Saturday, January 9, 2016

Paradise Kiss Review

Paradise Kiss Review

Warning: The following review may contain spoilers of the show Paradise Kiss. If you wish not to know some plot details, or simply don't wish to find out what happens in the series, please exit the tab, and join me once you've watched the show. Or you know, you can continue to read, since you don't care about spoilers.

Anyways, with that said, thank you, and onto the review:

Since this series is classified as a coming-of-age tale, and seeing as I don't really see a lot of that in anime, I'd thought it'd be fun to talk about this first. I've read and seen plenty coming of age stories ranging from a great movie (The Way Way Back) to a literary classic which did nothing for me besides being a near sleeping aid (A Separate Peace). So seeing one in anime took me a bit by surprise.

I saw the first episode of this show in both Japanese and English the day I finished Karneval, when I was looking for new shows to watch. Though Paradise Kiss interested me with its fashion and animation, I decided to wait a little while before I hopped on the bandwagon. After a year of waiting and finding out this series was created by the same girl who created Nana (also want to see that down the road), I decided to watch this show with Luke, and then Sukisho, a show based off of a BL game which came out earlier in the year this show aired (2005), would come later.

So after my year of waiting, how did this turn out?

Well, this turned out to be quite the adventure. This show manged to be very memorable, as I cared about the characters' conflicts, the build-up of the story, and the animation. Though the series did falter a bit towards the end, with an ending that felt not much like one, I'm still glad I got the chance to watch it now instead of later.

How does this coming of age tale spins its web? Let's find out:


Yukari Hayasaka is a senior in high school who lives a fairly boring life. She attends regular and cram school in order to get into a good college per her mother's encouragement, and doesn't really have a life besides studying. After she runs into a couple of  senior design students who take her back to their shop known as the altier, her life is going to start to take a change. After being asked by them to model for their school's upcoming contest, Yukari initially refuses. However, after encountering the charmingly handsome leader of the group George Koizumi, she decides to go for it.

The group of Yazagaku Fashion School students have a starting label called Paradise Kiss (also known as ParaKiss) where all of them pitch in to help make designs for fun and cool outfits. As Yukari becomes close friends with them, and romantic feelings grow between her and George, she starts to question her life and the way its headed.

After an argument with her mother, Yukari decides to move out of her house to see what she wants to do, and how she'll do it. While cutting school, she stays in Arashi's (another member of the design team) apartment, thinks about college, becomes a model, ponders some more, and loses her virginity. 

This all happens within the span of six days. Lucky girl. Yukari's living her life right!

Wait, where was I again? Oh yeah, the story. 

After Hiroyuki, one of Yukari's classmates and her former crush, talks to her about where she's been and the path she's been going on, he decides to help her get back into the routine of going to school after cutting it for about a week. She also goes back to her mom, but only if she listens to her about her new path in life rather than studying. As the fashion contest creeps closer, what will happen to our characters? And more importantly, what do they want to do with their lives?

Overall, the story for Paradise Kiss has a moderate pace. I like the build-up to the fashion show, and other key elements, such as the growing sexual tension between Yukari and George. But I think this show is definitely great at making you feel for most of the characters' struggles, either personal or romantic. It's pretty interesting to see that a show does this for other characters besides the leads, and it's done well here.

Unfortunately, the show can get a little dull at times, though not as soul-sucking as a couple of moments from My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU or Dance with Devils. This mainly happens in the latter half, which affected a bit of my enjoyment. But the ending is where the show kind of weakens a bit more.

The final episode doesn't necessarily feel like one, due to the fact that it's a bit slow, and plot threads are picked up that weren't addressed before. Though the ending is pretty bittersweet, the events that are introduced or other issues the characters faced are either tied up way too nicely or are not addressed. There's some things I'm still curious about for the characters and what will happen, but the show doesn't really answer those questions. Which is honestly a bit of a shame, because most of the episodes were still good as a whole.

So besides the show's tendency to get a bit boring at times and the last episode's ending, the story's pretty good for the most part. It could have been a bit stronger, but for what we have, I'm down for it.

