What They Say:
Kouichi always thought of Mao as his little sister, but when she returns after living in France for several years, she’s definitely not his little sister anymore! Which makes the fact that Koichi’s mom has invited Mao to stay at their house while she attends the same high school a path fraught with peril. Especially since Kouichi’s been trying to build a relationship with Yuumi, and the revelation that the cute new house guest is a non-related girl may become a full blown disaster by the time his best friend Kazuki, her sister Nana, her best friend Narumi, Asuka, Eriko, Mitsuki, Megumi, Eiji and all the other kids at school get overly involved.
Contains episodes 1-25.
The language options for this release are unfortunately a bit short as we only get the Japanese stereo language mix encoded at 224kbps. The strength of this show is in its dialogue and it really deserved a dub. The Japanese mix is really good though as it works the forward soundstage to good effect with dialogue well placed and clear throughout. There’s a lot of low moments to be had but it’s all discernible and clean. Sometimes we do get a fair number of characters talking across the screen at a time and it does a good job of providing placement and clarity for it. This isn’t a knockout attention getter of a mix, but it’s one that does a very good job with the material.
Originally airing in late 2007 and early 2008, the transfer for this TV is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The series is spread across four discs with the twenty-four episodes that it runs plus the exta OVA. The show is done with a real world style to it so it has some good colors but nothing too terribly vibrant while using a lot of soft pastels as well. Some of the backgrounds when it comes to interiors has a bit more noise than normal, but for the most part it’s a good looking transfer even with the average bit rate since it’s not a terribly active show. It’s a lot of dialogue, a lot of simple walking around and school based real world that doesn’t stress an encoder all that much. The show is generally clean and solid with no visible cross coloration and only a touch of aliasing during some panning sequences.
The menus for Kimikiss are pretty straightforward and girly in its own way, because anything relating to romance must be girly I suppose. The background is made up of pinks and purples with a different piece of character artwork for each disc. The artwork is good with lots of detail that has a vibrant look without being too much. To complement it, the right side has a sheet of paper, with some feminine style to it, where we get a bit more than normal. Usually we just get the episode number with Sentai releases but here they give us that plus the episode title in a nice script font that gives it a more personal feeling. Submenus are minimal overall here since it’s a monolingual release and the extras are on the second volume. Everything moves smoothly though with cursors and access times making it a problem free experience that sets the mood right for the show.
While the original release was in two standard sized keepcases, this one is in a double sized stackpack release where all four discs are laid out on top of each other. The front cover artwork is good as it brings four of the principle girls to it with the requisite pinks and purples in the background while giving it that mild photographic look. The back cover carries through the color style and slightly off kilter look as it adds more character artwork and several good shots from the show. The tagline is kind of awkward but the plot premise piece is decent and sells the show nicely without trying to oversell it. Add in the production credits and a solid technical grid and it’s a decent looking release but not one that leaps out at you either. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The only extras included are clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the PlayStation game from several years ago, Kimikiss: Pure Rouge is a twenty-four episode series with an additional OVA that tells the tale of young love. The first half of the series is covered here with thirteen episodes that introduces us to the lives of these high school students that range from first years to third years, though the principal character depending on your point of view is a second year student. Unlike a lot of shows about teenage romance, Kimikiss is focused on capturing the feeling of young love, the uncertainty of it all and the quiet nature of how we approach each other at this time in our lives. There are amusing situations to be had and moments of laughter, but it avoids outright comedy and bad stereotypes.
Kimikiss centers on second years student Kouchi, a generally nice guy who aspires to be a writer of some sort when he grows up. His school life and life in general is about to be thrown off kilter when a mysterious girl is suddenly in his house and he learns that it’s actually his childhood friend Mao. Mao’s a year older than him and she used to play with him and his friend Kazuki but she moved away at the end of middle school to go to France for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. She’s returned to Japan now though and most of the girls in her new class suggest that it’s because she wants to get into a Japanese college and has to get back into the swing of how things are done here. Mao gives in to that idea, but there’s a sadness about her that speaks volumes that it may be something else.
Working through their spring semester and into the early summer months before break, Kimikiss introduces the three leads here to many other characters in the show. Kazuki has a younger sister who has a friend where both of them have a pair of little plush frogs they play with. That’s really the most outlandish part of the show and that in itself is really very tame. As the kids go into their new semester, there are several other characters that come into play as a small loose group of friends forms. Kazuki’s friend Asuka is a strong soccer player who can get only so far because she can’t play in official games but she’s very interested in Kazuki. Which is a problem as she watches him slowly get close to Eriko, the most unusual girl in the group who is a huge introvert and looks at life a little askew when it comes to performing unusual experiments about life and having really bland taste buds.
With Kouichi, he becomes interested in Yuumi, a somewhat quiet but really nice girl who has a definite interest in him, but she harbors her own secret. The slow relationship that forms between them over a film that the film club Kouchi is in is making brings them together pretty nicely. What becomes very neat about the series in its first half is that we see this group come together through different friendships, partially because of the film club itself, and everyone gets along to varying degrees but there’s a number of interests just below the surface as well. It’s not a tension, but what you can easily attribute to teenage hormones running amuck and causing them to look at friends in way they may not have done in the past.
