As a mediocre student in a top school, Hayasaka Yukari’s life seems dull and completely out of her hands. Inadvertently, Yukari crosses paths with a group of eccentric fashion design students who immediately determine that she has the perfect look to model their design in an upcoming show. Though initially reluctant, Yukari accepts the nickname “Caroline” and is swept off her feet by the arrogant and self-serving designer Koizumi George. Soon she begins to question the life she has known and has to make a decision: continue school for her mother’s sake or quit and follow her dream of being a professional model.
summary by Liegenschonheit
Highs: Beautifully stylized art; dramatic scenes; amazing soundtrack
Lows: Sometimes obtrusive super-deformity; last episode poorly paced
As one of the most highly anticipated anime of 2005, Paradise Kiss had some very high expectations to live up to. As the anime is based on an extremely popular manga, the studio had no shortage of great material, and the anime doesn’t deviate far from it. With unique, stylized art, a solid story and an amazing soundtrack, this anime lives up to its own hype and more.
With fashion, beauty and image at the center of this anime, the artwork has to be something truly special. The highly stylized art style uses angular lines and rich, but subdued, coloring to perfectly convey mood and emotion. The characters’ faces are also wonderfully expressive, as often the slant of an eyebrow or a slight tremble in the lips was more telling than the dialogue. Though the artwork can be less detailed and somewhat sketchy in wide shots, it really doesn’t detract from the overall quality. Unfortunately, in the early, more comedic episodes, the characters are prone to odd moments of super deformity. Though the timing isn’t thrown off, the art itself is somewhat disturbing and shatters the reality of the moment. One can’t write a review of Paradise Kiss without mentioning the music. The soundtrack supplements the artistic and dramatic elements of this anime perfectly and features some very catchy J-Rock. The opening and ending themes are especially memorable; the songs by Tommy february6 and Franz Ferdinand make these sequences something to be looked forward to in each episode, rather than something to be skipped.
Although Paradise Kiss centers around fashion and design, the heart of the story is the characters. Though the plot moves slowly, the perfect pacing and finely honed dramatic moments don’t let the story become stagnant or dull. Instead, the pace allows the viewer to fall easily into the dramatic, more emotional scenes and empathize with the characters. Even though the story told isn’t a complex one, the span of 11 episodes to tell the main part seems to be the right length. A 13th episode may not have been amiss, though, as the 12th episode had a lot of ground to cover in a very short period of time. Despite it managing to wrap up most of the loose ends, the resolution still felt rushed and a bit unfinished.
With its slow pace and romantic drama, this anime is not for everyone. It isn’t suitable for young viewers, either, as it has some very sexual, though non-explicit, moments. However, for mature fans of romance and drama, Paradise Kiss should be at the very top of your “to watch” list.
Paradise Kiss can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.