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Kinmoza! Kiniro + Mosaic Complete Collection Anime DVD Review

6 min read

Kinmoza DVD FinalBlonde-haired Japanophile Alice goes to Japan to live with green (black)-haired Anglophile Shinobu after she went to England as a foreign exchange student hosted by Alice’s family. Things happen. Lots of things. SO MANY THINGS! …yet nothing at all.

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.

So 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?
Every day is an adventure in international diplomacy as a group of schoolgirls learn new lessons about each other and themselves in KINMOZA!

The Review:
Audio:
High-pitched schoolgirls are fully represented via the Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track in the native language with integrated Engrish. There is no surround sound, so do not expect to feel audibly inundated by the inane squabbling of classmates and friends.

Video:
All 2D renderings are given the full 1080p High Definition / 16×9 treatment without any hiccups. English subtitles are standard.

Packaging:
A standard Blu-ray keep case. While the insert features front cover art with the main characters on a run-of-the-mill green (hillside), the back cover art features select screenshots, the usual summation and production blab, and a mid-jump Karen offering a defining quote from the series: “They may use different languages to express it, but friendship can be a universal language.”

Menu:
Backed by the OP theme, “Jumping!!” by Rhodanthe, the main menu greets disc players with a list of all 12 episodes and offers the sole Special Features option.

Extras:
Along with Disc Credits, Special Features include clean versions of the opening and closing ani-mations as well as trailers for other titles available via Sentai Filmworks on Blu-ray: From the New World, Yuyushiki, Uta no Prince Sama 2000%, and Mayo Chiki.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When Kinmoza (Kiniro + Mosaic) launched, I remember all corners of anitwitter erupting in squees that ceased, almost in unison, a couple weeks thereafter. The over-the-top cuteness that caused this reaction was, no doubt, the draw for the show’s intended audience but not capable of sustaining the interest of casual viewers. Ever since I stopped watching after two or three epi-sodes, however, I harbored a nagging suspicion that I might have missed something. So I’m glad I got a chance to revisit this title but can safely say that if you, like me, dropped Kinmoza for any reason at all, then there’s nothing more waiting for you past whatever episode was your last. That’s not to say there’s nothing worthwhile about the show, just that it’s mostly one-note. This is particularly disappointing given the premise and form of the source material.

The original 4-koma seinen comedy by Yui Hara seems like it would be a perfect playground for short bits centered around wordplay and culture shock/clash. And yes, there is some of that, but the main focus, mini-episode after mini-episode, is the drawn-out, overly clingy friendship (obsessive emotional dependence) between Alice and Shinobu. There’s also a jealousy angle that plays out regarding Alice and Isami (Shinobu’s sister) and Shino and Karen (Alice’s friend and neighbor from England) which, while brought up often, is never quite fully flattened by dull thwacks the way most of the jokes’ carcasses are in this show. Later on, there’s also a secret, one-sided crush developed by Aya for Yoko that becomes rehashed into tedium, although the audible and visual reactions at least make the jokes that stem therefrom enjoyable. It could be that the show simply does not harp on what I think it should, but signs of legitimate humor knowhow—well-placed running gags, good spaces between select jokes and their respective punchlines/payoffs, and overall staging and execution—make me realize how much harder and more often I laughed (and still laugh) with Azumanga Daioh.

It’s a shame that Kinmoza idles as long as it does by retelling the same five jokes seeing as there’s more fun that it could be having, especially regarding Alice’s weeaboo nature and how that’s perceived by her host family and friends. This only rears its head in either the last or sec-ond to last episode, the timing of which seems to scream, “They can’t cancel us now!” Unfortu-nately, the unease Alice feels and suspicions she harbors due to feeling that she’s become “more Japanese than the Japanese” are tossed aside for the comfortable familiarity of the arms of the Alice/Shinobu void. In context, how Alice acts—delivering a non sequitur exclusively in English about dinner preparation—to regain Shinobu’s fawning is a wonderful piece of rare ambiguity, but, again, one that is tossed aside too quickly. Another late implementation that was as quirky as it was welcome was the musical number. Did I mention I hate musicals? This musical was better than most of the show for its adept mockery of both. It was something different, something worthy of the format, and I really wish the show had experimented more like this during its run. Also worth mentioning was the sly division of perception of Christmas vs. Xmas as respectively represented through Alice and Karen. No downside there. It is one of the few things I genuinely applaud.

“But, Mastilo, you’re missing the point! Kinmoza is about friendship transcending barriers. It’s about the FEELS!!!” First off, the first couple episodes, where neither Alice nor Shinobu speak each other’s language well (if at all), are wonderful and represent what the all of the series should’ve done according to its own mantra/mission statement. That Shinobu’s a dunce at Eng-lish and Alice is a star pupil of Japanese allows for an easy channel of communication and thus nullifies the whole transcending boundaries angle. So from there, the show turns into cute girls doing cute things, and none of it comes across as original. For a bunch of short gags, I’ve never looked at the clock more to see how much more episode was left each and every single episode.

In Summary:
If you want a thing that’s a thing, this is your thing … and you can have it. It’s bland … I mean really bland. From the animation to the dialog, absolutely nothing is outstanding. The only distin-guishing factor of this series, as far as my own comparative viewing knowledge is concerned, is the concept. And as amusing as it is to poke fun at Japanophiles and Anglophiles alike, there is certainly no need for twelve 20-someodd minute episodes (much less the confirmed second sea-son) to do so. The saccharine sweetness is enough to drive embittered hermits’ heads against their caves’ walls in last-ditch efforts at expressing mental anguish via abstract art in lieu of paint. It’s true enough that there’s enough droll humor and even some genuine wit spread throughout the series to make individual episodes occasionally and earnestly enjoyable, but marathoning this dreck will either cause the brain to melt or lead to alcoholism and a general distaste for all things kawaii.

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

Content Grade: D+
Audio Grade: C
Video Grade: C
Packaging Grade: C
Menu Grade: C
Extras Grade: C

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: August 26th, 2014
MSRP: $59.98
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Toshiba 40” LED 1080P HDTV, Panasonic Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080P, Sony 5.1 home theater system.

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