Kimagure Orange Road TV Vol. #02 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • 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

Kimagure Orange Road TV Vol. #02

By Paul Grisham     June 24, 2002
Release Date: 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!
Kimagure Orange Road got off to a great start on volume one, surprising me with its depth and willingness to probe some some pretty heavy topics for a romantic comedy. Volume 2 keeps the dramatic tension high, taking on the issues of jealousy and distrust, but still keeping the tone light enough to be enjoyable.

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 shimmering quality at times. This instability is probably due to the high-level of noise reduction. The worst looking part of the show is the ending credit animation. During the ED, there are lots of nicks in the print, and at times, the outline of Madoka as her dress flitters in the wind disappears entirely. Though flawed, the show is still watchable and enjoyable. Just don't expect anything approaching reference quality.

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 from Akemi Takada. 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.)

Kyosuke and Hikaru are now officially an item, and things are going well for them, but Kyosuke still maintains his deep interest in Madoka. Soon, though Kyosuke will have to start coming to terms with Madoka's past, the dark secrets that will drive him crazy with jealousy. In a sense this is the hurdle that most lovers must overcome, to learn how to forget your love's past and accept them for who they are now. Poor Kyosuke is put to the test here, as Madoka's reputation and attitudes come back to haunt him.

In the first episode, Hikaru sees Madoka and a strange older man going into a hotel together, and fearing that her friend is involved sexually with the man, she sends Kyosuke in to investigate and protect Madoka if necessary. He discovers that Madoka is actually working after school as a waitress at a cafe, something that is expressly forbidden by school rules. The man is the cafe owner and a purely platonic friend of Madoka's. Kyosuke finds himself suckered into working at the cafe as well, though he is happy to be spending so much time with Madoka. During that time, Madoka begins to develop her own feelings for Kyosuke, and one night, after closing, they celebrate a week of working together with champagne. Madoka gets more than a little drunk, and begs Kyosuke to let her spend the night with him. He is deeply shocked, wondering what kind of girl she really is.

In the next episode, one of Madoka and Hikaru's childhood friends, Yuusaku, starts stalking Kyosuke and going on about how he is going to steal his woman from Kyosuke. Kyosuke mistakenly assumes he is talking about Madoka, and the whole situation, including Yuusaku's oafishness, is fairly comical. However, as Kyosuke learns more about how close Yuusaku and Madoka really are, we see just how paranoid his jealousy has made him. Though he longs to know more about Madoka, he is constantly afraid that he will learn something that will ultimately drive him away from her.

The jealousy issue finally comes to a head when Kyosuke and Madoka finally go out to a nice club together in the third episode. On the way into the club, Madoka runs into an older boy that she has previously been involved with. The boy, and his current girlfriend, begin insulting Madoka, insinuating things about her reputation that Kyosuke cannot bear to hear. Already set up by some of his friends' references to Madoka's "degenerate" past, he defends her honor, shouting down the boy and demanding an apology. Things only get worse, when Madoka talks Kyosuke into a few drinks. Drunk and jealous, and desperately in love, Kyosuke says and does some things he comes to regret, and they have to work through the jealousy issue quickly, or their friendship may come to an abrupt end.

The whole thing is made more complicated by the fact that Madoka has begun to have romantic feelings for Kyosuke. She frequently probes him for his feelings about Hikaru, but Kyosuke himself does not really understand them himself, and winds up leading on both girls. There is a beautiful moment, when a drunken Madoka finally challenges him on his behavior, and is one of Madoka's few honest moments with him. She faces her own feelings of jealousy watching Hikaru's shameless displays of affection for Kyosuke, though those are mainly manifest as one of her classic snits in which she turns away disapprovingly and brushes Kyosuke off.

The main shortcoming of this little arc of episodes is that the issues are resolved without much growth on Kyosuke's part. Each time Kyosuke discovers a little more of Madoka's past, he gets worked up about it, concerned enough to stew over it, but not direct enough to ask. Little by little, he learns that his fears are unfounded – Madoka's greatest sin being that she is something of an infamous tease among the bad boys she runs with. Though I was frequently relieved to learn that she wasn't "that kind of girl", I also felt that it was something of a cop-out to let Kyosuke off the hook without a lesson.

The fourth episode here is something of a release, a more comical episode to offset some of the tense drama of the previous episodes. Here, the photography themes come into play as a fashion photographer discovers Hikaru, and her friends wonder if the life of a model might be too much for the young girl. Things play out with a very satisfying twist, giving us a great opportunity to ogle beautifully drawn snapshots of our female cast. It's an expendable episode, but still wildly entertaining, and it was nice to take a break from some of the intense tension that had been developing between our three young lovers.

A nice addition to this volume is how the supporting cast, Kyosuke's sisters and father, the cafe owner, Kyosuke's friends, and even Yuusaku, are developing into fuller characters. The effects of their advice and meddling in Kyosuke's affairs will be interesting to watch as the story gets more complicated.

In all, perhaps not quite up to the high standards of the first volume, but the story is developing nicely, and still exceeding my expectations. Despite its age, after eight episodes, I can safely declare that Kimagure Orange Road is the best animated romantic comedy domestically available on DVD today, with a balance of character, story, and romance that few shows on the market have. Fans of Magic Users Club or those somewhat disappointed by the louder, zanier Love Hina should definitely consider digging deep and giving Orange Road a try.




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)

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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jnager 3/13/2012 7:05:32 PM

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