Kimagure Orange Road TV Vol. #03 - 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. #03

By Paul Grisham     June 25, 2002
Release Date: June 05, 2002


Kimagure Orange Road TV Vol. #03
© AnimEigo


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!
The first act of the Orange Road story reaches its climax as we come a quarter of the way through the series. There is a fair amount of fluff here, and some of the tougher elements of the show, namely Madoka's bad girl attitude, have given way to a softer and gentler form of comedy. But the show continues to hold me securely in its thrall, thanks mostly to the developing chemistry between Kyosuke and Madoka, but also because of the show's snappy pacing and ever-twisting developments.

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.)

Things start off with an amusing episode that starts to tie our recurring supporting cast together into one big happy family. Kyosuke, out shopping with Kurumi and Manami runs into Yuusaku, Madoka, and Hikaru. Things get tense when Kurumi wanders off with a strange man, and the team, fearing that Kurumi might be in real trouble, band together to try to find her. Of course Hatta and Komatsu slip out of the woodwork (were they stalking the twins?) and offer their help as well. In a nice twist on Madoka's reputation as a delinquent, she recruits the town's street punks and bullies in the search.

When the group splits up to look, Yuusaku grabs Hikaru, which gives Kyosuke and Madoka some quality time alone together. The search takes them to the "Lover's Forest", a park with a reputation as a make out location. This leads to some rather funny moments where Kyosuke and Madoka get chastised by adults who don't think children belong in such a place. It is the little moments like this, when everybody but Kyosuke and Madoka assume they are in love, but they themselves cannot acknowledge it, that gives the show some of its finest moments. In the end, the episode is a minor one, but it gives us a nice break from the ongoing love story and lets us learn a little more about our characters.

The next episode returns to the increasingly stagnant relationship between Kyosuke and Hikaru. Kyosuke has a dream in which Hikaru dies. Afraid that the dream might be a manifestation of his Power, he becomes concerned for her health, even going so far as to cancel a lunch date with his Madoka to be with Hikaru. Eventually, Hikaru learns of the dream, and decides to use it to her advantage. This is really the first time that Hikaru uses manipulation and deception to try to get to Kyosuke, but we get the feeling that it won't be the last. Madoka herself sinks pretty low, manipulating Yuusuke's affections for Hikaru to get back at Kyosuke.

Most anime romances rely on stock clichés to keep things interesting. Perhaps my least favorite is the dramatic misunderstanding, where two minutes of explanation would clear things up, defusing the situation, but the characters simply cannot be honest with each other, allowing things to build up until things get desperate. This kind of misunderstanding forms the framework of the third episode here, where Kyosuke believes that Madoka has met another man and become engaged. To be honest, it's hard to stay mad at this episode, as it features a pitch-perfect reenactment of The Graduate, a movie I totally despise, but find absurdly amusing in mockery. And besides, it's so much fun seeing Kyosuke all dressed up. He can be such a big doofus.

The final episode here brings us back to the beginning and wraps up some of the main themes that have been developing since Kyosuke and Madoka first met at the steps so many months (and episodes) ago. We learn a lot more about Madoka's home life, but it all threatens to come to an end when she is invited to move permanently overseas. The gang must come to terms with the loss of their friend, and Kyosuke begins to realize that his relationship with Madoka will be dead before it even has a chance to born. The two meet once more, on Madoka's last night in Japan, at the top of the steps where they first met, only this time, they are forced to be more honest with each other than they have ever been before. It's a touching scene, and in the episode's final moments, we see how far the two have come as friends, and how important they have become to each other.

Overall, this selection of episodes has a very nice feeling of closure to them, resolving some of the early threads of the story, such as Madoka's gradual acceptance of a kind stranger into her life, while opening some new and interesting directions, like Hikaru's desperation as her relationship with Kyosuke begins to languish. Unfortunately, the episodes here tend to focus more on situational comedy, rather than the richer character drama of the earlier batch of episodes. Things have started to settle into a pattern of introducing a problem, then spending the next 20 minutes attempting to resolve it, with a minimal amount of subtle development in the ongoing love story. I miss the patience of the earlier stories where problems required several episodes, and lots of work on the part of the characters, to get resolved.

Another thing I miss is the grittier and more realistic feel that those earlier episodes have. Madoka and Hikaru's ill reputations only surface when it is suitable to advance the story. Even Hatta and Komatsu, formerly critical of both girls, seem to have accepted them into their circle of friends without complaint at this point. Madoka's secret job at the ABCB cafe, once the source of worry, has seemingly become common knowledge without explanation. Another minor complaint is that the Power has become more and more significant to the development of the plot. Without it, the first two episodes on this disc would have been very different indeed. I appreciate the fantasy elements to the show, and I'm sure it makes Orange Road more appealing to a wider range of viewers, but I fear that the Power will let the characters cheat when things get difficult in their love lives.

Though the episodes here on volume 3 are not quite as evocative as previous volumes, there is still a lot of very fun stuff here. The best part of it is how effectively the writers have built up the characters and situations. Comparing the final episode here to the very first episode, it is impressive to think of how far our characters have come in such a short amount of time. Though the transformations have been dramatic, they have still happened patiently and carefully and believably. It is possible to see through to exactly how we got from there to here.

At this point in the story, our characters, especially Kyosuke, Madoka, and Hikaru, have been doing the best they can to make their way through a confusing and difficult transition from adolescence to adulthood. I suspect many people can empathize with their feelings and even agree with some of the choices they have made. But as their situation becomes more complicated, and the stakes get higher, they will have to make more and more difficult decisions. This may well be the last time in the series I feel such sympathy and understanding for them. Though they are playing at being adults, they are essentially still children, and they will have to make many more mistakes along the way. Personally, I have grown to love these characters, and I suspect that watching them will be both painful and addictively entertaining. I can't wait to see where things go from here.

The actors are now in character and the props are all on the stage, so it is time for the second act to begin!




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)

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