Kaleido Star Vol. #02 - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Kaleido Star

Kaleido Star Vol. #02

By Chris Beveridge     June 22, 2004
Release Date: June 22, 2004

Kaleido Star Vol. #02
© ADV Films

What They Say
The Fool reads the tarot cards and predicts trouble for Sora. She auditions for a part in an aquatic show, but with the Fools troublesome foresight, will Sora land the part or end up in the hospital. Meanwhile, Layla will do everything in her power to show Kalos that Sora could never take her place on the glorious Kaleido Stage. Sora has come so far, but will a jealous diva and the pressures of performing crush her soaring dreams?

The Review!
As Sora settles into her life at the Kaleido Stage, she brings all sorts of new elements and life to the place, causing trouble and a lot more.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. That mix is a standard stereo one and it sounds quite good with both the music and ambient sound effects making good use of the forward soundstage. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout with a number of scenes using some solid directionality to get things accomplished. We spot checked the English track and liked the clarity some of the sound effects gained from it as well as the music itself coming out a touch fuller.

Originally airing in 2003, Kaleido Star's transfer here is done in its original full frame aspect ratio and is one of the most colorful looking TV transfers I can think of seeing in the past year. The series takes advantage of the latest tools available and presents a very vibrant and colorful show. While the series has settled into what looks to be the standard feel for it as opposed to some of the really high quality pieces that kicked it off, the transfer maintains a really solid presentation, with great colors, no cross coloration and practically no aliasing during panning movements. This just looks fantastic.

Giving Mia the main cover this time around, we get a really detailed and great looking piece of her in the fairy godmother outfit with all sorts of things flying around her. It's a very busy cover between the background imagery and her outfit, but it looks great here.. The packaging does a good job of listing the volume number on both the cover and the spine as the back cover only provides the episode count, not the episode numbers or titles. The back cover continues the same color for the background as the front does bit it fades into the performance ring as it fills the area. There's a good summary of what to expect and a few shots from the show and of the menus here. The included insert is a single four-panel piece that has an action shot of Rosetta and Sora together on a swing. Why can't they make these full sized and sell them? Also in this volume was a small cute little cardboard standee of Mia.

The main menu is a well animated piece that has various pieces of imagery from the design of the show rotating in the background while the foreground has a static circle that has extensions out to the selections. The episode selections all have a small animation bubble next to them as well. It's a hard menu to really describe since it's not using much in the way of actual pieces from the show but more of a design feel from the Kaleido Stage itself. One of the softer instrumental pieces plays alongside it, though far too short since it recycles very quickly. Access times are nice and fast and the navigation is relatively easy once you move around a bit.

What we have here is the standard volume extras we'll see for the whole series probably with the opening and ending sequences presented in their clean format as well as a video gallery of production artwork that's both black and white and color. Hopefully as this series goes on, since there's plenty of episodes to go, we'll see some commentaries or behind the scenes footage of the dub being done.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After all the newness and fun of the first volume of Kaleido Star, the second volume is typically a good way to find out whether, particularly for a longer series, it'll be worth checking out. Since the creators typically have some room to maneuver when they have a longer series to work on, the earlier episodes aren't quite as packed and set up in the way a normal twenty-six episode series is. While I won't call these episodes filler by any stretch of the imagination, they do take a slightly more meandering path along the way to the main storyline.

The four episodes on this volume manage to provide quite a bit of fun, though I think they tried to cram a bit too much into some of the stories since they want them to stand by themselves. This works well in getting an audience into the show since they can just turn it on and get right into things, but it does make for some slightly awkwardly paced episodes. Since Sora has become acclimated to Kaleido Stage now and she and her friends have fairly well mastered their part in the current performance, it's time to start bringing in some new challenges and people for her to interact with. Who was it that said that they'd never work with animals?

Well, animated animals are a whole different story as Sora ends up taking in a baby seal she comes across on the beach. With a sneakiness that only Sora can manage, she brings him back to her room and decides she's going to keep him. Fool doesn't like this too much and is surprised that the seal can even see him. And apparently even taste him as he proceeds to try to swallow him whole. For Sora, there's some abandonment issues that are part of her character makeup that comes into play with the arrival of this seal since everyone else tells her to get rid of him. But she ends up taking on extra jobs and whatever she needs to do to feed and keep him happy. Naming him Jonathon, she manages to keep this up for a short while before Kalos finds out about it and it all comes up to a confrontation between the two. The resolution is not unexpected at all, but my goodness did they build a new home for that seal faster than anything else I've seen.

One of the traits that Sora definitely has is that of "idol worship" for lack of a better phrase at the moment, so when the world champion of Diabolo comes to Kaleido Stage to perform for a week, she's essentially starstruck. Rosetta, the young prodigy, won the championship at age nine after performing for four years prior to that. Now several years later, she's finding jobs harder to come by but still is a technical master at the competition. Her performances at Kaleido Stage should fit in well, but when she performs on the first night and does it flawlessly, she's incapable of understanding why nobody really got into it. There was some scattered polite applause, but nothing that she used to get. Rosetta's also somewhat stuck up as she's only interested in the opinions of a few people, like Kalos or Layla but not people like Sora, who ends up becoming her guide during her weeks stay.

As her first performance goes so poorly, Kalos makes the quick decision to cut her right away. This has a huge impact on her and on Sora who wants to help her succeed. While Rosetta continues to push her away, the things that make Sora who she is allows her to keep pushing and getting closer to Rosetta. One of the best moments of this episode is when they figure out that Rosetta's never really spent time in an audience and hasn't seen it from that perspective, so they wrangle her into watching the current show and she sees Sora and her friends performing their pumpkin trick, something that's become really popular with the crowds. I ended up seeing this episode in both languages and was a bit bothered by how some of the key bits of this episode took what was already obvious and made it even blunter.

The two lead women in this show, at least at this stage of the game, both get episodes to themselves where we see what makes them tick and work so hard at what they do. With Layla, we see her family background by meeting her very wealthy father who is disconnected from the reality of his daughter's life and just looking at everything from a commercial value standpoint. Sora of course gets involved when she shouldn't but it allows us to see what makes Layla work so hard at what she does. Sora's own episode deals with her being pushed by some casual comments into trying out for the lead in the summer performance as the Little Mermaid but it ends up in disaster when she hurts herself. Normally you'd think something like this would last a couple of episodes, two at least, but it gets pushed to wrap up fast in the single episode. Sora's recovery ends up not being quite as involving as it should, but there's some great little moments in regards to the men around Sora and how they feel about her. It's quite amusing and works well.

Kaleido Star still manages to have some very good production values associated with it in this batch of episodes. The show still manages to have great colors and designs for both backgrounds and characters and a number of very fluidly animated scenes, especially when it comes to the performances. The series seems like it's gradually getting its legs and we'll be seeing some more interesting things as Kalos uses Sora to prod and change Kaleido Stage for the better by challenging her and therefore those around her.

In Summary:
Kaleido Star continues to be a very fun show to watch, one that has plenty of good things to work with for adults and plenty of bright shiny moments for the kids. This is one of those series that so far works well in a family setting for us, so that's a huge plus. This volume plays with a few different things, from guest characters to a new mascot and animal character while also giving the core characters some time to shine and show their darker side a bit. It's a good thing there's still so many more episodes to come as I'm looking forward to watching this for awhile. Good stuff.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and closing animation,Mini poster,Kaleido Star standee, Production sketches

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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