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Kaleido Star Season 2 + OVAs DVD Complete Collection Review

5 min read

None of the beauty and magic from the first season Kaleido Star has been lost in the second. Fly high with Sora and her friends again to discover what it takes to be a true star.

What They Say:
Sora was flying high after her performance of the Legendary Great Maneuver, but staying on top will prove tougher than she ever expected. A fiery new rival has emerged from the shadows to challenge her for the spotlight, and her latest leading man keeps giving her the cold shoulder. With her confidence shaken, Sora turns to her friends and family for help regaining the magic that made her a bright, shining star!

Contains episodes 27-51 plus OVAs 1-2: episode 52 and Layla and the Legend of the Phoenix.

The Review:
Audio:
The first season of Kaleido Star features a Japanese stereo soundtrack along with a 5.1 English soundtrack. Both are solid audio presentations providing crisp, clear dialogue and mood music.

Video:
Originally airing in 2003 and 2004, the transfer presents Kaleido Star in its original full frame aspect ratio. There are no complaints to be had with the transfer; the series is abundant with rich colors and vivid details that range from multi-colored costumes to the simple fiery orange of a setting sun.

Packaging:
Funimation provides a compact, attractive package for the second season; all four discs are housed in a clear case a fraction wider than a standard DVD case. Two double sided binders are attached to the center and hold the discs. The case came in a sleeve adorned with a gorgeous image of a tranquil Sora. The reverse of the sleeve contains the requisite information and images about the series and the technical specifications.

Removing the sleeve reveals the same front and back layout for the DVD cover. However, opening the case reveals another gorgeous image of Sora on the reverse of the cover. While she fills most of the width, a portion is given over to listing out the episodes on each disc.

Menu:
Simple and utilitarian, the main menus are rendered as simple static images with music loops. Menu items are across the bottom and will get you setup and into the content quickly and efficiently.

Extras:
The final disc of the set holds all the extras – textless versions of all the opening and ending sequences, a short piece on the day in the life of an English voice actress, and commentary for episode 49.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I fell in love with the first season of Kaleido Star from the beginning; when I first sat down to watch the second season, I was concerned it might suffer from “The Sophmore Slump”, the inability of a series to deliver the same level of entertainment that drew its audience in initially. After taking its protagonist Sora and her friends to remarkable heights, where could the series go but down? Remarkably, it managed to craft a new story and set of challenges that kept the series soaring.

The challenges of the first season were designed to push her physical boundaries and prove that she was worthy of the title “Kaleido Star”. After carving out her spot on the stage, the second season forces her to overcome her own emotional and mental challenges to define what sort of performer she wants to be. Her foils for this goal are two newcomers to the Stage – Leon Oswald and May Wong. Leon has a reputation for vicious perfectionism; his search for a worthy partner has left many crippled. May simply sees Sora as unworthy to be the replacement for her idol Layla Hamilton. Both treat Sora with contempt and continually dampen Sora’s usual enthusiasm. However, their scorn eventually leads Sora to discover her own inner strength and her true dream for the Stage.

Everything that charmed me in the first season found its way into the second. It is a simple tale of achieving your dreams through hard work, determination, and a healthy dose of believing in your dreams when all around you call you a fool. Where the Legendary Great Maneuver ended the first season with a rousing climax, the second season ends with a more introspective “Angel’s Maneuver” that provides a fitting celebratory end for Sora’s journey.

Making its US debut in this collection is the follow-up OVA “Legend of the Phoenix”. This story reverses the roles and provides a look into Layla’s life, as she struggles with her own doubts about an upcoming role. It is a charming story that gives us a glimpse into Layla’s past and how she became the stoic perfectionist we saw at the beginning of the series. It treads the same themes and plot devices seen in the entire series, which can be a bit tiresome if watched too closely after the second season. It is the sort of story you pull off the shelf and watch to remind you how good a show Kaleido Star is.

In Summary:
The second season of Kaleido Star equals its initial season and continues weaving a captivating story about pursuing one’s dream. Where the first season built the cast into a family, the second season builds Sora into a strong, independent woman who knows what she wants to be on stage. Watching her take this journey is worth every minute. Funimation gives you one more chance to pick up this modern classic; don’t miss it. One of my very favorite and highly recommended titles.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C+

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: December 28th, 2010
Running Time: 650 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Review Equipment:
Sony Bravia KDL-46S4100, Panasonic RP-82 via component video cable, Sony STR-DH800 receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers

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