Kimagure Orange Road TV Vol. #11 - Mania.com



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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. #11

By Paul Grisham     February 28, 2003
Release Date: June 05, 2002


Kimagure Orange Road TV Vol. #11
© 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!
Content: A (episode 43) / C (episodes 41, 42, and 44)

For one brief moment, Kimagure Orange Road steps outside of the comfortable and predictable formula it has established for itself, delivering a flawed, but stirring, episode that, for many fans, will stand as a landmark accomplishment for the series. Unfortunately, the other three episodes on this disc present the very worst of the series, illustrating exactly what has gone wrong with this series since its auspicious beginnings.

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.)

The show has become little more than a lightweight version of Urusei Yatsura. In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with that, as Urusei Yatsura is a great show, but Kimagure Orange Road lacks the wit and irony of Rumiko Takahashi’s classic and is capable of so much more than the cheap gags it is aspiring to. The writing and plotting in the early episodes was strong enough that the gimmicky stories here come as something of a disappointment.

The first episode here, is a Power-centric episode in which Kyosuke’s Grandpa has given him a very special pocket watch with the capability of stopping time. That kind of Power is simply too powerful, and in typical Kimagure fashion, Kyosuke uses it for all the wrong reasons, mainly to score points with the ladies. Later, Kyosuke’s gang team up for a kind of impromptu couples tennis tournament, where the winning teammates have to kiss. Kyosuke and Hikaru wind up together, again, with Madoka and Yuusaku on another team. No one especially wants to win (save for Hikaru) but Kyosuke is so determined to keep Madoka from kissing anyone else that he uses the pocket watch to cheat.

Basically, this isn’t a story about our characters. The setup here is totally implausible (who would agree to such a tournament, given the dearth of decent guys in the show?) and relies entirely on the Power as a means for getting Kyosuke into trouble. The tennis tournament subplot itself is unnecessary, and the manner in which every character seems to behave out of character is dissatisfying. And besides, didn’t we already cover the tennis tournament angle before? The plot repetition is somewhat disappointing. And since when has Kyosuke been so free and easy with his use of the Power? In this episode, he comes off as a malicious version of Kurumi. And since when do objects carry Powers? And would a normal person be able to use the watch? This episode opens the door to questions that the show should never allow to be asked.

The next episode introduces Sumire, a girl who develops deep romantic feelings for Madoka. While Madoka is flattered, she simply does not reciprocate those feelings, and Sumire takes on more aggressive measures to win Madoka’s heart. Since Sumire does not respond to Madoka’s rejection, Hikaru comes up with a plan to drive Sumire away by staging a love scene between Kyosuke and Madoka, which will show, once and for all, that Sumire has no chance with Madoka.

The episode is simply awful, as there is no rhyme or reason for anything that happens. Who on earth put Hikaru in charge of things? It’s fairly clear that she suspects that there is more than just passing attraction between Kyosuke and Madoka, so why didn’t she try to set her up with, say, Hatta? The whole scene is nothing more than an excuse to set up another confessionus interuptus between two people who should have gotten together 20 episodes ago. But surprisingly, that isn’t the most wrong-headed part of this episode.

Homosexuality has always seemed to have a place in anime and manga, especially in relationship stories for women. It is terribly surprising, then, that Kimagure Orange Road, a show with a great big heart and a lot of sympathy for teenage problems, could have such a heartless view towards the budding lesbian, Sumire. Sumire comes off as annoying, cruel, fickle, and, ultimately, dangerous to others and to herself. Why can’t her teenage feelings of homosexuality be treated more gracefully? Must Sumire be portrayed as a psychotic manipulator, who tries to crush anything that gets between her and the object of her desire?

The sole bright point on this disc is the third episode, in which the gang decides to put together a rock band for the town music festival. Since nobody, save Madoka, has any real musical talent, they get some help from the band Madoka plays with, last seen during the summer vacation episodes. During their rehearsals, Yukari and her boyfriend have a fight and seemingly break up. That night, after dropping Madoka off at home, Kyosuke runs into Yukari and winds up staying all night with her, talking and drinking. Word that Kyosuke never came home last night gets around, leading to rumors that Kyosuke must lie about to keep from hurting Hikaru’s feelings. But when Kyosuke’s lies are discovered, he winds up hurting Madoka as well.

Though this plot is not especially different from about a dozen other episodes, there are a number of substantial differences between it and most of the rest of the series. Perhaps most noticeable, the lighthearted style of the series has been replaced with a more spare and often experimental style. The characters seem heavier and more thoughtful than they have recently, with long shots of pained and wistful looks, taking the basic formula of the show, and turning it into high drama. Given the theme of pain and forgiveness, there is very little of the typical humor here, and even Kazuya plays his role as a child in a straight and unassuming fashion. The return of Yukari is welcome here, as she brings an adult perspective to the show. Her sex appeal, especially for Kyosuke, is totally different from Madoka’s, and illustrates the differences between the complexities of real love, and the games these kids are playing at.

The heart of the episode for most people, however, will be an extended finale, when Kyosuke’s Powers explode in a fit of regret and he searches to find forgiveness from Hikaru. Taken literally, the ending is quite silly, though I won’t exactly spoil it for you here. Instead, the ending plays out as a kind of visual poem, a figurative expression of the feelings raging through Kyosuke and Hikaru. Unlike the other episodes of the series, this episode should be read more expressively and not literally.

And perhaps, that is exactly what is most wrong with this episode. In order to enjoy it properly, one must abandon the typical methods of interpreting a Kimagure Orange Road episode, and apply new rules and new readings to it. Though this is one of the better episodes of the series, this is simply not an episode I would show to a newcomer. While the episode is artistically and emotionally successful, it seems like an abandonment of principle to throw away the capricious “feel” of Kimagure Orange Road in order to achieve some depth. There are a handful of Urusei Yatsura episodes like this, especially the theatrical release, Lum the Forever, which abandons the show’s wackier elements for a deeper context. Sometimes a shift in dramatic style works, just as it works here. I appreciate the courage and boldness in abandoning a successful formula to try something new, but I am left wondering why the show had to completely change gears in order to deliver a satisfying viewing experience, especially amidst the mediocrity of the second half of this series. Though stunning and mature, and a good episode in its own right, this episode at times betrays the rest of the show.

The final episode in this collection continues to demonstrate how the show has long ago run out of good ideas. Just as the Christmas episode was virtual retread of the birthday party episode, this one plays all the old ideas from the earlier episode in which Kazuya switches bodies with Kyosuke. It was funny then, because it was unexpected, and because Kazuya often seemed wiser than his age. In this episode, where Kazuya switches places with Kyosuke on Valentine’s Day in a plot to steal his chocolate, the whole thing comes off as tired.

Kazuya started out as one of the better characters, able to cut through the tangles that were making our love triangle sticky. Here, he’s very much part of the problem, and as such, very, very annoying. The episode once again sets up situations and conflicts that it has no intention of resolving, leading to an ending that is predictable, and without any consequences or continuity. Before, we were lucky to get some pretty good holiday specials for Christmas and New Year’s, but the Valentine’s special, rather than being something romantic and beautiful, is a complete throwaway, better suited for the wastebasket.

The show only has a few episodes remaining, but after three utterly pointless episodes here, I’m having less and less confidence that the show will end with anything less than a whimper.



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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