Let’s see: Cute girls? Check. Exotic locales? Check. Plenty of panty shots? Check. A doll-like giant, fighting mecha dressed like a French maid? Che…wait, what?
What They Say
On the Mediterranean Sea, there lies the beautiful kingdom of Genes. It is ruled by three lovely, mostly innocent princesses and the power of technology. The surrounding kingdoms all fall one by one to a mysterious Giant Robot (TM). Worse yet, the robot is under the control of several decidedly unattractive Old Guys. When they set their sights on Genes, the Fate of the World (also TM), rests on the maid-outfit-clad shoulders of Kana, the second princess. Born with a special knack for robot technology, Kana and her android companion Rincle are the last line of defense for Genes.
Contains all five episodes!
The only language track available for this release is the Japanese track, which is offered in 2.0. Technically, the sound is fine, as everything comes through clear with no dropout or distortion heard, and there are some especially nice sound effects during the battle scenes. That said, while technically fine, there is also nothing outstanding about the sound. It does its job and little more.
The video is very well done in this release. Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, this show uses a fairly impressive blend of colors, along with some really nice visual effects during the battles, which show up beautifully in this transfer. The combination of cutesy/wacky people and objects (not to mention Junerin) along with the nice, dark, traditional designs of The Big Mighty and The Perfect and the effects in battle is a bit of an odd one, but it is one that is pulled off really well. Studio Fantasia has managed to meld these elements in a way where nothing looks out of place.
Not a whole lot has changed in the packaging in this release from the singles. A thin, card sleeve has been designed to house the singles cases, and it keeps the cute, girly look of the singles releases, but does not reflect the giant robot theme like the singles covers do, which I found to be a shame. I liked that the images on the singles played up both sides of Kirameki Project, cute and mecha, but the front of the box only showcases the cute.
In a nice touch, the front picture of the box uses different imagery from the singles, which is somewhat rare for boxsets. That said, the cover of volume one is reused for the back of the box, which also includes the summary and technical details for the show. The box itself is somewhat flimsy and probably won’t hold up well over the long haul. All in all, the singles cases are quite nice, but the box leaves a little to be desired.
The menus are functional and fit the design of the show well. Each disc reuses some of the imagery from the front covers with the title logo along the top, and the menu selections in a horizontal arrangement along the bottom. The color scheme also matches the case for that disc: pink for volume one and blue of volume two. The theme song plays in the back while on the menu. The selections are easily readable, and the highlight is easy to follow. Overall, good designs.
There are a few nice extras on this release. Aside from the somewhat standard clean openings and closings (including alternates), promo reels and character galleries, the first disc has a five minute interview with Mai Kadowaki (Kana) about her experiences working on the show. The meat of the extras, though are the two twenty-five minute “Behind the Scenes Featurettes” which tour Studio Fantasia and talk about the making/designing of Kirameki Project. This goes pretty in-depth with some of the techniques they used, not to mention the ideas and concepts that went into the planning and designs. These “Behind the Scenes Featurettes” are nice, insider’s looks at what goes on, and what needs to happen, to produce a finished work.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kirameki Project is a title that is hard to pigeonhole into one category. On the one hand, we have cutesy girls doing cutesy things while providing plenty of upskirt shots to keep even the most avid fan happy. On the other, the main focus of the episodes is the pretty decent, giant mecha action that goes on throughout. And did I mention that one of the mecha looks like a child’s doll done up like a maid? It all creates an effect that appears to be both homage and a parody of the mecha genre, but ultimately fails at both.
The tiny, Mediterranean Kingdom of Genes is ruled by three benevolent, innocent Princesses: sisters Klone, Kana, and Nene. Klone, being the eldest, takes the most direct hand in the day-to-day running of the country and is the active leader of the military; Kana is a genius with robotics, not to mention a bit obsessed; and Nene, despite having her heart in the right place, is continually determined to prove herself as a great hero, usually with disastrous results. All three are still in school, and therefore come off as a bit naïve at times, but are beloved by all their citizens.
A giant robot called Super Great has been rampaging through the world, wrecking all the competition ahead of the robot competition coming up in the next year at the behest of their corporate overlords. Despite a stingy budget, the crew of four, led by corporate designer Chief Ohya, and their mechanics are convinced they have built the best robot. After polishing off their competition in Germany, they receive word of a secret robot being built in Genes and go to challenge it too.
Despite their unprovoked attacks, the pilots of the redubbed The Big Mighty avoid civilian casualties and injuries as much as possible, preferring to fight a dual with the rival robot and leaving once done. When they arrive in Genes, they do not find a giant robot, but instead find themselves beset by the Genesian military, not to mention Princess Nene decked out in a fully functional, not to mention slightly revealing, magical girl outfit designed by Kana. While Nene gets a few good shots in, ultimately Nene and the military are swept aside with little effort.
