Kaleido Star Vol. #03 - Mania.com

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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. #03

By Chris Beveridge     August 04, 2004
Release Date: August 03, 2004

Kaleido Star Vol. #03
© ADV Films

What They Say
Layla, Kaleido Stage's biggest star, gets her chance to shine on the silver screen. Could this mean the door is now open for Sora to become the Kaleido diva? Nothing is ever certain in showbiz, so say tuned for a high seas adventure as Layla and Sora battle it out in Kaleido Stage's newest and most exciting production.

The Review!
As Sora continues to become a rising star both on and off the stage, she has to deal with the stresses of that plus with those who become less than happy with her fast ascent.

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.

Anna and Sora share this cover but it's focused nicely on Anna as she takes on the role of the Prince in the Little Mermaid show, combining the stars and other imagery against the backdrop of the stage for that particular performance. It's a very busy cover between the background imagery and the outfits, 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 standard four page booklet that has character profiles for a lot of the cast. What's interesting is that while their bios are brief, there's some interesting bits about their places of origin. Fool is apparently from France. Be wary reading though, there are potential spoilers in the bios!

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)
Kaleido Star moves along very well throughout this batch of episodes, though in some senses it might seem like this are moving just a bit too fast for Sora to be progressing as she does. Kaleido Star tends to be a bit tricky in that within episodes a lot of time can transpire and the show moves along weeks at a time without it being apparent. For as much as Sora progresses in some episodes, it's definitely a requirement that a good deal of time pass.

As is the usual, there's a good deal of character study and growth when it comes to Sora. A lot of it helps from there being not too much to her in a sense that she's only done some basic performance activities in the past and is lucky to be at Kaleido Stage. Each time a new play or activity comes up, Sora's got either a touch of experience with it or none, so she's got a big learning curve to work with and then finding a way to make it her own; often while dealing with a strong personality that already owns that particular event. The Little Mermaid experience is one of those where the water based play is pulled off wonderfully but there's still something that isn't quite right.

Sora and Anna are doing amazing performances as the Prince and Mermaid but the crowds, which are all positive, continue to dwindle. The way they deal with the problem is pretty obvious though the way they do it causes problems for everyone else, which is how it should be portrayed. Much of what the main trio of girls has done in the past to fix things and help propel Sora and themselves forward has been done just like that, as the three of them. With the Little Mermaid performance, the changes they try effects the entire performance and throws everyone off. The tension that brings in is a nice change of pace from just Layla not liking what she sees going on.

One of the things I do like is to see the creative and non-Western ideas that are come up with for the various plays. The Little Mermaid deviates nicely and it has some good fun to it even before Sora gets involved. The next play that gets put on as a full on production is the Arabian Nights. Much of the performance itself is cast aside to focus on a specific part of it, which is the climax battle between the two leads. To make it more thrilling, they create a moving tightrope, like one spread across a pirate boat ride at an amusement park. Swinging back and forth, the two tiered ropes allow them to move from a lower level to a higher level when the flames kick in and the boat looks to be on fire. Naturally, the show brings Sora to compete for one of the lead roles. This would seem highly out of place in most groups, but with the way Kalos continues to use her to his own ends and Layla herself is struggling with why Sora bothers her so much, it's not a surprise.

There are a lot of great character moments throughout the episodes. Layla and Sora's special practice session stands out strongly as a really exciting moment. The episode that dealt with Anna's father and his return to her life was good for giving more life to Anna, giving people something to latch onto her with other than her performances and minor comedic moments. The one character that really stood out for me, particularly in the last couple of episodes, was Fool and all the trouble he gets in. It was a simple gag, but I couldn't help but laugh out loud repeatedly during Sora's diabolo training session and how Fool kept being affected by it. Sora's later attempts to keep him under wraps with regards to Layla were also priceless. Layla makes out really well in this batch as well and she begins to shed some of her iciness as we learn why she's that way towards Sora and she works towards understanding it herself.

In Summary:
This series continues to be a bright, fun and engaging one. The animation continues to become more fluid as the performances become more critical to the story and the general style to the show is very strong. Many shows are bright and colorful for no reason but this one has every reason to be the way and uses it at every turn. The characters continue to grow nicely, though small steps for some due to the size of the cast, but it's still highly entertaining as it plays out. As much as I enjoyed this show right out of the gate, it continues to grow more and more on me as I watch them come up with new ways to entertain their audiences and strive for that tangible goal. Very entertaining and very recommended.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing,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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