Paradise Kiss Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Paradise Kiss

Paradise Kiss Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     April 30, 2007
Release Date: April 17, 2007


Paradise Kiss Vol. #3
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
As Yukari feverishly catches up on makeup exams, the "Parakiss" crew works diligently on the gown in preparation for the YSD Fashion Show -- will their centerpiece design take first place? In the aftermath of graduation and the advent of a new year, George and Yukari must determine if they still have a future together, as individual dreams and goals pull them into opposite directions. Which paths will they take in order to realize their full potential and what becomes of everyone else in this emotionally heartrending conclusion?

The Review!
With so many ways to bring the series to a close, Paradise Kiss does so as only a short run manga would where there's no intention of continuing things on forever.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Both languages are done in just a stereo mix which isn't much of a problem for the show since it is generally just a dialogue piece with music. The music though, from the incidental to the closing song, really needed to be done in something a bit cleaner and more dynamic. The Japanese track is solid throughout though with plenty of directionality for the dialogue as well as background sounds. The car in particular comes across really well here when it's kicking in. We didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The folks at Madhouse were brought in to animate this show and their style meshes really well with the original look of the manga. Not uncommon, a lot of backgrounds are colored photographs that give the show a slightly different feel and it's well represented here. Colors look good, black levels are nice and deep and the show is free of problems such as cross coloration and aliasing. Where the problem lies here, and it's not truly a problem, is that the animation was done in such a way to give it a very grainy feel. The reproduction of that here is accurate to what I've seen on the Japanese release earlier in the year. The transfer for this is likely to get a lot of criticism but it is to my knowledge doing an accurate representation of the source material as best as it can under the limitations of DVD. I can see this being done in HD with a higher bitrate and retaining even more of a film-like feel and not quite as alive as it seems here.

Packaging:
The Japanese artwork is used once again and similar to the second volume it's easy to see why it's going to be such a hard sell. With it being of Isabella where the Parakiss bar is behind her, it's not a design that really sells to a fresh new audience. It would appeal to fans of the manga and those that saw the series broadcast in Japan but for here it just feels weak even as well designed as it is. The back cover keeps to the fashion oriented theme and a simple but effective layout. The opening and closing songs are given prominence and there's a good layout of the discs features alongside the summary and a few shots from the show. It's a bit minimal in some ways with a bit more open space than usual around the production credits and technical information. Sadly, it doesn't have the grid but is still fairly easy at figuring out when combined with the features section. The cover is reversible with another of the Japanese covers that would work much better I think as it has George and Yukari together. The backside mirrors the main back cover. The insert has another shot of the front cover while the reverse side lists the episodes on this volume, rundown of the previous volumes and a rather good ad from TOKYOPOP for the manga for the series.

Menu:
The menu design keeps to the blue roses and petal theme with a deep border of them that glisten with lights moving over it. Through the center a brief selection of clips from the show plays set to some upbeat instrumental music that sets the mood nicely. Navigation is quick and easy with a direct episode access design and menus load quickly while moving about. The disc unfortunately doesn't read our player presets and defaults to English language with sign/song subtitles. Though the menu isn't anything that's terribly amazing, it is a solid piece that looks good and fits well with the show.

Extras:
The final volume has some good extras to it particularly for the fans of the music. There is a fifteen minute round-table discussion among the director and the two involved in the music including some jam session material. The discussion is quite laid back and like a lot of similar extras on other series it's filled with smoke and alcohol. Also included in this release are clean versions of the opening and closings and a new round of concept artwork. Another nice extra for this last round is the "Design by Fashion" artwork submitted to the contest that Geneon ran that won in the various categories. Congrats to all who entered and got their artwork included on the release.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Paradise Kiss has been an interesting show to watch since it was one of the first manga I got into when TOKYOPOP "began the revolution" of that industry. It was unlike anything else I had been able to read up to that point and it kicked off my desire to read a lot of varied material I never had easy access to before. With it being a few years since that ended, going into the anime reminded me heavily of that time. The series has seemingly portrayed it well compared to my memory of it though there are just some quirks that don't work well in this medium.

