What They Say Sora, an amazingly talented acrobat from Japan, has left her friends and family behind and moved to California to audition for a role in Kaleido Stage! This world-famous troop of performers is known for their death-defying stunts and spectacular sparkling costumes! More than anything else, Sora wants to be a part of the glamour and glitz, but first she'll have to prove that she was born to perform - no matter how dangerous the next stunt may be! Contains episodes 1-26.
The first season of Kaleido Star features a Japanese stereo soundtrack along with a 5.1 English soundtrack. Both are solid audio presentations providing crisp, clear dialogue and mood music.
Originally airing in 2003, the transfer presents Kaleido Star in its original full frame aspect ratio. There are no complaints to be had with the transfer; the series is abundant with rich colors and vivid details that range from multi-colored costumes to the simple fiery orange of a setting sun.
Funimation provides a compact, attractive package for the first season; all four discs are housed in a clear case a fraction wider than a standard DVD case. Two double sided binders are attached to the center and hold the discs. The case came in a sleeve adorned with a gorgeous image of Sora and Layla in the outfits for their final stage act. The reverse of the sleeve contains the requisite information and images about the series and the technical specifications.
Removing the sleeve reveals the same front and back layout for the DVD cover. However, opening the case reveals another gorgeous image of Sora on the reverse of the cover. While she fills most of the width, a portion is given over to listing out the episodes on each disc.
Simple and utilitarian, the main menus are rendered as simple static images with music loops. Menu items are across the bottom and will get you setup and into the content quickly and efficiently.
The final disc of the set holds all the extras – textless versions of all the opening and ending sequences along with a commentary on episode 25 by the English voice actors for Sora and Layla.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When I first watched Kaledio Star in 2006, I was immediately captivated by its story and characters. Four years and many viewings later, I am once again watching it as Funimation re-releases the first season. My opinion of the series has not changed despite knowing every beat of the story, every twist and turn. It is a simple story; Naegino Sora is a young girl with a dream of performing on the Kaleido Stage and must overcome physical and emotional adversity to achieve it.
Sounds a bit clichéd and predictable. The audience knows Sora will overcome all obstacles; when the "Legendary Great Maneuver" is first mentioned, they can be reasonably confident that the climax of the season will be her performing this very maneuver. However, the beauty and charm of the story is the journey to this destination. The focus of the story is not on the maneuver but on building the characters into a tight knit family of performers.
They have all joined the Kaleido Stage to entertain people, and they strive to put on the best show possible. There are moments of jealousy, bickering, and the usual strife that comes with people in a competitive atmosphere, but the core cast grows closer through the hardships. Their struggles, tears, and laughs build up to the climatic "Legendary Great Maneuver" and draw you into becoming part of their on-screen audience. You hold your breath wanting to see something magical at the end.
And what an ending the season provides; it is that magical moment you were waiting for, but it also has the courage to make the ending bittersweet. It teaches Sora and the viewer one last important lesson. Sometimes, a dream can only be achieved through a great, personal sacrifice. Avoiding the complete fairy tale happy ending solidified Kaleido Star as one of my all time favorites.
While by no means a perfect series, Kaleido Star manages to soar above the competition with its charm and style. Enjoyable from the start, it is easy to overlook its predictability and the few clichés that do appear. This is a title that belongs on the shelf of not only sports anime lovers but also on those that simply love a great story.
The first season of Kaleido Star is a captivating story about pursuing one's dream. While predictable, it distinguished itself by avoiding most of the stereotypes and clichés seen in similar titles. It took a great cast of characters and built them into a close knit family of performers that you simply just had to watch and cheer for. The "Legendary Great Maneuver" finalé provides an amazing yet bittersweet ending that will have you transfixed with anticipation. Funimation gives you one more chance to pick up this modern classic; don't miss it. One of my very favorite and highly recommended titles.
Features Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Sony Bravia KDL-46S4100, Panasonic RP-82 via component video cable, Sony STR-DH800 receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers
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