Kimagure Orange Road: Summers Beginning (of 1) (

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, August 21, 2001
Release Date: Tuesday, August 21, 2001

What They Say
A near-fatal traffic accident sends 19 year-old Kyosuke Kasuga spinning three years forward in time, where his future self is missing and presumed dead.

It's a race against time to find the missing 22 year-old Kyosuke and return the 19 year-old version to his proper time before he dies. To make matters worse, Kyosuke stumbles across the vivacious Hikaru, recently returned to Japan, whose feelings for him haven't changed.

Now, on top of everything else, he's faced with the added task of remaining true to his beloved Madoka.

Will love triumph over all obstacles? Or will the relationship so painstakingly built unravel? Only time will tell in the most unique love story ever filmed, New Kimagure Orange Road: Summer's Beginning!

Contains Brief Nudity and Mature Situations. Parental Guidance is Suggested.

The Review!
Wow, that was simply beautiful.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this movie in its original language of Japanese. The show is primarily a stereo mix that's focused on the dialogue, so a lot of it is very much center channel based. Dialogue is clean and we didn't notice any distortions or dropouts throughout it. The show makes good use of the music for ambient effect as well as some of the more action oriented sequences.

For the most part, this is a very good transfer. I was concerned right at the start as it looked like there was a lot of artifacting going on. The opening sequences have Kyosuke in Bosnia, which I realized meant they were using a particular style similar to how Baghdad looked on CNN during the Gulf War, with the brightly lit green skies. These sequences showed this quite well and went away as soon as they shifted around to other places. There's one or two areas that exhibit just a bit of blockiness, but otherwise artifacting like that is minimal. And other than the bit of softness here and there, the only thing that crept up throughout the show is some minor rainbowing along some edges and the like.

The moment I had seen the cover art for this release, I fell in love. It's simply a gorgeous piece of artwork with what I consider my ideal anime woman, wearing the red hat no less. The entire layout just works perfectly for me here. The back cover provides the continuation of the front, with some blue tinted artwork melded into it with a few screenshots of the menus. There's a brief summary of the show as well as the usual technical details. The insert provides a piece of artwork of the three main characters with no accompanying clutter text while the disc itself is wonderfully silkscreened with a variant of the front cover.

With little on the disc outside of the standard fare, the menus are pretty simple with static artwork (again, seen on the cover and insert) with some music playing along. The menus are nice and fast.

Unfortunately, there are no extras.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This movie is incredibly easy to recommend. This movie is incredibly hard to recommend.

Kimagure Orange Road is made up of 40-odd episodes, six OVA's and one movie. The OVA's take place during various parts of the TV series and the movie brings the entire thing to completion. This movie, Summer's Beginning, is what I'd consider an epilogue to the series.

Some people can get a lot of enjoyment by just checking out the end of the series. I've done that with novels and then backtrack. I can't do it with anime though. For those who've seen the entire series and the movie, this particular film takes a lot of that, and with its basis as a novel, expands on it and brings it to an even more satisfying conclusion than the original movie. So basically consider the remainder of this review spoiler-ridden if you have any intention of watching the TV series and other releases.

With Kyosuke and Madoka firmly an item at age 19, and very much in love, we're re-introduced to them as a couple during their college time. Kyosuke's become a fair bit braver than he used to be, and it shows in how he interacts with Madoka. The two plan for a rather big date due to Kyosuke doing so well with a particular contest, so his mind is all flustered by the potential.

We're also introduced to Kyosuke at age 22, where he's a student photojournalist whose caught up in the firestorm that became Bosnia in 1994. We watch as he runs along with the United Nations soldiers through the crumbling bombed out city as more shells continue to fall and the bullets continue to fly.

Through a coincidence, and based on the strong psychic powers that Kyosuke has, an accident occurs in both times. In 1991, Kyosuke finds himself the victim of a car accident, getting hit by an oncoming vehicle even after he was mysteriously warned earlier that morning. In 1994, he finds himself the victim of an incoming barrage of shells. The timing of the events with his powers causes the 1991 Kyosuke to jump into 1994, and for the 1994 Kyosuke to jump into a place in-between time and space where nothing exists.

The 1991 Kyosuke now finds himself in a time where things are the same but different. His residence has changed to someplace he doesn't know, old friends he comes across are in different positions and he even finds his love, Madoka, being courted by his old rival Hisakawa. Kyosuke tries to figure out what's going on, but every time he gets close to being able to do something, he gets dizzy and finds himself teleporting to a place on the 100 stairs.

While out and about in the city trying to figure out what's going on, Kyosuke ends up coming across Hikaru Hiyama, whom he hadn't seen for over a year after their emotional breakup which was detailed in the first movie. Of course, with it being 1994, it's been closer to four years since we've seen Hikaru, and after high school she went off to New York City to study musical theater, and has returned to Tokyo to audition for a role in an upcoming production. When Kyosuke and she meet, it's an odd vibe that's created, but one where we learn that even after all this time, Hikaru and Kyosuke still have feelings for each other.

Things then progress as Kyosuke and Hikaru begin to get to know each other anew and he learns of how well she's managed since their past ordeal and how she's fairly well been able to move on, though still retain strong feelings for him. Hikaru has indeed changed, probably the most among all of those familiar characters. While she retains her seemingly limitless energy and enthusiasm, she's tempered it with some maturity. She's also changed greatly in her physical appearance, more than any of the others, with longer her and a few more inches to her height. The musical training has also given her more poise and confidence.

The movie then moves towards figuring out why Kyosuke is in 1994 and how he can get back as well as getting the displaced 1994 Kyosuke back to where he belongs and with his Madoka. While it's a well done set of events, it's not the real focus of the movie. That's placed squarely on taking this broken triangle from years ago and repairing the bonds that were broken.

When the novel was first released, there was a huge uproar among the Orange Road fans due to it taking what happened in the movie and destroying what had been considered to be a perfect finale to the series. Many considered it to not be part of the real continuity and wrote it off. When it then became animated in this movie, it was again relegated to outside the continuity.

I find this movie to be a perfect epilogue to the events of the movie. The series and its first movie focused on the relationships of the teenaged triangle and ended with them growing up and making actual life decisions, for better or worse. This movie takes the actions of all of that and re-examines how it's changed them over the course of 5 or 6 years, and how with some time and some life-experience, those who felt they could never become friends again, never mind be in the same room, could find that time really does heal all wounds.

There are some things that are definitely different with this movie though that aren't quite as good. The original character designer, Akemi Takada, is sadly nowhere to be seen. Takayuki Goto does an excellent job for the most part, showing subtle changes for the 1991 versions while doing very well done designs for the 1994 versions such as the more world aware Kyosuke and the hard working Madoka. Hikaru is hard to really define, as I'm still not sure if I really like this new design or not. The other thing missing is the incredible Wada music. I miss her voice greatly in this.

But this is made up with some good vocal tracks and the fact that ADV supplied the romaji translations during the movie (English versions can be found on subtitle track 2). Having the romaji during the movie was perfect and added a lot of enjoyment to the moments where the music came in to tell the story of these characters.

Being a huge fan of this series and having never seen this movie before (even though I've owned the tape since ADV first released it), it was a real treat to finally sit down and enjoy it. It makes me long for more Orange Road (which is a big hint for ADV to go get the wonderful Kimagure Orange College fanfiction and get that animated) and will probably having me hauling out my laserdisc box sets and taking a trip down memory lane to a place where I wish I grew up. Highly recommended.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

Mania Grade: A+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: N/A
Packaging Rating: A+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Kimagure Orange Road