVA", and I was glad to hear it again.
The last disc was the other major disappointment. "I Want to Return to That Day" is the final resolution to the Kyosuke, Madoka, and Hikaru love triangle. Going about 30 minutes too long, it dumps the "cute and mushy" feel of the previous discs. Instead we have a pretty standard exercise in the romance genre. Kyosuke makes his decision. The one he chooses is very happy, naturally. The one he "dumps", takes things too far, and basically stalks him. Not in the creepy "Single White Female" way, but the pathetic, looser way.
Conspicuously absent is any mention or use of Kyosuke's psychic powers. You would figure that he could come up with some way to use them to make things right. I guess not.
Even though I didn't like the movie, I had a good time with the "Kimagure Orange Road" OVA/Movie box set. Well deserving the title of classic, KOR will keep you entertained with it's humor, and sweetness.
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