The characters are up next!


Unlike some other shows, Paradise Kiss easily establishes its main cast without any problems. Some of the side characters don't really get tangled in the plot besides a few, and most of them are forgettable anyways. Besides Arashi, who sadly didn't get as much of the development as some of his fellow friends did (Isabella got a little more in the end), we do get one thing about his childhood. That will be further addressed when I talk about Miwako.

Let's go over Yukari first:

Yukari, also known as Caroline (the nickname Miwako gives her), isn't the most interesting character to start off with. The only fun she's known is studying, considering the fact that her mother wishes for her to go to a really good university. But it's not until she discovers ParaKiss and when she gets a makeover (her bags are cut off) does she start to come out of her shell.

Besides becoming a model, Yukari's ambitions and her personality start to warm up. She becomes more focused on pursuing a dream, even though she isn't sure exactly what she wants to do besides modeling. She also develops strong feelings for George, even though at times he can be a bit cold. But she grows a lot as a character, becoming more confident in what she can do.

As a whole, Yukari is pretty rootable throughout the series as she becomes her own person rather than a hollow shell. Though she can get a little dis-trustworthy of George, and maybe a bit too clingy, most of the time she does understand things that tick her off, and she will act on them. She handled running away from home with high maturity, and I don't think she was ever scared. Which, to be honest, is quite surprising.

Now onto George:

In some ways, George is easily a Manic Pixie Dream Boy. He's whimsical, doesn't really change in personality throughout the series (his background is developed), serves as the romantic interest to a character whose life isn't very special, and being very very handsome. So basically, think the Zooey Deschanel of anime:

But outside of that, I think George is a fairly decent character, one who's probably the most interesting out of the show outside of his green-blue hair color.

George has a knack for fashion design, mainly in designing haute couture clothes. Although he can appear as distant and cold (which he can show at various parts of the show), he often has very extravagant taste that wouldn't be normally accepted in mainstream fashion. He lives in a very fancy house and drives a vintage Jaguar. He wants Yukari to make her own decisions, as well as manage to take responsibility for how they end up. He often refers to her as his muse, as well as a tease.

In a way, I do like George. I really like his look, and his ability to act as someone who can help Yukari dig out of her boring monotonous life. He also has pretty impeccable fashion sense, which include feather boas or just really sweet suits. At the same time, there are points where one can get irritated with George, especially when he acts colder to Yukari, or in the final episode, where he decides to drop his dreams of designing right out the door for really no reason. Though I think he still manages to fit into some expectations of the Manic Pixie Dream character, he also is his own, which does work out in the end.

Miwako is up last for the character section:

Miwako is the younger sister of Mikako, the main character from another work by Ai Yazawa, Gokinjo Monogatari. Then again, this series does take place within the same universe, so it makes sense why she's here. Mikako owns a fashion line named Happy Berry, and her little sister wishes to work in the future under her sister's footsteps.

Miwako is very bubbly and happy, shown through her Lolita style of dress and her optimistic attitude. She also tends to act a little childish during some situations, and is currently in a relationship with Arashi. Arashi was one of her childhood friends, along with Hiroyuki, Yukari's cram school classmate and her former crush. Miwako used to love Hiroyuki, but her developing feelings caused Arashi to become jealous and their friendship is split up due to that. However, she still believes Arashi is a kind person, even through his rough attitude. 

Some times, she is seen carrying a jar of konpeito candy, a Japanese candy shaped like stars, which helps to make her feel better as it reminds her of being loved by many people. In the anime, this is only seen once, but is mentioned a couple of times later.

Miwako is my favorite character from this anime simply because she is super adorable and I love her bubbly spirit. She always managed to put a smile on my face, ranging from her outfits to her personality. I really liked her relationship with Arashi, because even though they went through a couple of issues, they always seemed to make up once Arashi dropped his jealousy guard down, especially after Miwako gets into contact with Hiroyuki again. And their relationship never felt toxic to me whatsoever, it felt generally caring.

