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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Paradise Kiss Box Set
Paradise Kiss Box Set
Geneon // Unrated // September 23, 2008
List Price: $49.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted January 20, 2009 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Show:

With the acquisition of some Geneon licenses here in the States, FUNimation continues to release a backlog of titles by the defunct publisher. We've been whittling away at reviews of these shows as they come through, and one of the most recent such releases is Paradise Kiss. Produced by Aniplex and Madhouse, Paradise Kiss originally aired in Japan in 2005 and was brought over to our shores a year later. Typically when you see a show rushed like that it means something good and in the case of this series that's exactly the case.

The thing that's most appealing about Paradise Kiss is its uniqueness. So often in anime we see shows that look alike, have all-too-familiar themes, or characters cookie cut from the book of stereotypes. You'll find none of those things here. The original manga by Ai Yazawa was made popular by her unique sense of style and thankfully all twelve episodes of the animated version keep what was fun about it intact.

Spread across three DVDs Paradise Kiss starts out like many other shows of its kind. The focus is on a young girl, Yukari, who is cramming hard to get ready for the next step in her life. With a lot of parental pressure Yukari slowly begins to crack. She has basically become a recluse due to her overbearing mother and an insurmountable workload. To say that things are reaching a boiling point in Yukari's life would be an understatement, but that all changes when she bumps into an eclectic group of fashion students in the midst of a big project.

To preface the shocking nature of her involvement with the students let me just add that Yukari has lived a sheltered life. She's somewhat distant, reserved, and proper, as you'd expect from somebody with an overbearing mother. Because of that when she meets these kids she's naturally put-off by them somewhat. As she gets to know them though, her opinion changes and soon enough events are set into motion that could change her future for good.

The fashion students have formed a group known as Paradise Kiss. The team consisting of Arashi, Miwako, Isabella, and George each brings something unique to the show. Isabella, for instance, is a cross-dresser, Miwako is a pink-haired Lolita and Arashi is her punk boyfriend. George is a much more interesting subject matter because his aloof and cool nature leaves an impression on Yukari. She seems transfixed by him and much of the time spent in Paradise Kiss explores the relationship that develops between them. What's nice about this couple is the fact that it's anything but standard. There are some real emotional moments here with some adult themes typically not explored in shows such as this. It lends some realistic weight to the whole affair that builds and builds with every episode.

Aside from the focus on Yukari and George hooking up and everything that happens because of that, Paradise Kiss tells a story about an upcoming fashion show and what the students want from Yukari. Because she's strikingly pretty the group has decided that she's the perfect model for their project. The show weaves this element in between the relationship and life drama that its characters face between points a and b. It's all expertly crafted and the manner with which it's handled will leave you flying through this show from one episode to the next.

From start to finish Paradise Kiss is a fascinating show with an adult atmosphere, a realistic feeling world, and characters that leave an impression. The writing is top notch, the voice acting is gold, and all around this is a solid production by Madhouse. With the obvious slant towards fashion the art direction is a cut above as well with a great attention to detail and fluid animation. Paradise Kiss may not be the most mainstream title on the market, but it's definitely one that's worth checking out. My only beef with the show is that the twelve episodes feel drastically short. Consider it highly recommended.

The DVD:

Video:

Paradise Kiss receives an anamorphic widescreen presentation and the picture quality is quite stunning, which compliments the show's design perfectly. The colors are vibrant, the video is quite clean, and from start to finish there's very little to gripe about in terms of flaws. This is one of the sharpest shows I have seen in a while and the only thing I can even spot worth mentioning is the presence of some slightly grain in parts. The ironic part is that element seems to have more to do with the production of the series rather than the transfer for these DVDs. Either way you slice it this is a great looking anime with some real technical merits.

Audio:

While the video quality impresses quite a bit, the audio is rather lackluster by comparison. The 2.0 audio tracks for English and Japanese simply do not provide the robust experience that would have given this show that extra something. Sure the music, sound effects, and voice acting are all great, but the lack of a sense of immersion is rather disappointing. With that being said this is a very dialog driven program so I suppose there's not that much lost in the process.

Extras:

The collection of Paradise Kiss includes the bonus features that were available with all three individually released DVDs from Geneon. Included here are clean animations, art galleries, TV commercials, a promotional video, and some snippets of the winners of a fashion contest for the series. Not only are those tidbits included, but there's some meatier material such as a roundtable discussion on the music of the show, a discussion with the voice actors, a mini concert by the J-Rock band, The Babys, and a press conference detailing the release of the show. There's even a photo shoot with Yu Yamada who plays Yukari. All in all the bonus material for Paradise Kiss is rather fluffy in nature, but there's some very unique stuff here that is definitely worth checking out for those who fall in love with the show. I particularly enjoyed the discussions and focus on the musical side of the series.

Final Thoughts:

Paradise Kiss is a very unique little series that marches to the beat of a different drummer. The characters break the molds we typically see in shows such as this and all around the theme is quite different by comparison. Yukari is a fascinating lead and her journey through a relationship with George and through the fashion circuit is probably unlike anything you've seen before. If you're looking for an offbeat romance drama there are few options better than Paradise Kiss. Because of that I have to go with a high recommendation for this series.


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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