Kimagure Orange Road OVA/Movie Box Set - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: C+
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: AnimEigo
  • MSRP: 74.95
  • Running time: 270
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1/1.66:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Kimagure Orange Road

Kimagure Orange Road OVA/Movie Box Set

By Chris Beveridge     October 12, 2003
Release Date: January 20, 2004


Kimagure Orange Road OVA/Movie Box Set
© AnimEigo


What They Say
OVA 1 In "I was a Cat; I was a Fish," a magical rope causes Kyosuke to swap souls, first with the family's pet goldfish, and then Jingoro, their cat. When he's found by Madoka and Hikaru, he gets a private lesson on how girls behave when they're alone.

Next, in "Hurricane! Akane the Shape-changing Girl," Kyosuke's tom-boy cousin Akane (who has the power to impersonate anyone) comes to visit -- and falls in love with Madoka!

OVA 2 The gang visits Kyosuke's grandparents in the north of Japan for a skiing vacation, but an ancient curse causes an avalanche of trouble in "White Lovers."

And in "Hawaiian Suspense," a vacation in Hawaii goes awry when Hikaru is mistaken for an heiress and kidnapped! When Madoka browbeats Kyosuke into trying to rescue her, things quickly get out of hand.

OVA 3 contains the two "Stage of Love=Heart on Fire!" videos. In "Spring is for Idols," Hayakawa, a famous singer, comes to town to host a battle of the bands. A head-on collision with Kyosuke results in the two swapping bodies, and Hayakawa wastes no time in putting the moves on Hikaru and Madoka!

Then, in "Birth of a Star," Kyosuke tries to convince Hayakawa not to talk about his experience and races to find Madoka and get her to the contest on time. Fortunately, he can teleport...

OVA 4 Akane suckers Kyosuke into pretending to be her boyfriend to impress her friends in "An Unexpected Situation."

Then, in "Message in Rouge," Madoka runs away from home because she believes her father is cheating on her mother. What will Kyosuke do when she asks to stay the night?

The Movie On a brisk day in early spring, Kyosuke and Madoka walk together on the grounds of a university, on their way to the signboard that will tell them if they have passed the entrance examination. A chance comment is overheard, and Kyosuke's thoughts range back...

...to the previous summer, when he was struggling to prepare for the all-important examinations, amid the myriad distractions of youth...

...to the previous summer, when he and Madoka finally came to grips with their feelings for one another...

...to the previous summer, when he tried not to break Hikaru's heart...

"Kimagure Orange Road: I Want to Return to That Day" is the bittersweet conclusion to the story.

The Review!
While Urusei Yatsura was the series that taught me cultural humor can be done wonderfully, it was Kimagure Orange Road that showed me the real slice of life of youth in Japan in the mid 80’s.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Much like the laserdisc release, these episodes are done up in a good stereo mix that has several moments of nice directionality across the forward soundstage. The bulk of dialogue is still center channel based but the music and ambient effects make good use of the stereo channels. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout with no noticeable dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally released throughout 1988 and 1989, the OVA’s here reflect the time period but manage to look quite good but it’s going to be equipment dependent. The first disc with the first four OVA’s are something of a mixed bag. The first two episodes have a fair amount of cross coloration throughout, from both character designs to backgrounds and other objects. The second two episodes are almost completely free of the cross coloration. The second disc is much like the first two episodes on the first disc but for all four episodes. The movie disc itself is something of a halfway point, where there are some noticeable areas but it’s not as constant as most of the OVAs are. Beyond that, these transfers are holding up well considering their age and original use as VHS and LD source material. Colors look great with no noticeable bleeding and the image is solid throughout. Some of the early OVAs have a few more nicks and scratches on them than I recall from the laserdisc, but that was nearly ten years ago if I remember correctly.

In regards to the equipment dependent comment, when running the OVAs through my Toshiba TV/DVD combo unit that’s uncalibrated, the cross coloration is still visible but more as a shimmer as opposed to the full on multi-colored hue on the HDTV.

For aspect ratios, the OVAs are in their original 1.33:1 framing while the movie is in its original 1.66:1 framing.

Packaging:
Due to these being early release screeners, no packaging was available. Each disc looks to be getting its own keepcase with modified versions of the original artwork used on the VHS and LD releases. Liner notes are set to be included and presumably the box will be of the same hard nature as the TV series box. We will revisit this section when the final packaging product arrives.

Menu:
The menus across the three discs are very simple static pieces, such as the first volume having the shot of Ayukawa and Kasuga in the pool together, or the third volume having a black and white image of the characters to reflect the somber nature of the film. With only Japanese language and subtitles available and no extras on the OVA discs, the menus are simple and quick to navigate.