None of the relationships are really complicated, but the one that has a few different elements to it comes with Mao. She’s not bringing in a childhood marriage proposal from Kouichi and being a year apart meant their relationship was different from the start. She ends up taking up with a guy in her grade named Eiji who is moving differently than most other students. He’s not focused on school because he’s not pursuing a college career and is instead looking to have a music career of some sorts. He’s not a bad boy, but he’s a bit aloof and gruff at first and that pushes away Mao, but she’s also interested in him because he’s not following the usual path. But her own heart isn’t quite so clear at times as when she sees Kouchi involved with someone, she’s not sure exactly what those feelings she has are. It’s all done very tenderly, quietly and with a good sense of emotion that gives it the extra weight to work.
Watching these kids go through first loves, coming to understand love itself as best as you can at that age and coping with the hormones as well is very endearing. The primary couple of Kouichi and Yuumi is still one of better ones to watch in terms of something that makes you feel warm inside. With the knowledge that Yuumi is transferring after the culture festival, Kouichi is doing what he can to find good things to do with her that will make memories. He’s made his intentions clear on visiting her regularly, but Mao at least talks him out of getting part time jobs for some trips and just find smaller and more personal things to do that will mean more in the end. It’s a bittersweet romance as it plays out simply because of the distance the two will have to deal with. The closeness they present to the world makes you smile, since they’re not hiding it like many other shows often do for awhile and they’re not high maintenance personalities.
The relationship triangle of the series is difficult to watch simply because the pairings can work both ways. Of with the triangle, one of them does not fit well and it’s plainly obvious. For Kazuki, there’s a lot of reasons for him to be interested in Eriko and for her to come to like him as well. There’s an honest attraction there on his part and something more is expressed there that’s hard to pin down with why we become interested in someone. With Asuka’s interest in Kazuki, you can feel that just as well as it’s a very earnest and true long time affection that she wants to make something more of. Yet she’s terribly conflicted because she wants Kazuki to be happy even if it isn’t with her. The two certainly can work well together, but I really appreciated the fact that Kazuki simply likes her as a friend and when she finally confronts him about it, he admits it plainly that that’s the extent of his feelings.
The frustrating relationship that’s dealt with in this series is that of Mao and Kai. Mao makes it plain when she arrives in the series that she has no interest in Kouichi or Kazuki and her attraction to Kai works on a few levels. With good looks, musical talent, a steady job and is something of a loner. There’s something of a bad boy feeling to him as well, though it’s not very strong outwardly. When Mao starts to realize her true feelings involve Kouichi more, something that she comes to grips with while doing the film with him that he wrote the screenplay for and is acting as the lead in, it sets her down an emotional spiral. As much as I like Mao as she’s portrayed in the series, I still don’t see her as being the right fit for Kouichi. But that in itself is what love is all about in that not all relationships make sense from the outside. The connections that are created and the bonds that flow from it sometimes can only be felt by those actively involved.
A good part of the second half of the series revolves around the culture festival, but mostly in the form of the actual filming of the movie, “True Hearts” that Kouichi wrote. The difficulty in finding a female lead is dealt with and the actual process of filming intersects with most of the relationships as well. The dilemma of the actress is fun since Yuumi goes in for it first and then encourages Mao to take it over, which in itself is what leads to the downfall of her own relationship. Yet for Yuumi, she comes off the best here I think as she gains the memories she wanted to have of her friends, she had her first boyfriend and much of what it entails and she doesn’t have to deal with a long distance relationship afterward. She has pain and grows because of it, which will lead her to likely having a better relationship the next time around. While I liked Kouichi overal, Yuumi proved to be the better of the couple, much like Kazuki filled that role in his relationship with Eriko.
Kimikiss spends its run telling quite a number of interesting tales of first loves in a high school setting. This show spends a lot of good time in the first half to set things up and then it takes all of it and pushes it forward. The more open relationship between Yuumi and Kouichi plays out innocently and beautifully while the more complicated ones deal with nuance and other issues. With the way the couples deal with their problems and the way they feel, it opens up a lot of possibilities with where it may go and that keeps it fresh. It’s not guaranteed who will end up with who considering how they feel, and whether those feelings are truly real, and that has you watching right through the end until it’s all laid clear. Kimikiss is the kind of show where it can definitely leave an impression as it keeps things real, doesn’t become overly dramatic and has characters that actually admit feelings and move on to the next level. The chase is certainly fun, but the real drama and the best writing comes from shows that advance into actual relationships and all that’s involved there. Kimikiss does just that and succeeds very well at it. Definitely a very good show if you”re interested in that particular subgenre and a great one to start out with if you haven’t watched one before.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Readers Rating: [ratings]
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: March 6th, 2012
Running Time: 625 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.