Kimagure Orange Road TV Vol. #07 (of 12) (Mania.com)

By:Paul Grisham
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!

The Review!
The excellent storytelling from the previous volume continues in this collection of stories that feature Kyosuke discovering a new power, a supporting character getting a chance to find true love, and the return of Madoka the Pick!

Audio:
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.

Video:
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, giving the image a flickering quality at times. This instability is probably due to a combination of noise reduction and edge enhancement.

Packaging:
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.

Menus:
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.

Extras:
None.

Content:
(Please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers.)

Things get funny and sticky here again after a string of dramatically tense episodes. Things were getting so intense that the extra comedy and adventure is a nice break. These episodes are just an inch shy of brilliant, and have me excited over how great this show really is.

Kasuga finally gets tired of being picked on for being indecisive, so he decides to commit himself to being more confident and determined. Unfortunately, Kyosuke has developed a new Power, hypnosis, and he unknowingly hypnotizes himself into the person he thinks everyone wants him to be. Of course his newfound confidence has made him popular with the ladies and made him the envy of every man. He even has enough courage to directly ask Madoka out on a date. But is he really any more decisive?

Kazuya returns in the next episode, determined to help Kyosuke resolve his love triangle. He offers Kyosuke a way to find out Madoka's true feelings for him. Kyosuke thinks that Kazuya can transfer his telepathic Powers to him and agrees. Instead, Kazuya switches bodies with Kasuga, leaving Kyosuke in the half-pint's body, while Kazuya goes off on a date with Hikaru. This is perhaps the best episode on the disc, as Kasuga struggles with childhood and Kazuya sees just how boring grown-up movies really are.

In the next episode, Madoka is seriously hurt, but she won't tell anybody how it happened. Kyosuke learns that a girl gang is looking for Madoka, and it seems like they want trouble. Kyosuke decides to take care of Madoka while she is injured but since Hikaru is already taking care of her, he can't get close. Instead, he decides to be a man and protect her from the gangs, no matter what the cost.

Manami steps out in the final episode, changing her look, and goes looking for love. She isn't out much before she runs afoul of another group of delinquent girls looking for a fight. Through a strange twist, Kyosuke comes to her rescue, but neither recognizes the other. The two end up spending the day together, opening up in ways they couldn't before. The mistaken identity cliché is usually a tired one, but they did a good job of justifying it in this episode. It was wonderful to see another side of my favorite supporting character. I asked my buddy, a diehard Orange Road aficionado, why when Hikaru transformed she got so trampy, but when Manami does it, she becomes a grade-A babe, to which he simply replied, "Genes."

Each one of these episodes is fairly self-contained, and offers only slight development of the ongoing love story. However, these episodes are simply splendid, combining humor, action, and just a touch of romance. These episodes would not have worked, however, without the careful character development of earlier episodes. Because we know these characters, because we understand how they think and act, these episodes feel personal, like a memory of things that have actually happened to your friends. Had these stories earlier in the series, before the events of the summer vacation that we saw in previous volumes, they would not have had the poignancy they have now.

Since these stories are self-contained, there is some lack of continuity that works against them. In the episode where Madoka is injured, some very dramatic things happen to the characters, but by the next episode, they are completely forgotten. It would not have been too difficult to tie things together through a line of dialogue or a small detail. My only fear is that like the first half of the series, which started strong, sagged in the middle, then peaked again at the end, the second half of the series may start to do the same.

Still, for pure entertainment value, this batch of episodes is hard to beat. If you've been watching the series up till now, you already know how great it has been. I'm ecstatic to tell you that things are still going strong, better than I would have expected for such a long series.



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.

Features
Japanese Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
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
MSRP: 24.95
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Kimagure Orange Road