Kimagure Orange Road – episodes 25-36

August 15, 2006 on 10:24 pm | In Kimagure Orange Road | 1 Comment

Have you ever lent in to kiss a pretty girl only to realise, upon closer inspection, that she is your sister? Nor have I (I don’t have a sister). Kyosuke sure has, though!
In this set of rockin’ episodes we get: several extra powers; another holiday period; many, many sukeban; and Schwarzenneger, Superman and general Hollywood jokes!

I’ll put the quality of the series this way: I’m at episode 37 of 48 and am now feeling sad that there are only 12 episodes left. Sometimes a 26 episode series can feel epic, but if you go for a more episodic route a series that’s even longer than that can feel like an idyllic holiday. You want an epic story to conclude (conclusion is, after all, gratification), but you want an idyllic holiday to last forever.

Twice in these episodes, Kyosuke hypnotises himself. Both of these hypnotic incidents see Kyosuke transforming himself into a total dick, albeit different forms. The first sees him becoming a ladies’ man, proving the old adage “it’s always the bastards who get the girls”. I would hate this sort of episode were it not for the glorious conclusion that sees Madoka dragging Kyosuke to a fountain and holding his head under water until he finds sense. That kind of brutality gets me going and makes me swoon for Madoka.

The other hypnosis episode is more of a concern, as it features mighty rape attempts as a result of a decision to “not trust anyone”. Kyosuke’s abuse of Madoka somehow leads to his travelling back in time, which allows him to cancel the Madoka attempt but causes the still hypnotised version of himself to abuse Hikaru.
Now, with the good Kyosuke there to tell Hikaru he was playing a joke on her, Hikaru cheers up instantly. To her credit, the cheer doesn’t last.
This particular episode is bad not because of its throwaway, nonsensical joke ending that gives away the world without explaining how it’s fixed, but because of its incredibly bad set up, among the worst of the worst clichÈs: Kyosuke gets angry because everyone appears to have forgotten his birthday when, in fact, they are actually setting one up for him. It’s painful but not deal breaking.
Sometimes you need total nonsense in a series, but when the nonsense is this total it’s less enjoyable than it could have been (I’ve never been able to find domestic violence and rape funny; it’s one of my weaknesses).

To better, happier things! There are a couple of body swap episodes, that Kimagure Orange Road can get away with because it’s in the spirit of the series and, contrary to what I just said, it makes sense. The characters get to keep their voices, Kyosuke can learn something, and (new addition to the team) Kazuya, Kyosuke’s cousin, doesn’t grow at all. The first instance has a truly terrible American movie called “American Variety”, which is narrated in English at every turn. Terrible, terrible English. It’s spoken by what sounds like English speakers, but just because one can speak English does not mean that one can emote. I’d say that the Americans in question were probably given scripts without any context, which would explain why the hero of the film is called “Carol”.
Carol’s wild days are over …
The second sees Kazuya swapping bodies with Jingoro, which is good because Jingoro in a human body can speak English. This gives us an insight into the character so abused by Manami and Kurumi, and it’s a good bit of fun. The production is even novel in that the villain is presented in a cross-hatched fashion. The character is unreal, and so is his situation (he deliberately loses his cat so that he can lure girls to his junkyard lair), so the design that went into this story aids rather than hinders it.

Beyond this there are many stories that deal extensively with sukeban (punk girls in gangs), featuring even the traditional sukeban weapon of a yoyo. When eighties shows reflect the values of their times, it’s a definite point of interest and a reminder that Kimagure Orange Road is of the same vintage as City Hunter. Through these stories we realise that Madoka is nothing like she used to be, and that the sukeban lifestyle is nothing to aspire to.
The major hilarity of the sukeban situations is the different light that we get to see Hikaru in: when she puts on her tough voice and starts speaking rude Japanese, she’s a force to be reckoned with, and I can’t stop loving it. Anyone who hates Hikaru simply does not understand the hidden depths of humour that she can plumb. They are truly enemies of freedom.

As a whole, the series is at the point where it’s completely, undeniably obvious that Madoka and Kyosuke like each other. I don’t think it’s a matter of choice and it’s clear that Hikaru was never going to be an option. She even claims to be under the influence of aphrodisiacal mushrooms to get closer to Kyosuke! It’s just that kind of situation that they’re in. Kyosuke’s problem is that he’s unwilling to let Hikaru know that she should get with Yuusaku … or anyone else but him. Fortunately the series doesn’t concentrate too heavily on the relationships, because that way frustration would lie. It’s a simple matter of enjoying “the springtime of youth”; a true seishun anime.

With the introduction of Kyosuke’s extended family we receive hints of the origins of the power and the cultural divides that must be breached to bring about true love. I hope to see more of them in the coming episodes, but there are so few left, and that makes me sad. If they’re all of the same calibre as the film making episode, I’ve got no problem with that.

1 Comment

  1. Wow!
    You seem to feel exactly like me when I watched the show a year ago, brings back the memories!
    Even though it sometimes felt mindless and repetitive, when it was coming to a close, I felt so sad! =)
    Sweet, sweet youth!

    Comment by Nikolas — March 25, 2007 #

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