Kimikiss: Pure Rouge
Mao Mizusawa has spent two years in Paris, but now wants to return to Japan to finish high school. When she was growing up she had two playmates, Kouichi Sanada and Kazuki Aihara, who regarded her as their "big sister", and she decides to stay with Kouichi and his family, since her parents must remain in France. Once a tomboy, then a serious student, but now afflicted with the vague stirrings and restlessness of sexual maturity, Mao's return is going to have some serious consequences for those around her, especially Kouichi.
I'll dispense with the dispensable here first. I thought the opening song was pretty insipid, though the closing ballad kind of grew on me after a while. One of our leads, Kazuki, has a kid sister named Nana, and while she's tolerable when she's just with her brother, there's this evil synergy that arises when Nana is with her new school chum Narumi. (Nana is a freshman at the same high school that the others go to.) To put it simply, there is a point where kawaii turns painful and embarrassing, and when Nana and Narumi are together, they can get there in seconds. And there are two frog puppets that should have gone on that bonfire at the end of the show, and I'm being awfully forgiving here; most viewers would want them consigned to the flames much sooner.
On the other hand, I found the character designs rather pleasant, especially Mao, who is quite beautiful. I also DID like the fact that all three of our lead characters, Kouichi, Kazuki, and Mao, have romantic choices to make, and each of their stories is given a similar amount of attention and time. And their romantic choices are the center of the plot. All three develop initial interests in persons with social dysfunctions. Mao's first interest is a surly, taciturn amateur saxophone player named Kai, who wants to play professionally (and whose character turns out to be probably the most patient, generous, and insightful soul in the whole show). Kouichi's first one is one he's actually had a longtime interest in, an almost pathologically shy young woman named Yuumi. Since Kouichi himself is almost as shy as Yuumi when he's around her, Mao must play matchmaker to jump-start that romance.
Kazuki's romantic interest is Eriko Futami, reputed to have a "190 IQ" but a person who can't quite seem to feel romantic emotions or understand their appeal. As part of an "experiment" to try to understand this, Eriko kisses Kazuki early into the story, and as we know from Suzuka (and maybe is actually true!), when a teenage boy is kissed by a girl, he can suddenly discover that he's madly, passionately in love with her, even if he's never noticed her before. Will this relationship last? And on Eriko's part, does it even exist? Nearly two dozen episodes later, we'll know.
Complicating things are the fact that each of our three principals has a challenger for their romantic affections. For Kazuki, it's Asuka Sakino, a soccer player who's been grooming Kazuki as a kind of protege, and very late (perhaps too late) discovers she's got other feelings for him as well. For Mao and Kouichi, the names of their rivals are best left unspoken. There's a lot of vacillation and uncertainty in the hearts of our protagonists (well, in SOME of them anyway), but I suppose that's what teenage romance is about.
The show could use a little more humor (Nana and Narumi do NOT count), though it has one of the funniest moments I've ever seen in anime, when Yuumi reveals her taste in literature. I'll only say that it doesn't bode well for the future of anyone in a relationship with her. And then there's Akira Hiiragi, the smarmy leader of the film "club" that Kouichi and Kazuki belong to, who likes to "delegate" (i.e., duck) responsibility when he can, and actually has some amusing moments with Megumi Kuryu, the school prefect/martinet, in the included OAV. Hiiragi and Kuryu seem to me to have about the same potential as a romantic odd couple that Makoto and Yumi did in Boys Be, and it's a shame that isn't developed further.
I'm not sure if everyone made the best choice of romantic partner in the end, but at least the series does end (after two seasons) with real decisions being made. And the journey was occasionally pretty interesting; at least one character (I won't say who) undergoes some amazing emotional growth during the course of the show. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: No sex, no fan service. Nothing but kissing and hand-holding ever occurs; this is a chronicle of just the beginnings of romance, not of anything that might follow later. Probably OK for young teenagers and up.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD from Sentai Filmworks
Review Status: Full (25/25)
Kimikiss: Pure Rouge © 2007 Enterbrain / Kimikiss Committee
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