Kimagure Orange Road TV Vol. #09 - 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. #09

By Paul Grisham     December 28, 2002
Release Date: June 05, 2002


Kimagure Orange Road TV Vol. #09
© 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!
Kimagure Orange Road initially surprised me with an honest and understanding take on teenage life and love, but as the Power has become more central to the show’s formula, the story becomes less grounded in reality. Consequently, I find myself increasingly impatient with the lack of progress in the larger story.

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 flickering quality at times. This instability is probably due to a combination of noise reduction and edge enhancement.

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.)

After focusing on the supporting cast members, giving them a chance to shine in the spotlight, this collection of four episodes returns the focus to the main love triangle of Kyosuke, Madoka, and Hikaru. This return to form would be most welcome, except for the way in which the writers have constructed outlandish situations in which to test our young lovers without actually pressuring them into a true confrontation.

Without explanation, we join the gang, including the master of the ABCB and Kazuya, as they go out on a mushroom gathering trip in the woods. Kyosuke has engineered the pairings so that he can spend the day with Madoka, but his clever plan backfires and he winds up with Hikaru instead, leaving Hikaru ecstatic and Madoka sullen. The story is complicated by the introduction of a very rare mushroom, which causes all who eat it to speak only the truth, even to the point of their deepest and darkest secrets.

Once again, Kurumi’s ill-advised use of the power combined with the special mushrooms leads to typical Kimagure hijinks. It’s an interesting setup, to be sure, but for some reason the whole thing doesn’t seem to carry enough weight to be interesting for a full half-hour. When Madoka accidentally eats of the mushroom, she immediately confesses her real feelings for Kyosuke. From there, the episode goes downhill, with one string of coincidences after another keeping our young lovers from being honest with each other, despite the mushrooms. The game was fun before, but it’s just tiring here. Madoka and Kyosuke belong together, want to be together, but for some reason they allow the charade with Hikaru to go on. After several iterations of this theme, there are only so many times it can continue to be interesting.

Continuing the autumn travels theme from the previous episode, Kyosuke, et. al., travel into the mountains to the home of Kyosuke’s mother’s family. Kyosuke and his sisters get their Power from their mother’s side of the family, and his grandparents are very strong with it. Kyosuke must work very hard to try to keep his secrets from his friends, as his grandparents have no particular issue with using the Power openly. In a limited role, the grandparents turn out to be nice additions to the cast, lighthearted, whimsical, and unencumbered by the social obstacles that prevent our primary cast from being completely open and honest with each other.

In the second half of the episode, we get two nice developments. Returning to the more romantic flavor of the better episodes, we learn the story behind Kyosuke’s parent’s love and courtship. It’s a wonderfully sweet story, though at times, it seems deeper and more rewarding than Kyosuke and Madoka’s troubled courtship. The episode also gets a nice dash of drama, when a fierce storm descends on the mountains. Madoka falls into a raging river, and it is up to Kyosuke to try to save her. The counterpoint of these two stories works nicely, and as far as the filler episodes go, this is an enjoyable one, despite the fact that it takes nearly half its running time to get going.

Perhaps the best part of Kimagure Orange Road’s approach to the Kasugas' supernatural Power is how it’s always portrayed as being more trouble than it’s worth. In the third episode in this collection, Kyosuke’s self-hypnosis powers get him into trouble again, only this time, Kasuga finds himself highly susceptible to everyone’s suggestions. Everyone realizes that Kyosuke is acting strangely, but without understanding his Power, nobody knows quite what to make of his odd behavior. Only Komatsu and Hatta realize what a grand opportunity the situation provides, taking advantage of their friend’s current weakness by tasking him with a variety of naughty things, including stealing panties and even taking nude photos of Madoka.

Overall, the episode is quite humorous, using the character’s core personalities and inter-personal relationships better than the mushroom episode. For the formula of Kimagure Orange Road to work best, I suppose, it is necessary for the Power to operate in only a limited fashion, with all the other characters behaving normally. In the mushroom episode, the entire cast gets affected in some way, creating a chaos that the story simply cannot support. Here, with only Kyosuke affected, things are much more controlled, and the humor and drama, when it strikes, is far more potent.

The final episode here is the one that, at first, promises to throw the whole thing wide open. When the gang gets together to create a student film for a class project, Komatsu and Hatta catch Kyosuke using the Power, and realize their friend has been living a secret life. Determined to get more conclusive proof of his powers, they set up one dangerous situation after another on the movie set, attempting to force Kyosuke to teleport himself to safety on film.

This is the episode I suspected would have to be made from very early on in the series, though, certainly, I could not have predicted this method of letting it play out. In the forefront, is the film that the gang is producing, a spoof of a popular TV drama about undercover cops infiltrating a girls’ gang. That, in itself, is quite amusing, given Madoka and Hikaru’s past as troubled girls.

Even without the Power subplot, the making of this film would have been a strong enough story for its own episode. However, coupled with Kyosuke’s desperate attempts to keep his family’s secrets hidden, the episode takes on an additional depth. The only complaint I really had with this episode was the pure cruelty that Kyosuke’s friends exact upon him, especially the usually kind Hikaru. The episode ends with a nice twist that suggests that Madoka might not quite be clueless about the whole situation, a nice harbinger of future episodes.

Overall, this set of episodes was a little stronger than the previous ones, offering some humorous moments, though none that really stand out above the others. There were hints of the more romantic elements that had made the summer episodes so wonderful, but mostly, these episodes played simply for laughs. It also appears as though the show is completely unwilling to tinker with the core formula, allowing the various ongoing subplots to languish, unresolved. Even the episode in which Kyosuke’s Power is revealed doesn’t really resolve anything conclusively or change the nature of the characters’ relationships.

These are decent episodes, and, with the exception of the mushroom episode, worthwhile viewing for anyone who has enjoyed what has come before. Even though these episodes don’t really distinguish themselves from the rest of the series, by maintaining a generally high level of lightheartedness and tenderness, they are still more enjoyable than many of the romantic comedies that are being released today.



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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