Other characters in the ParaKiss group include Arashi, Miwako's boyfriend who has a very tough appearance with his 2 clothespin piercings, and his demeanor. He also feels inferior to Hiroyuki, which is the main cause of his jealousy. There is also Isabella, a transgender woman who is the named mother of the Yazagaku students, who became able to express herself in dresses thanks to George.

Other than that, we have Hiroyuki, Yukari's studious classmate from cram school, Yukino, George's mother, Mikako, Seiji, a hair stylist who is close friends with George, Alice, Miwako's niece, Yukari's mother and brother. And finally, Kaori, a former student of Yazagaku student who now studies aboard after winning the second year fashion show. There's some others too, but like I mentioned earlier, they're mostly forgettable.


The animation for this series was produced by Madhouse, who are mainly known for their work on One Punch Man, the 2011 series of Hunter x Hunter, and Kobato.

As a studio, Madhouse has failed to let me down. They are known for some very pretty animation, and this series definitely has that. While some of the mouth movements did get a bit off at some points of the show, the animation is still very consistent. Some of the fashion looks mouthwatering, the characters all look good, and there's some really cute introductory bits with various objects during the early parts of the series that are super adorable.

Also, can I applaud Madhouse with the way they handled Yukari and George's first time? I've seen anime that has more sexual content with nudity or kissing, as well as in books. The way that Paradise Kiss handles it makes this scene highly apparent, but doesn't do much to overly sexualize it to the point of someone getting uncomfortable by it. It's done in a classy way that doesn't try to harp on any excessive elements to make it oh so right.

High five!

Besides that, the animation is easily one of the best parts of the show. For mid-2000s standards, it fits the bill.


The score for this series was composed by the musician NARASAKI from the band (I assume at least) COALTAR OF DEEPERS THE BABYS. Aside from this, he has no other credits for anime scores.

Overall, the score for this series is a bit forgettable. There's some pieces that stick out, but the majority of it feels non-existent. I can't really say much about it, because its one of those scores that I don't really think back out. The opening and ending are good though, so that's a big plus. A bigger plus for an band outside of Japan to have a song of theirs featured as an ending theme (that being Franz Ferdinand's Do You Want To).

As for the voice work, the casting for this show is Japanese is actually kind of 
interesting. We have Yu Yamada, who mainly works as a model, playing Yukari (who becomes one), and Shunsuke Mizutani, the vocalist and guitarist of the Japanese rock band THE BABYS as Arashi (who I'm pretty sure is a performer himself). Both do pretty well among the others, and they sound pretty natural while handling probably their first time behind the mic for an anime. Though I haven't watch much of the English to fully give my impression on it, the first episode is pretty good. Again, everyone sounds fine (Patrick Seitz is easily my favorite thus far), and hopefully I can see more of it in the future.

Highlights in the original Japanese are Yu Yamada, Kenji Hamada, Marika Matsumoto, Shunsuke Mizutani, Chiharu Suzuka, Shinichiro Miki, and Rumi Shishido.


As a whole, I'm really glad I watched this show. The story was good, the characters were nice, and the animation is absolutely beautiful. Though I wish the series had a slightly better ending, and some various other things were slightly stronger, I'd say this show was right up my alley.

This is recommended to people who have seen Nana and want to see another anime adaption from the same manga author (also the same animation studio), or are looking for a good coming of age tale with good heart and charm. Oh, and don't forget the fashion!

Score: 8/10


Good story.

Great main characters.

Fantastic animation.

Show makes you understand struggles of the characters.

Respectful handling of sex scene.

Nice build-up to main event.


Ending feels too abrupt; show can get a bit boring at times.

Some of the side characters aren't interesting.

Minor mouth issues in animation.

Slightly dull score.


  1. do you know the name of the guitar riff that is played in episode 6 time about 18:20

    1. I did some digging, but unfortunately wasn't able to find anything. It's a great riff, though.

    2. I know i love it so much:( thank you for trying to find it though!