The final four episodes of the series has us in a similar place to where we were at the beginning. Yukari has left George and returned home to dive back into her missed school work. The exams are coming up and she needs to get into that mindset again, something that's fairly easy with some of the friends she has in school. In the days since she's left George however, she's been thinking of him a lot and though she tries to deny it she wishes he'd call. As she's going through these motions and emotions, George and the others from Parakiss are working hard towards the show and preparing things there. There are some very cute moments, such as when Hamada catches them doing work on it during school hours, but there are also some very beautiful moments.

These moments tend to focus around the secondary characters of the show, though it's hard to really call them that since it is an ensemble for the most part. Isabella finally gets her episode as we see her past, from when she first met George at a young age and how she dealt with being a transgendered child. Isabella has been an interesting character to watch for what little they really do with her since she's not flamboyant or flashy in the sense of other shows that try to do similar characters. Exposing the early years and some of what's gone on with her parents helps to showcase a bit more of who she is but also why she's so close to George. In a strange way, they are truly the ideal couple.

Miwako and Arashi also have some decent scenes as the problems between them start to come to a head. Miwako's relationship with Hiroyuki, which is essentially quite innocent, is something that strikes hard at Arashi's heart even though he knows it shouldn't. That it drives him to read her email on her cell phone illustrates just the kind of insecurities that plague him over it. The relationship he has with Miwako is one that's strange to look at, with him being forceful and her looking so young, but its lack of convention is one that makes it appealing. Seeing them work through their problems in a very human manner, from ignoring each other to the tense confrontations, is another layer of the series that really gives it its humanity.

Naturally, the fashion show is where things hit the highest notes here, which of course is tied to the relationship between George and Yukari. The two of them have had an unusual relationship though it does become even more obvious how inexperienced Yukari is. Her quick judgment and jealousy over the return of Kaori to George's life for just a few days almost has her seeming shrill and overly protective. George has been though a number of relationships and the one between his parents have defined his perspective a lot. His desire for a strong willed woman who will say her piece isn't something he'll easily find. In a telling moment when the two meet for the first time in over a week, she complains that he never called. To which he said the same about her, essentially implying that she is just as capable if she wants to be. These are the small but key moments in any relationship that will help define whether it will work in the long term or not.

The fashion show itself is a moment of beauty where only certain scenes from the series Gankutsuou really rival. George's design, combined with the quick fixes when the accessories run into problems, is a real highlight of the series. The focus is of course on the relationships, but the fashion show sequences from the preparation to the run on the walkway are just perfect. Yukari's ability to pull off the outfit that he designed is spot on as is her sense of pride over it. In particular, the follow-up scenes about the picture that she had taken and other pictures in the future speak volumes of familial relationships. The time on the walkway constitutes those couple of minutes of heaven that few series really achieve. Everything clicks at this point and it's a beautiful and perfect moment.

In Summary:
Just like a lot of aspects of this series, where you are in your own life and your experiences will color whether this show works for you or not. Between the relationships and the desire to create, I have to believe that the more varied your own background the more you will get out of the show. Each character offers a different connection to work with and each of them bring something very different to the show in general. Combined with the artistic beauty of the series from its characters to backgrounds and the sense of style, when taken in full it's something that stands out well. It's hard to imagine this having a real mainstream appeal but it is exactly the kind of show that I wish there was more of. Fans of the manga may get more out of this but I have to believe that it can reach beyond that and connect with far more people. Geneon has done just about everything right with Paradise Kiss and has added a solid new jewel to their collection.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Musical Staff Round-Table Discussion,Textless Opening,Textless Ending,Commentary by the English version cast and crew,Character Concept Art,DVD-ROM Manga Preview

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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