What They Say:
The British are coming! The British are coming! Or to be precise, one very specific person from Great Britain is coming. You see, when Shinobu Omiya was still in middle school, she had the amazing opportunity to study in England as an exchange student while living with a host family. While that was several years ago and she still doesn’t do all that well in English class, Shinobu has had warm feelings for everything English ever since.
When Shinobu learns that the daughter of her host family, Alice Cartelet, is coming to stay with her and study in Japan, she’s thrilled. But will Alice be able to fit in with Shinobu’s Japanese schoolfriends, Yoko and Aya? And how will the arrival of Shinobu’s old friend Karen, who’s half-English and half-Japanese, affect the potential culture clash?!
Contains episodes 1-12.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the show in its original Japanese language only where we get that track in stereo encoded using the lossless DTS-HD MA codec. The series is essentially all about the dialogue with a couple of wild takes here and that but nothing serious in terms of action to give it a work out. The dialogue aspect of it is handled pretty well since we often have a decent sized cast to work with on screen as it all flows from person to person without a problem. The music helps to give everything a little more of a boost but that doesn’t take it to another level or anything. Placement is decent throughout where needed and the show as a whole hits all the right notes with what it wants to do. We didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2013, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes for the show are kept to one disc as there’s no dub and it’s a generally low-motion show that doesn’t require a ton of complicated work. Animated by Studio Gokumi, the series has a very bright, colorful and appealing look to it with its design as the colors are solid with the right level of pop to them that lets them stand out without being oversaturated. The main area that deals with are the girls themselves and their outfits and they have a great sense of definition and depth about them throughout, especially for Karen. The series works a generally simple real world approach for its design and the detail for it is well handled with a clean and clear approach that doesn’t suffer from line noise or aliasing. It’s a pretty good looking transfer overall for a show that definitely has a better look with the bright and more solid colors.
The packaging for this release gives us a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the single disc inside. The front cover artwork is pretty much what you want from a show like this in that it has the main group of girls all together looking at the viewer with cute expressions and a simple design overall. It has a good kind of softness to the designs and color palette that works well to set the tone and give it that whole cute feeling that it needs. The logo is kept simple along the lower right side with the full series name listed as well. The back cover goes for a little bit of that school and scrapbook feeling with the widgets and overall design to it with the stamps for the pictures and more. The premise is nicely cover and we get a clear listing of the episode count, though not for the disc count. THe extras are presented clearly and the technical grid covers everything cleanly and clearly.
The menu design for this release works a similar approach to the front cover but goes with a cuter and brighter method that works. The navigation is kept to the right as it’s done as a pair of air mail where we get the episodes listed by number and title where it has a good handwritten style to it along with the right colors. The rest of the menu is given over to a great full color image with the main cast of girls all done up in various costumes with hearts, rainbows and other pretty designs that really makes it stand out in a great way. There’s little in the way of submenus when you get down to it but it works well here and looks good as a pop-up menu as well.
The only extras included for this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the four panel manga by Yui Hara that began in 2010, Kiniro Mosaic is a twelve episode series that’s more commonly known as Kinmoza! or Kinmosa!. Animated by Studio Gokumi, it hit in the summer of 2013 and worked its approach well considering the source material. Some four panel shows try to pad out to whole episodes and reconfigure what it is they want to do. Kinmoza takes the approach of doing a number of varying length stories in each episode that are sometimes lightly connected to each other. The lets the humor work a bit more naturally and doesn’t try to force larger storylines or issues to the foreground that the concept can’t handle. The end result is more laughs, more cuteness and more enjoyment overall.
The series takes an interesting approach in setting its foundations as we’re introduced to high school student Shinbou, a cute and fairly smart young woman who has ended up spending a few weeks in England as a cultural exchange thing. She’s been a fan of England and the culture there and her time is highly enjoyable as she’s curious, outgoing and interested in everything. She stays with a family there that has a daughter named Alice, who is blonde, shorter and quite cute but is also pretty shy at first. Eventually, the two become good friends and have a lot of fun together, but it all has to end as Shinbou is heading back to Japan. The two really bonded though and it was enough for Alice to decide that she wants to go to Japan for high school. While we don’t see any of the discussion, debate or arguments that comes from it, Shinobu is certainly surprised when Alice arrives there as a new transfer student.
So begins the school year where Shinobu and Alice are in the same class together and she gets to meet Shinobu’s friends in the outgoing Yuko and the uncertain and wary Aya who is afraid of losing her friends. Alice is pretty much interested in being with Shinobu most of the time but she’s also interested in Japan a whole lot with its culture and language, which makes for some cute moments as she tries to understand some of the odd aspects while also taking to others far more easily some of the natives do. Naturally, there’s a lot of interest in how Alice fits into things when they deal with English classes and that makes for some fun with the English speaking teacher, who herself isn’t one that really knows conversational English. There’s a lot of the usual kind of foreign transfer student gags and comedy that ensues throughout the series.
And they actually double down on it early on as not only is Alice there, but her friend Karen has transferred from England as well. Unlike Alice, she’s half-Japanese on her father’s side and she didn’t want to lose her friend in Alice, so there was a kind of natural move back to Japan on the family’s part to expose her to that side of her heritage. Amusingly, Karen does pretty well in general but she wears her English heritage on her sleeve in a big way with a Union Jack flag jacket that’s essentially her uniform. While Alice is a little small and kind of nervous a lot of the time, Karen is more outgoing and fun with what she does and handles being in a different class where she’s with Yuko and gets to connect with the group through that. Karen might have been too much in another series where you get two foreign transfer students, but she actually works well here and isn’t overused.
Kinmoza isn’t a series with big moments or, thankfully, high tension and drama. We don’t get fights, arguments or a story arc involving someone leaving and never coming back. What we get is to follow the kids over most of their school year as it goes from the start in April to around Christmastime and all that events that happen in between. Some of the familiar tropes are there with school festivals, but it avoids the summer scene for the most part, which is a surprise. A welcome one since it means no heavy and awkward fanservice focused beach sequence. In fact, the show really does avoid going the fanservice route to make the girls look sexy and that’s an important piece of what makes this work. They overplay the cute factor, but that manages to work fairly well because of the cultural side they bring in where the girls are fascinated by the cute pale skinned blonde girls and they’re in turn in love with the look of their Japanese friends. But mostly, the show just works a lot of simple slice of life school and home things with what they do together and see. There isn’t anything that really stands out in a way because it handles that slice of life aspect so well. It’s adorable and enjoyable to see them go through their lives, but like most school lives, a lot of it is more about the feelings than the individual moments.
I wasn’t sure what to expect going into Kinmoza when I started it, but what I got was a fun little four panel anime adaptation that has a nice group of girls that are fun to watch that’s free of real stress and drama. This is a very girl-heavy show as there are no male speaking parts for the most part and what we get for guys are basically just a little bit of background material from time to time. There’s a lot of simple humor and moments where you just enjoy the characters and what they bring to the table in how they interact with each other. Kinmoza is simple and cute fun that made me smile throughout it and enjoy what it’s doing, and made me glad there’s a second season coming. This is usually how I prefer my four panel manga to be adapted since it doesn’t feel like it’s forcing a big change in the transition and instead lets the characters really take control.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 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-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: August 26th, 2014
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 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.