At this point, Klone turns to Kana, who has, in fact, designed the robot the pilots of The Big Mighty came to fight. Kana is reluctant to send her robot into battle, as she considers all of the robots she built to be part of her extended family. In many ways, her helper robot, Rincle, is more of a sister to Kana than either Klone or Nene. Kana is ultimately convinced to send her creation to fight, if only to save the population.
Enter Junerin. Looking every part the kind, helper maid of any harem comedy, its appearance is the farthest thing from anybody’s mind when considering the design of a great fighting robot. While Junerin may not look the part, she is very capable of holding her own in battle as repeated victories over The Big Mighty show. However, Junerin appears to meet her match with the appearance of a new challenger in the form of The Perfect, which does not stand on the same honor that The Big Mighty did, and an alliance between Kana and Chief Ohya seems to be the only thing that will tip the scales in Junerin’s favor.
Kirameki Project is a title that does not really fit in any predefined concept of genre. Equal parts wacky pantyfest and serious mecha, with a little of the sort of humor usually reserved for harem comedy added for good measure, makes for quite the unique show. If it sounds a little bizarre and nonsensical, then you are thinking along the right track. In a way, I appreciate that Studio Fantasia is attempting to push the boundaries a little bit and play with the stereotypes, but ultimately my final reaction to the OVA series is: Eh.
I did really like the design of the show, as Genes resembles every part of an island paradise and each person has their own distinct look reflecting their personalities. Klone’s kind face, well proportioned body, and relaxed clothing reveals her level headed and motherly nature, while Kana looks every part the shy, techie with her big glasses and worried expressions and Nene’s self-absorbed and outgoing attitude is manifested in her way-overdeveloped-for-her-age body, tight clothes, and smug looks. Ohya, the respectful company man, Junerin, the protective robot, and Rincle, the do-it-all helper robot, all look their parts, as do all of the other secondary characters this show uses.
However, as much as I love the design, it cannot overcome the complete lack of any sort of complexity of the plot. Every character fits a role, and there is little-to-no progress in terms of character arcs and development. The result is a product that comes off as flat and does nothing to hold interest throughout. The best part of the story is the inclusion of very out-of-place Junerin as the ultimate fighting machine, but that novelty wears off fairly quickly. Even the revelation that Junerin has different outfits for different situations only caused an initial chuckle.
Even the areas where complexity of character was introduced were mainly left unexplored. When The Big Mighty returns to Japan the first time, he discovers that he has an old bookmark that bears the royal seal of Genes, hinting at an unknown link. When he is later captured by Kana, he finds a kindred spirit in terms of interest, and is surprised to find that she reminds him a lot of his own daughter Momoko, who is roughly the same age. Momoko does not share Ohya’s love for robots, preferring more traditional female pursuits, though did when she was younger.
Since it is mentioned that Kana’s father is from Japan, it seems that we are supposed to consider that Ohya might actually be Kana’s father, potentially even switched at some point with Momoko, whose interests and personality are more in line with Klone and Nene. However, despite being an important plot thread, it is dropped rather quickly and left behind without even the most rudimentary of conclusions. While it can be considered that they left it open-ended for the viewer to come to his/her own conclusions, it was not handled well.
As odd as it sounds, this show is really too long for what it tries to do; or alternatively, they do not do enough with the time they have. They take five episodes to accomplish a plot that could have been done just as effectively in two or three, and I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more than I did if it was shorter. Kirameki Project kept me interested for most of the first disc (three episodes), but was starting to labor by the end of episode three. The fact that at that point I still had a second disc of two episodes to watch almost seemed unfair. If they had paid off the Ohya/Kana arc in any way, it might have left a better taste, but as it stands, the show is roughly double the length it should be.
Despite the lack of even a decent story, I would be hard pressed to really call Kirameki Project a bad show. While it certainly is also not a good show, I can see it being one that would have a very niche audience. For me, my final attitude towards it is one of indifference. I do not regret having watched it, but I also am not better for having done so either. Nothing truly horrendous, nor truly great, it is a show that exists and nothing more. If the idea of giant, fighting, robotic maid and lots of panty shots from all parties (including Junerin) sounds intriguing, then I suppose at $20 and five episodes, Kirameki Project would not put too much of a dent in your wallet or afternoon, but I certainly would not recommend it for anybody else.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Promos, Character Galleries, Interviews, Behind the Scenes Featurettes
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Memorex MVD2042 Progressive Scan w/ DD/DTS (Component Connection), Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System