Extras:
The only extras included is on the theatrical disc which has a couple of Japanese trailers for two of the OVAs on the first OVA disc.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It’s been a number of years since I last watched the OVAs and movie for this series. During its initial release, I remember there being comments about the confusion on releasing the OVAs and film before the 48 episode series itself. My knowledge of the property at the time was minimal, but I found that it didn’t hurt in the slightest overall, as I found the OVAs to be quite good comedy and the movie a testament to just how much anime can affect the emotions.

For the purpose of this review, we’ll review the content of each disc separately:

The first OVA disc was also my first introduction to the series. While there’s something of a decent sized cast, it’s all about the core characters. The OVAs do go in with an assumption that you know the basics as the episodes are actually scattered about within the TV series itself and some of them are reworkings of actual TV episodes.

The comedy is strong with this volume in particular, as it opens with “I was a cat, I was a fish.” Visiting his relatives in the city, Kyosuke’s grandfather has brought some fruits and other items for them to enjoy from the countryside. Unfortunately, he’s also brought along a magic rope that he claims will transfer the personalities of people to whoever else it touches. Kurumi and Manami laugh at him and his silly old ways. While they are ESPers, there’s limits to what they’ll believe. Indignant, he uses the rope and switches bodies with Kurumi, much to the shock of everyone.

And into every body switching story there must be chaos, and that’s usually Kyosuke’s cue to arrive. Getting wrapped into the rope fun, he finds himself transferred into the body of Goldie, their goldfish, which summarily gets tossed out the window by accident and lands in a fish vendors pool as he’s taking a large group of them to the festival. Kyosuke’s entering the fish goes unnoticed as they all think he’s actually in Jingoro, the family cat. The transfers continue as Kyosuke ends up from location to location and through his own way, we quickly learn about the love triangle we’re supposed to know from the series and the way everyone is trying to deal with the situation.

One of my favorite episodes the first time around was “Akane! Hurricane Girl,” which brings in Kyosuke’s cousin Akane. She’s a bit different than the rest of her family; while she’s got the psychic powers most of them do, she’s actually interested in girls. This may not be much today, but just fifteen years ago it was something that stood out just a little bit. When she arrives in town, she comes across Hikaru first and ends up becoming fast friends with her and learning that she’s Kyosuke’s boyfriend. So when Kyosuke skips out on the date Akane comes up with for them to go play a tennis date with Ayukawa, she sets her target on eliminating the possibility there.

Until she meets Ayukawa and falls head over heels herself for her. Such is Kyosuke’s life as he now attempts to deal with keeping things right in Hikaru’s eyes, not offending Ayukawa and keeping Akane away from both of them. With much of this taking place at the pool, we get one of the more memorable slaps Kyosuke gets from Ayukawa in this episode. But we also get a really great moment towards the end of the episode when things in a bar go awry and Kyosuke lets loose with his powers due to his feelings over Ayukawa.

In “White Lovers”, the show goes back to playing some of the traditional stories and using it to their advantage. With most of school primary cast heading out to Kyosukes grandparents mountain retreat to see them and to get in some skiing, his grandfather relates a story about the death of a young woman who was in love but died due to her belief that her intended betrayed her and let her fall into a pool of lava in a cavern underground. Since then, bad things continually happen to couples in love who ski together. So Hikaru takes this seriously and insists on not skiing with Kyosuke but instead making sure Ayukawa goes with him. This makes both of them nervous since they’ve been hiding their feelings but wondering if there’s any truth to it as they end up out in the snow.

One of the best episodes is the Hawaiian Vacation episode. Ayukawa, Kyosuke and Hikaru end up in Hawaii and provide some rather fun fan service moments as they play across the beaches and in the ocean water. Their fun and games ends pretty quickly though when Hikaru is kidnapped as she has the same name as another Hikaru Hiyama visiting the island who is much wealthier and well known. The kidnappers are idiots and don’t realize this and end up giving the demands to Ayukawa and Kyosuke.

Both of them react in different ways. Ayukawa takes it all calmly and goes back to her bad girl days in dealing with the problem while Kyosuke freaks out and mangles a lot of English since the kidnappers speak English a lot. In fact, a lot of the fun of this episode is all the English in it and how they perform with it. The episode turns into a nice little action adventure piece and shows some diversity in the storytelling.

The second volume contains the second set of four OVAs which includes a fun two parter and two more serious episodes to round out the OVA run.

In the two-part story, Kyosuke’s life undergoes another drastic yet temporary change with the arrival of the idol superstar Hayaka Mitsuru. His traveling caravan has come to town to record a performance of his new single at a talent competition for local bands. Before he knows what hits him, Hikaru and his sisters are part of the road crew for this particular town and end up wearing skimpy outfits to help promote their favorite idol. Thinking he can find safety with Ayukawa, he’s stymied again as she’s helping out her friend Shuu’s band by playing the keyboards for them as their keyboardist had just walked out recently.

