What They Say:
On a warm, cloudy afternoon, Tomari bursts in on two girls from her class, Hazumu, and Yasuna, sharing a tender first kiss. Her heart breaks… from jealousy.
Hazumu was born a boy, but he certainly doesn’t act it. He’s sensitive, delicate, and loves gardening. Lucky for him, he grew up with the tomboy Tomari, who is always there to protect him. Despite her own feelings, she pushes Hazumu to confess his love to the elegant Yasuna. After Yasuna rejects him, he retreats into the mountains in despair. This begins the strange series of events that changes him into a her, and earns her the love of both Yasuna and Tomari.
The audio mix for this show is fairly basic. Only offered in Japanese 2.0, there is little offered in the way of directionality. As this title is mostly based on dialogue, that is not a big deal. The dialogue was clear, and there was no dropout. The soundtrack was one of the more pleasant musical scores I’ve heard, with a nice blend of quiet, light tunes that helped set moods. My only real complaint is the lack of a dub. I understand why Media Blasters would forego it for this release, but as a dub fan, it is still disappointing.
Originally released in 2006, Kashimashi is presented in 4:3 aspect ratio. The series has a lighter feel to it as the coloring tends towards pastels and other soft hues. The effect is really pretty, especially among the backgrounds. Unfortunately, softer titles tend to not transfer quite as well, and this is the case here as there is quite a bit of aliasing in some portions. It is nothing particularly distracting, but it is certainly noticeable if you are looking for it.
This collection comes with a thin artbox to contain the three original singles. The artbox has a wraparound image of some fields with Hazumu, Tomari, and Yasuna sitting and enjoying the day. The back has some screenshots and a series summary, keeping with the sky motif. The three singles work well side-by-side inside the box as they each have their own pastel theme that blends into one another.
The menus feature static images of the same picture from the fronts of the singles cases; they also maintain the same background coloring from the case as well. The selections are easy to read and follow, and the really pretty ending theme plays in the background. Nice composition.
The first disc has clean versions of the opening and closing along with a few Japanese TV spots. But the main extra feature is the series of Voice Actor Interviews, conducted by Hazumu’s VA Kana Ueda, that are spread over the three discs. In each, Ueda has a 10 to 20 minute one-on-one with various other VAs about their characters and their experiences with the series. There is quite a bit to get through as each disc has two separate interviews.
Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl is a release in Media Blaster’s “Yuri Fan” line; as such, you can expect lots of cute girls getting romantic with one another. Unlike some Yuri titles, Kashimashi tends towards the more innocent side of romance, as the storyline trends towards the sweeter side of romantic comedy. Throw in some light comedy and a couple ‘mysterious’ space aliens, and you end up with a fairly enjoyable short series, but not one that will light the world on fire.
Tomari Kurusu has just seen something that crushes her soul: after school one day, she walks into a classroom to find her two best friends, Hazumu Osaragi and Yasuna Kamiizumi, sharing a kiss. She is shocked and heartbroken. It is not so much that Hazumu and Yasuna are both girls that shocks Tomari, but that she has her own crush on Hazumu.
See, up until recently, Hazumu had been a boy, until an accident mysteriously turned him female. Hazumu and Tomari had grown up together, though by their personalities, you would have guessed it was actually Tomari that had been the boy. She always secretly liked him, but recently he confessed that he had developed feelings for Yasuna. Putting aside her own feelings, Tomari pushes the shy Hazumu to tell Yasuna his feelings, but Yasuna turns him down.
To clear his mind, Hazumu goes for a hike up a nearby hill to be alone. Unfortunately, he chose the exact moment an alien spaceship came to crash on the hill. Hazumu is killed by the accident; however, the advanced alien technology aboard the ship is able to bring him back to life. But the process changes his male DNA to female DNA.
With her new female body, Hazumu finds she is able to open up more and be herself. Getting closer to Yasuna, Hazumu finds that Yasuna really has liked Hazumu all along, but was too shy to accept his feelings. But Yasuna and Hazumu finally getting together bothers Tomari, as she is now unable to ignore her own feelings for Hazumu. When she sees the two kiss, she cannot hold her feelings in any longer. As Hazumu is unwilling to choose one over the other, a truce settles in that they will take it slowly until a natural solution comes up. But, like any truce, this one is one misunderstanding away from falling apart.
For what it was, Kashimashi was an enjoyable title. The concept was neat, and I liked the character dynamics, particularly with the three main characters: Hazumu, Tomari, and Yasuna. Tomari is the prototypical tomboy; Yasuna works well as the quiet, reserved, feminine type; and Hazumu, as the ‘male’ of the relationship, fills the coming-of-age role of the object of desire well. I thought Tomari was especially well developed, as they really hit the dynamic where she has the strongest personality, but is actually most vulnerable inside.
But my favorite characters were probably the very human-looking space alien, Mr. Soro, and the human representation of his ship, Jun Puu. Mr. Soro came to Earth to study human relationships and that very human emotion called ‘love.’ Because of his research, and the fact that fate brought them together, Mr. Soro continually tries to interfere in Hazumu’s life by getting her together with either Tomari or Yasuna, usually to funny results. And of course, he is so committed to his research, that he fails to notice that Hazumu’s desperately single teacher, Miss Namiko, has fallen head-over-heels for him. Jun Puu, being Soro’s ship, is also involved in his research, but more often than not, it is her exuberance that mucks up any experiments.
Of course, with a title like this, the main selling point is the fact that cute girls love on one another. It should be pointed out that there is nothing particularly explicit in Kashimashi; in fact, I would not even consider anything ‘heavy.’ For all three girls, love is a new experience, and their interactions with one another remain fairly chaste. There are a few kisses here and there, but the heaviest action comes when Jun Puu sleeps next to the newly girlified Hazumu, and comments that her breasts make a nice pillow.
But as fun as the series was, I could not shake a sense of ambivalence as it came to the ending. Around the halfway point, I found that I had no real interest as to what would be the “best” ending. I knew at some point Hazumu was going to have to come to a decision as to whether she chose Tomari or Yasuna, but I had trouble discerning which option I liked better as a conclusion. I know this was part of the design of the show, but it hurt any sense of drama they were trying to create.
Speaking of endings, I also did not care too much for ending to the final OVA. The Kashimashi TV series is twelve episodes long, with a separate OVA acting as the thirteenth. But unlike most OVAs that are standalone and really have no bearing on the plot, the Kashimashi OVA follows on directly from the end of the TV series and presents a new conclusion to the proceedings. It did not bother me that they took the series in a different direction by the end of the OVA, but I did find the ultimate conclusion to be too fairytale-ish and cloying for my liking.
Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl is a pleasant, sweet series, with plenty of light-hearted humor. The premise is interesting, and the presentation was well done. I loved the characters and the overall idea, but I did find that I had trouble caring about the conclusion. Still, it was an enjoyable few hours. Recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Openings, Interviews, TV Ads
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Media Blasters
Release Date: October 14th, 2008
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Memorex MVD2042 Progressive Scan w/ DD/DTS (Component Connection), Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System