It’s like Azumanga Daioh! But a bit more innocent! And not quite as good!
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.
There is no English dub available for this release, so I viewed it in its original Japanese, which is offered in 2.0. While I always wish for a 5.1 mix, it really isn’t necessary for a title like this, where dialogue is so predominant. I can’t say I noticed a whole lot of directionality in any of the sound, but again, that’s not really a deal breaker for this show. It’s a basic mix, but it’s more than enough for what’s required. The only part that really stood out to me were the English voices for Alice and Karen—they are supposed to be English, but it was very obvious that their English voices were actually done by Japanese VAs. It made me laugh just a bit.
The transfer for this release looks really nice. Colors are bright with clean lines. There were no technical issues to speak of at point. Everything looked pretty clean. I generally liked the design of the series as well. Admittedly, the main cast suffers a bit from all having essentially the same faces with just different hair, a common complaint by a lot of people. It doesn’t bother me as much, though, particularly since I liked the designs of the characters in this. What was a little unnerving is that this is a show that takes place in high school, but the girls’ designs make them look like they are young middle schoolers.
This release has a fairly basic package. The two discs come in a single amaray case with center insert to hold one of the discs. I do wonder why they didn’t go with a double sided case so as to not need the center insert, but that’s not a huge deal. The front cover has a shot of the main cast sitting in a field with the title along the bottom. The back has various pictures of the girls along with screen shots made to look like postage stamps surrounding the series summary and technical details. It is a pleasant design, though somehow in all of the original art, the girls look even younger than they already do in the series.
The menus are pretty basic too, with a static image of some of the girls to the side with a list of the selections along side. As with most Sentai releases, there is no play all button, and each episode is listed individually on the main page. However, episodes do strong together even without the play all button, so it’s not an issue. The menus are easy to read, and the cursor shows up well.
All that is available on this release are clean versions of the OP/ED.
Shinobu has a fascination with all things England. When she was in middle school, she went on a short trip to England and got to live with an English family, where she became good friends with Alice, their daughter who was the same age. Since that trip, she has dreamt of returning to England to be able to spend more time with Alice as well as immerse herself in a blonde-haired heaven. But she is surprised on her first day of high school when she finds that Alice has moved to Japan and is now enrolled in Shinobu’s school. To make things better, Alice will be staying with Shinobu’s family while living in Japan. Shinobu’s blonde-haired heaven has come to her.
The first thing that struck me about Kiniro Mosaic is how similar it is in structure to one of my favorite anime, Azumanga Daioh. It is based on a 4-koma manga, and it translates into episodes that are little more than short segments based around quick, simple jokes. Add in the fact that it is about a group of high school girls just living their lives, and it’s obvious where the influence lies. Kiniro Mosaic is a little more innocent in its humor (not that Azumanga Daioh was perverted or anything), but at its heart, it is a very similar show.
But while I love Azumanga Daioh, I didn’t connect with Kiniro Mosaic as much. The characters were charming enough, and there was a lot of fun to be had, but it also didn’t really do anything to make it stand out from the rest of the moe fare that has swamped the market in the past few years. Alice and Shinobu’s relationship is cute, and the addition of Alice’s friend Karen to the mix adds a nice complication as Alice needlessly feels competition for Shinobu’s attention and affection, but I never really felt invested in their lives in the way that Azumanga Daioh made me feel. The final episode even goes for a similar sort of bittersweetness that Azumanga Daioh does so well, but it really failed to move me in any way. Perhaps it is not fair to keep comparing it to Azumanga Daioh, but I really did spend the whole time thinking about the similarities. I couldn’t divorce the two.
That’s not to suggest that Kiniro Mosaic is bad; it really isn’t. As I said, I like the sort of “love” triangle between Shinobu, Alice, and Karen, and I found the cast pretty likeable. In particular, I really liked Shinobu’s older sister, Isami, as she is an independent spirit who really looks after her sister and her friends. And my favorite character was Yoko for many of the same reasons: in a group of supposedly high school students (seriously, I had to keep reminding myself of that, as they looked far too young; I’m used to them making high school girls look very…developed), Yoko was the only one that occasionally acted like it. Where Isami was a literal big sister, she was also a very secondary character. Yoko was more of the big sister who was constantly present, helping out wherever she can.
Kiniro Mosaic was a fun show. It has good humor and charming characters. The problem is that while fun, I also found it to be fairly uninspired. It wasn’t anything I hadn’t already seen before. That doesn’t make it bad, and at twelve episodes, it wrapped up before overstaying its welcome. But it’s also not a show that I will be dying to revisit. That said, I can certainly see it having a pretty dedicated audience, so if this type of series is your thing, then I would definitely check it out. But don’t expect it to blow you away if you aren’t already a fan. Thumbs in the middle, slightly pointing up.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation.
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: August 26th, 2014
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Sony PS3 w/HDMI Connection, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System