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Kimikiss: Pure Rouge Complete Collection
DVD | Box Set
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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 that will be 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. Little girls grow up in the most unexpected ways as young love, teenage angst and a little higher education all collide in Kimikiss Pure Rouge - The Comlete Collection!
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The story begins with Kouichi being re-introduced to childhood friend Mao Mizusawa, whom he calls 'Mao-nee-chan' (big sister Mao) as they were always like brother and sister back when they were kids. Mao has blossomed into a beautiful young woman, and things get complicated when she moves in with Kouichi and his family, when she starts school with him as a transfer student. Other characters are Yuumi Hoshino, Kouichi's love interest (who is a total sweetheart; I loved her!); the tomboyish, but very pretty and lovable Asuka Sakino, who plays on the school soccer team, and has fallen for Kazuki. Then there is the very beautiful, but bizarre and stony-faced Eriko Futami, who has no friends, and an IQ of 190; she is so clever, she still gets 100% in her test marks even when she doesn't attend classes! Kazuki becomes interested in her (much to Sakino's dismay!), and pursues her both as a friend and a potential girlfriend; she eventually begins to open up to him and the others. Meanwhile, Mao begins to realise that she has feelings for Kouichi, even though she was instrumental in bringing him and Yuumi together, and encouraged their burgeoning romance. She has a brief relationship with a guy called Eiji Kai, a somewhat odd and introverted fellow who wants to be a professional musician. Throw into the mix Nana Aihara, Kazuki's little sister, and her best friend Narumi Satonaka, whose grandfather owns an 'udon' (a type of Japanese noodles) restaurant, and is always inventing new recipes; Akira Hiiragi, president of the movie club, who has roped many of the friends into making a movie for the Cultural Festival; Mitsuki Shijyo, a shy, pretty and clever rich girl, who lets the group use her (huge) house and its grounds to film their movie; Megumi Kuryu, a self-important and over-bearing prefect who loves to throw her weight around, and Tomoko Kawada, the gang's home-room teacher, who is pretty and young-looking, although she is not averse to dressing inappropriately, and you have a recipe for fun, laughs and some heartbreaks too. I won't give the ending away, but suffice it to say there were some happy outcomes, and some seriously broken hearts; I must confess to getting quite emotional at the end.
The audio track is Japanese only, with English subs; picture and sound quality are fine, and there is a 16:9 aspect ratio. Oh, and the music is great too! There are all 24 episodes on 4 discs, plus an OVA episode about grumpy prefect Megumi Kuryu. All in all, a great story; definitely a keeper!
But truly, the most disturbing trait is the horrific animation. The anatomy of characters is poorly drawn and inconsistently presented, completely defeating the joy of watching it. For example: character's eyes shift positions on their face indiscipliminately as characters turn their head as if each frame was drawn without reference to the preceding and following; the spacing of the eyes is often disturbing (but also not consistent from shot to shot), and lines and angles of faces shift between harsh or inverted angular lines in one shot to appropriately proportioned in another; just generally lazy drawing throughout the series. The backgrounds are barely rendered faux watercolors without any actual substance or style but just a minimal amount of work to get something on screen. Other anime may use minimalist backgrounds to great effect when it's part of a conscious design choice, however here, it appears simply shoddy work or cost cutting. It also has some of the ugliest feet I've ever seen animated. Add to this disturbingly slip-shod animation is entirely annoying voice acting by both the majority of male and female leads, with perhaps Kai's voice being one of the few that didn't make my head throb (and he barely speaks!). I've only watched the subtitled version, so I have no idea if the English dubs are decent, but normally I really prefer subtitles and the voice acting in this is so awful it made me want to watch it on mute.
Even the actual storyline is barely compelling. It's been praised as being low-key and relatively free of fan-service, which can be a welcome relief, however, compared to many great examples of the genre such as Honey and Clover, Usagi Drop, Aoi Hana, Wandering Son, and many others that attempt to depict a more realistic world (although I get that these examples aren't really romance stories - but they are examples of great anime without fan service) or recent great Shoujo romances like Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride), it falls far short of actually having interesting inter-character dynamics and is more of just a rote romance with a predictable end where the journey isn't any real fun eitehr. This makes sense considering it is loosely based on a dating sim so there wasn't much to salvage to begin with. At least the director and writers had the good sense not to make it another grossly misogynistic harem story and instead focus the story on more balanced relationships (Don't get me started on the horrors of Oreimo), but each character is still a one-dimensional cliche with few redeeming qualities. There are much better romance shows (both Shoujo and Seinen) out there. Not unwatchable, but don't waste your money or your time.