Kimagure Orange Road TV Vol. #04 - 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. #04

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


Kimagure Orange Road TV Vol. #04
© 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!
With the romantic tension in high gear, Orange Road returns with a whimsical story about honesty and loyalty, two fun but sappy episodes on being yourself, and the first real disappointment of the series.

Audio:
The only audio track is the original Japanese version – basically a unidirectional stereo mix. The audio is clear, but sometimes a little flat.

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 flickering quality at times. This instability is probably due to the a combination of noise reduction and edge enhancement. This volume seems to suffer from more wobble than previous volumes.

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. 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.)

Madoka has decided to stay in Japan, and things have returned a bit to life as normal, well, as normal as they get. The first two episodes here tone down the drama, juice up the comedy, and provide a thematically linked mini-arc on the perils of trying to be something you aren't to impress the person you like.

Hikaru likes Kyosuke. Kyosuke likes Madoka. Both Hikaru and Kyosuke struggle with feelings of inadequacy with respect to the people they desire. Both of them feel like they are being treated like children, and both of them decide to do something about it, attempting to become more adult, more like the person they think is desirable, to humorously disastrous result.

Hikaru attempts to jumpstart Kyosuke's flagging interest in her by dressing more seductively. She goes whole hog here – makeup, earrings, high heels, trampy clothes – and it works fabulously. Hikaru gets lots of attention from all the boys, and poor Kyosuke is helpless in the thrall of Hikaru's transformation. He had been planning to invite Madoka to a rock concert, but after seeing how sweet little Hikaru has become a sex goddess, he throws out that plan and invites Hikaru instead. The whole situation comes crashing down, however, when Kyosuke makes a boneheaded mistake. The episode ends with an Afterschool Special-style moral, and gives the whole thing a contrived feeling.

Hikaru realizes her mistake in trying to change herself to fit someone else's desires, but Kyosuke apparently wasn't paying attention. In the very next episode, he has a prophetic dream in which Madoka calls him a weakly coward. After seeing Madoka wrestling at a women's gym, he decides that he must do something to become stronger. In order to keep from disappointing her, he recruits Yuusaku to teach him some karate. Hikaru got her lesson down with just a little embarrassment, but for poor, dumb Kyosuke it literally requires him to get the snot beat out of him before he realizes just how silly he's been.

Though the episode was mainly quite silly, it ends very satisfyingly with a nice scene of playful flirting between Madoka and Kyosuke. The way they touch each other and talk shows just how close they have become. They have a familiarity and even an intimacy with each other that does not seem at all unexpected given the things they've gone through together. But here one must begin questioning Madoka's behavior and motives. One minute she is flirting and engaging with Kyosuke, the next minute she is pushing him into Hikaru arms. In retrospect the episode where Hikaru transforms her image to seduce Kyosuke is more insightful about Madoka than either Hikaru or Kyosuke.

Madoka's inner conflict over her feelings comes into focus in the next episode. Hikaru has returned to her old self, but Kyosuke is becoming increasingly distracted, and their relationship seems just about over. Distraught, Hikaru turns to her best friend for help, and Madoka, surprisingly, tells her to stay as close to him as possible and things will work out. We all know that Madoka has feelings for Kyosuke, but here we finally get to see some of the reasons behind her recent actions.

Though there are some lovely scenes here (particularly one which ties in to the modeling session a few episodes back), the episode is ultimately shallow. The episode says a lot, but tells us very little. By the end, the crisis has reached a boiling point, but the writers refuse to tell us how it gets resolved. Madoka and Kyosuke, face-to-face, mouths opening as if to speak, as the screen fades to black. What did they say? What is Madoka really feeling? How can Kyosuke make the situation right? Just this once, I feel like the writers have let us down, using cheap theatrics to drag us along.

Far better is the final episode, easily the best episode on this disc. Watching the preview for the episode, I was filled with a sense of overwhelming dread. It looked like just another silly fluff episode, but I was surprised at how the episode unfolded into a challenging little dilemma with the tone and spirit of some of the better storytelling of the second volume.

Madoka and Kyosuke are walking home together one evening, when suddenly, from behind the clouds, something that they can only describe as a UFO emerges. Kyosuke quickly grabs his camera and gets a snapshot of it. When Kyosuke gets home he discovers, to his chagrin, that Manami and Kurumi have been watching flying saucer films all night, and have been using their powers carelessly to create flying objects around the apartment building. Fearing that the secret of the family's Power will be exposed if word gets out, Kyosuke convinces Madoka to keep the incident a secret. Unfortunately, word still gets out that Madoka saw a UFO and causes a bit of a stir at school. When Kyosuke is asked to confirm the sighting, out of fear he denies it, leaving Madoka to be humiliated by the other students who believe that she is just trying to get attention.

This episode worked because it connected with me on a number of levels. The story of a boy selling out the girl he loves to protect himself and his own reputation is an old one. Here, the fantasy elements give us just enough indirection to keep the story light and engaging without seeming preachy. Kyosuke can be a clod at times, but mostly he is trying to do the right thing, for himself, his family, and for the girls he likes. This episode shows just how hard it is to know what that right thing is – in fact, I still don't know what the right thing was for that situation.

I had higher expectations for these episodes, especially after the high drama at the end of volume 3. There is some really good stuff here, especially a well-animated motorcycle chase, a Freudian slip of epic proportions, and a long and knowing look between Madoka and Kyosuke at the end of the third episode. Mostly, however, these episodes are less than the sum of their parts, providing little real insight into these characters. The writers seem to be on cruise control for the time being. There's nothing really bad here, but after so much careful buildup and promise, we don't seem to be going anywhere yet.

The return to form in the last episode on this disc gives me greater hope that things will get back on track by the next volume.




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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