Even with all that, Kyosuke has lower to go. While out griping about it on his walk home, he ends up going headlong into Mitsuru himself who is trying to escape a horde of fangirls that are after him. As both were thinking similar thoughts when they smacked heads, they end up doing a body transfer. Mitsuru doesn’t realize what happens until he runs into Hikaru who promptly chastises him for trying to be someone he’s not. He ends up using his newfound body to try and be free of some of his responsibilities while Kyosuke as Mitsuru finds himself in the clutches of a potentially unpleasant fan.

She actually turns out to be Mitsuru’s girlfriend from high school, and the story begins to move towards Kyosuke and Mitsuru learning more about each others lives. So when they do shift back to their proper bodies, the relationships have definitely changed around them. But before they deal with that, there has to be a battle of the bands! And yes, Ayukawa has to shine even more and show yet another amazing talent and take over the lead vocals for their performance. I really liked how this all plays out since it puts Kyosuke into the position of dealing with someone whose in love with him/Mitsuru and to restrain himself. But also because we see how a confident Kyosuke affects Ayukawa and her perception of him.

Akane returns in another episode here, but this time with her feminine attraction side becoming a problem. After being harassed by her friends over her lack of a boyfriend and interest in girls, she convinces Kyosuke to pretend to be her boyfriend so that she can show them that she’s normal just like them. Kyosuke reluctantly agrees, which means the situation goes from bad to worse. Every time Akane thinks they’ve shown enough to prove their relationship, the two friends demand more. So when she invites them all back to her place and they all get plastered, Kyosuke is only mildly shocked when Akane invites him into her bedroom and the real fun begins.

To round it out with something a bit more serious, “Message in Rouge” brings Ayukawa’s father back home to Japan for a concert performance. Ayukawa is excited and proud as can be of her father and hangs on him just right. While she wishes her mother didn’t have a performance of her own schedules in France at the same time, she’s glad to have one of them back for any amount of time. But when she finds her father seemingly kissing someone on his staff, her mood changes completely. So drastic in fact that she leaves home without telling anyone and visits some places from the TV series before ending up at Kyosuke’s. Since it’s later than she intended, she cooks him dinner (as he’s alone due to the holiday) and ends up staying the night. The situation gets awkward several times until Kyosuke learns what’s really going on.

When the movie first came out, there had been lots of warnings about it for various reasons. From how some characters act differently from the TV series to the lack of certain characters that should have been involved in the wrap up of the romantic triangle that had been built. But to me at the time, it provided an intriguing and wonderfully tender story about young love and how two people in an akward and ultimately untenable relationship have to come clean with their real feelings. And to accept that doing so would hurt someone they care very much about.

The movie centers in a flashback form to the year prior to Kyosuke and Ayukawa graduating from high school. Both are working hard during the summer and other times to go to cram and prep school and to get their lives ready for the next big step. During all of this, Hikaru feels increasingly left out of the trio and tries to push herself back in, mostly through talking about the play she’s involved in that’s being done for the next years senior group. Hikaru’s attempts have mixed results, but the most startling one is when she visits Kyosuke at home when he’s studying. While listening to the beautiful vocals from Kanako Wada, the two of them end up in an embrace and kiss for the first time. It’s a tender moment that starts to set them down the path of being together as a real couple instead of a Hikaru-pushed couple.

When Ayukawa finds out though, she reveals more of herself than she has previously by essentially cutting Kyosuke out of her life, including not going to the same prep school. With her being this way, Kyosuke is forced to start sorting out his feelings for the two women in his life. Eventually, Ayukawa breaks down and calls him, revealing some of her fears, such as how she always assumed that Kyosuke liked her and liked her better. Set to the visuals of fireworks going off beyond the curtains, the phone call between the two is on both sides of the pendulum, both heart-breaking and inspiring at the same time. When they do come together afterwards and they come to the conclusion that he has to deal with Hikaru, the real spanner in the works becomes more apparent.

It’s from here where most of the dispute over the film comes, as when Hikaru learns she’s being cast aside, she goes a bit nuts over it and tries everything to win him back. Kyosuke’s way of going about this is all wrong and ends up making the situation even worse, especially with Ayukawa providing little help considering that she’s Hikaru’s childhood friend. The drama of the second half as this plays out, along with Kyosuke and Ayukawa attempting to get their prep done for school, continues to be a truly great piece of work – right down to the last BANG! In the film.

The year I saw this was a very good year for anime films as it was almost a double bill release with Grave of the Fireflies. Both of these films my mother watched in the space of a week and she will still talk about both today and how they impacted here.

Summary:
While there is definitely nostalgia when it comes to these shows, there’s a lot of love to it as well. In the early 90’s, it’s this kind of show that I cut my teeth on and wanted much more of while the bulk of fandom was looking forward to the next babes with guns show. This series was released ahead of its time and is only now starting to get some of the wider attention in the eyes of the mainstream crowd. It’s an amusing shonen romantic comedy with some real heart to it.

Features
Japanese Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Trailers

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 Sony speakers.

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