Kimagure Orange Road TV Vol. #06 (of 12) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, June 29, 2002
Release Date: Wednesday, June 05, 2002
What They Say
High School student Kasuga Kyosuke has problems with women. Big time!
First, he thinks he's falling in love with the beautiful and somewhat mysterious Ayukawa Madoka, but he's not at all sure if Madoka feels the same way about him.
Second, he's being pursued by the exceedingly sweet, cute and bubbly Hiyama Hikaru, who has taken to calling him "Darling" and asking him if she'll make a good wife.
The two girls are total opposites – and best friends since childhood. Which means that Kyosuke's love life is somwhat complicated.
But wait – Kyosuke's women troubles are far from over. He's got two bratty sisters to worry about, and his two sex-crazed buddies ar stalking them! And one of the toughest guys in the Karate Club, who is rather annoyed about him "stealing" Hikaru, is stalking him!
Now, Kyosuke does have one thing going for him. Both he and his sisters have inherited the family gift – Paranormal Powers! Teleportation, Telekinesis, Precognition – they can do it all. Unfortunately, if anyone catches them using their Powers, they'll have to leave town. And it turns out that Kyosuke's Powers are much better at getting him into trouble than out of it.
All this means that life is rarely boring (and always hilarious) on KIMAGURE ORANGE ROAD!
Kimagure Orange Road really hits its stride as the first half of the series comes to a close. Sex, lies, and rock 'n roll make this perhaps the most satisfying collection of episodes yet.
The only audio track is the original Japanese version – basically a unidirectional stereo mix. The audio is satisfying, but there is some scratch and hiss as you might expect from a 15 year old television show. There is nothing that really detracts from the show, though.
This is an old show, and at times looks it. There is some print damage. Reds are over saturated and subject to bleeding. Edge enhancement and compression artifacts are just about everywhere for those looking for them, as well as a fair amount of cross coloration. More disappointing is that some of the fine lines in the show are unstable, causing some fine lines to vanish at times. This instability is probably due to a combination of noise reduction and edge enhancement.
The packaging for the individual discs is kind of disappointing. Each case is thematically color coded so that the series has a nice rainbow progression to it when arranged in order. The front of each case includes a character image that shows off the lovely character designs. The discs themselves are silk-screened with the same image, and actually look very good. The problem is with the back cover of the cases. Each case includes a screen capture from the show, which unfortunately shows off the video problems described above. In addition, there are quite a few printing problems with the text. In addition to some spelling and formatting problems, there appears to be a general lack of quality in the printing, as the text seems to fade toward the end of each line.
The menus put each episode up front on the main menu, with cycling animation from the episodes. Unfortunately, whenever a viewer changes the selection, the animation resets, causing quite a bit of slow down while navigating. It takes several seconds to select through to the fourth episode, for instance. There is no way to select a specific chapter within an episode from the menus. You would have to select the particular episode, then use the chapter skip to the desired location. Given that each episode is in a separate title, and the menu is slow to navigate, it can be a frustrating experience. Unlike some other Animeigo menus, there is no audio element to the menus.
(Please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers.)
Kyosuke and gang are still stuck out at tennis camp, but things have gotten dull. When Kyosuke slips away from an exhibition match, he meets an attractive girl named Kumiko who is interested in his company. Kumiko and Kyosuke really hit it off, and though strange coincidences, Kyosuke starts to wonder if this girl might be more special than she at first appears. But when she becomes more openly seductive, Kyosuke starts to wonder what she really wants from him and whether he ready and able to give it to her?
Then, tennis camp is over, and the gang returns home, but Madoka hasn't been sleeping at home lately. When Kyosuke sees her early one morning getting into a car with an older man in the love hotel district, he gets incredibly jealous. His friends know something is up with Madoka, but they won't let poor Kyosuke in on the secret, making his jealousy worse. When he meets an older girl, Yukari, who is filling in for Madoka at the ABCB, he figures that if Madoka can sleep around with older guys, there's no reason he can't pursue his own needs with an older girl.
In the next episode, summer vacation is over, and the new school term has started up. Part of the return to school tradition is the running of a marathon relay race. Thanks to Kyosuke's indecisiveness and Madoka's frequent truancy, they get selected to run the final leg of the relay for their class. Things go bad, however, when Kyosuke tries to break the news to Madoka, and the two wind up fighting and eventually stop speaking to each other.
The show is firing on all cylinders now, as all aspects of the show are finally working together in harmony. The most surprising development here is how the Power has become an integral and organic part of the story thanks to the addition of a wonderful, if diminutive, supporting character. In the final episode on this disc, perhaps the best single episode in the series thus far, Kyosuke discovers that his little cousin, Kazuya, is moving into town. Being a relative of Kyosuke, he also has the Power of telepathy. Able to see the complexities Kyosuke's love life directly, and without the self-control of an adult, Kazuya attempts to work things out for the indecisive Kyosuke, only to make things worse.
This episode is easily the best episode of the series thus far, bringing out all the themes and developing story elements to the fore. In a sense, Kazuya, is Kyosuke’s repressed id, saying all the things he cannot bring himself to say. For the first time, we really see some of the reasons behind Kyosuke’s indecisiveness.
Kyosuke and Madoka's tenuous attraction to each other continues to be the main focus of these episodes, even though the couple spends very little time together. The introduction of the two female guest characters helps Kyosuke ground his own feelings a little better. Faced with the very real prospect of becoming sexually intimate with another person, someone who isn't Madoka (or Hikaru for that matter), he comes to terms with his own feelings in a way that he was able to avoid doing before.
What is working best in these episodes is the way that the writers have put together a string of themes and recurring story elements to give these episodes a sense of continuity and growth for the characters. In the last episode on the previous disc, we saw how jealousy affected poor Hikaru when she saw how close Kyosuke and Madoka had become. Here, we see the effects of Madoka's jealousy, and it is an interesting contrast to Hikaru's reactions. Then, we get to see Kyosuke's jealousy in full swing. Hikaru shows us grief, Madoka shows us disappointment, and Kyosuke shows us vindictiveness. These three episodes, plus Kazuya's debut, may represent the creative pinnacle for the series, a high-water mark that the finale must somehow surpass.
Another theme at work is the transition from a childish crush to a real, adult relationship. At the end of the second episode here, Kyosuke watches as two adult lovers engage in an argument. The very next episode, features Kyosuke in a lovers' quarrel of his own. He gets to see how pride and stubbornness are both very adult traits, but also very childish ones as well.
At the end of the final episode, Kazuya, unable to resolve the love triangle between Kyosuke and Hikaru and Madoka asks the girls, "Are you okay with the way things are now?" I'm sure that the situation must be painful for them, but as a viewer, if things keep going the way they are now, I'll be very happy indeed.
Note: In the initial release of the Kimagure Orange Road television series to DVD the opening credits were removed from the beginning of each episode, and included as extras in the credits menu. The publisher, Animeigo, has graciously agreed to remaster the Orange Road discs and exchange them for unsatisfied customers. In order to get this review published quickly, a review of the initial release is presented here. I do not expect any substantial changes to the technical portion of this review, but any issues that may come up with the remastered set will be noted here when the new discs are available.
Japanese Language,English Subtitles
Panasonic Panablack TV, Codefree Panasonic RP56 DVD player, Sony ProLogic receiver, Yamaha and Pioneer speakers, Monster cable. (Secondary equipment, Pioneer 105s DVD-ROM, ATi Rage Fury Pro, ViewSonic A90f, PowerDVD 3.0)
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: C+
Packaging Rating: C+
Menus Rating: C
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: All
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: AnimEigo
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Kimagure Orange Road