Kimagure Orange Road TV Vol. #08 (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!
Things slow down here, as we get a handful of episodes focusing on our supporting cast. The results are mixed, however, as the comedy becomes more situational, and plot continuity takes a vacation.

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.)

Continuing the trend of episodes featuring the supporting cast members, this time around we get episodes about Jingoro (the Kasuga's cat), Kurumi, and Yuusaku. Except for Jingoro – who is one of the surliest anime pets I've ever seen – these characters are pretty interesting and offer a nice balance to the ongoing love triangle between Kyosuke, Madoka, and Hikaru. Unfortunately, they are not really developed enough (and this includes Manami from the last episode on the previous disc) to really carry the show for long periods of time. Interspersed with the primary story episodes, these might have made excellent, lighthearted diversions, but put together in a block like this, I get the feeling that there is too much fluff, and not enough story.

Things get off to a bad start as the Kasuga's try to figure out why Jingoro is behaving badly, or at least even worse than usual. The episode had me alternately laughing and scratching my head. In a particularly humorous use of the power, Kazuya swaps bodies with Jingoro, allowing the cat to better pursue his mysterious needs. On the other hand, much of the episode made no sense, including a strange subplot where Madoka takes care of a lost cat.

The next episode is better, when Kyosuke and Minami realize that Kurumi just might be in love with the most popular boy at school. Unfortunately for Kurumi, the boy has been holding a torch for Madoka, and has a few other secrets of his own that could break poor Kurumi's heart. What should have been a nice, touching episode is derailed by Kyosuke and Manami's overwrought attempts to interfere with Kurumi's love life. I was so frustrated with the two of them acting out of character that even the humor fell flat.

The next episode got things going in the right direction, as I've always felt that Yuusaku was a critically underused character in the series. Yuusaku takes center stage here, causing quite a controversy when he confesses his love to Madoka at school. Kyosuke is at first amused by the whole thing, but when Yuusaku and Madoka start spending time together he begins to get jealous. The two of them run off together to a popular location for lovers to commit a double suicide, leaving Kyosuke to wonder exactly what is going on.

Of the character specials on this disc, Yuusaku's episode is the most effective, with the writing has returned to its former glory. Characters are no longer running around doing totally expected things, well, except for Yuusaku. But when you see the reasons behind his actions, you'll see just how wickedly logical the whole thing is. The ending was a hoot, and had me groaning and laughing at the same time. My only complaint with the episode was Kyosuke's continued assumption that Madoka is interested in every other guy on the planet. Kyosuke's jealousy is becoming tedious, and I'm hereby delivering notice that the next time he thinks Madoka's got another boyfriend, he is required to come clean, confess his feelings, and ask plainly her intentions.

The final episode here is a silly, little Power episode, in which a new Power, time travel, combined with Kyosuke's hypnosis Power threatens to ruin Kyosuke's 16th birthday. The episode is quite fun to watch, but also pretty meaningless. Lately, Kimagure Orange Road has been getting more situational, in which traumatic events from one episode are pretty much forgotten by the next episode. This episode ends with a nasty little turn of events for Kyosuke. I'll withhold further comments until I've seen more, but I suspect that this will all be neatly swept under the rug by next time.

If I've painted the picture that these episodes aren't very good, then I may have come off a little strong. In fact, they are frequently hysterically funny, and there is some great dialogue here. The story is having fun with itself, and that's always nice to see, but after the creative and artistic peak of the previous batch of episodes, the episodes here are disappointing.

We have now come three-quarters of the way through the series, and there are still a number of requisite and predictable plot developments to cover. For instance, Kyosuke must still confess to Madoka (it's really inevitable at this point), Hikaru must get over her broken heart, and someone must learn of Kyosuke's secret Power. With sixteen episodes to go, there is still plenty of time to work it out (many series don't run even that long), but if the show continues to spin idly rather than moving forward, things could get rushed as we push forward to the grand finale.



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: B
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