The first season of Kaleido Star burst on the anime scene unexpectedly in 2004 and was quite a critical success. The story of a young girl who wanted to be a circus star wasn't necessarily new, but the strong characters, detailed animation, and entertaining plot made it a very enjoyable show. ADV has now released the entire second season of this show in thin pack cases under the name Kaleido Star: New Wings True Star Collection. Unfortunately this season doesn't come close to capturing the magic and fun of the first season and is a pale imitation of the original.
In the first season of Kaleido Star, Sora Naegino travels to the US from Japan to chase her dream, joining the world famous Kaleido Stage. Though she's talented, young Sora has to prove herself to the current Kaleido Stage cast, especially the star, Lala Hamilton. Over the corse of the season, Sora's skills grow and she slowly wins over the cast with her energetic personality and never-say-die attitude. She even wins over the stuck up Layla. In the end Sora becomes the star's partner and the two of them manage to perform the Legendary Great Maneuver, the ultimate trapeze stunt that leaves the crowd speechless. While performing it though, Layla breaks her arm very badly and has to quit the stage. Layla hands over the staring role to Sora, and puts the care of Kaleido Stage in her capable hands.
With Layla gone, Kaleido Stage is having a tough time of it. The crowds are a bit thin, and to boost attendance the management hires Leon Oswald, the world's greatest trapeze artist. Leon's even more stuck on himself than Layla ever was. On opening night he decides that the talent of the performers, especially Sora, is lacking and leaves in the middle of his first scene. So Sora decides to save the show by performing both roles, hers and Leon's, for the rest of the show. To make matters worse, a new rival jumps on stage during the closing number and challenges Sora's right to headline at the Kaleido Stage. (My gosh, where was security? Do they let just anyone jump in and take part in the show??) May Wong was the highest scoring candidate in this year's crop of applicants to the Stage, and she insists that she's going to be the next Layla Hamilton.
Leon doesn't think much of either Sora or May, saying that their amazing acrobatics are boring and trite. Now both gymnasts are vying to meet with Leon's approval so they can declare themselves a true Kaleido Star. This gives the creators a lot of opportunity to craft some pretty unbelievable circumstances where the two rivals try to beat each other in various competitions.
A lot of the situations in this season are just absurd and it's nearly impossible for viewers to suspend their disbelief. (Something anime fans are quite good at, I might add.) In one episode May challenges Sora to an ice skating competition. The only thing is that Sora doesn't know how to skate and May is a world class athlete at the sport. Poor Sora only has three days to learn how to skate, can she possibly do it??? No, of course not. It's stupid to even think that someone could become a top skater in three days, but Sora does in this show. A similar situation happens when Sora travels to New York to see Layla in her off-Broadway play. Layla gives her friend a part in the play. May, who has tagged along for no reason, gets one too. Layla assigns the two rivals a dance number which they have to choreograph and perfect in a single day. Yeah right.
The later part of the series has Sora traveling to France with Leon where, in a situation very reminiscent of the first season, she is pushed to near her breaking limit in order to perfect an ultra-difficult move: the Angel's Maneuver.
*sigh* This season really falls flat. The creators are trying to recreate the exact same situations that Sora faced in the first season, but the problem is that Sora isn't the same person anymore. She grew and changed of the first show (that's part of why it was so good) and they can't just run her through the same problems once again, it just doesn't ring true.
Another thing that really bothered me was the way many of the characters treated Sora. Has everyone forgotten what she did in the last season? She performed the "Ultimate Maneuver", something that no one had ever done before. As this season begins everyone seems to have forgotten that Sora is a fantastic athlete. Instead of building on that, they seemed to throw out the charm of the first season and added a group of unbelievable characters and situations. This season is just a big disappointment.
This DVD has a 2.0 Japanese soundtrack and a 5.1 English dub. The sound quality was very good in both tracks. The voices were clear and there wasn't any hiss or distortion. The English dub was more full and rich, being a 5.1 mix, but I enjoyed the Japanese dub a little bit more. I really disliked a couple of the voices on the English audio track. The actress who voices Sora in the English version has chosen an annoying voice for her. She sounds like a three year old, with a very high-pitched cutesy voice, and it gets old fairly quickly. The dorm leader Sarah's voice had a fake British accent that sounds incredibly inane. The other actors do a good job, but I still prefer the original language track.
I was very happy with the way this show looked. Being a recent show, the full frame picture was very good. The colors were bright and full, and the lines were tight. There was some light aliasing but this was minor it wasn't distracting. This is a nice looking show.
This is a bare bones release.
This is a poor sequel to the fun and enjoyable first season. If
you enjoyed Kaleido Star, as many people did, don't go into this series
hoping for a similar viewing experience. You'll be disappointed.
The creators weren't able to capture the excitement a second time and ended
up with a fairly poor show. Skip it.