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Review: Kimagure Orange Road

Kimagure Orange Road is a long series, at 48 episodes. It could stand to be several episodes shorter; there were times when I felt compelled to fast-forward through scenes which were both incredibly predictable, and required incredible stupidity and/or bad luck on the part of the main characters. It’s disappointing to make a completely cynical prediction regarding the plot direction, and have it be absolutely correct.

That said, there were more than a few moments in this series which had me laughing out loud. When this series is good, it’s incredible; it’s only when it’s not that it becomes horrible.

It’s hard to get a sense of the personalities of the main characters. The female lead is introduced as brash, violent, and incredibly competent at everything. For most of the rest of the series, she is portrayed as demure, intelligent, and caring, except during outbreaks of the first personality. The male lead is portrayed as an average joe, not the smartest or the most athletic, but a really nice guy. Also, he’s got paranormal powers. However, there are times when he makes incredibly stupid decisions. These are of the form “The female second has had a tennis ball down her shirt which she somehow didn’t notice. Should I point out to her where it is, or *stop time* and root around down the front of her shirt trying to find it, knowing that the time stop is known to end unpredictably? I choose B!” The female second is introduced as a backup to the female lead: just as brash and violent. Nearly immediately thereafter, she metamorphoses into an incredibly naieve, genki, happy girl with a poor grasp of reality.

The male lead and his entire family have paranormal powers, but they don’t want to reveal this fact to the general public. There are episodes which deal entirely with the trouble they get in while trying to accomplish this, while simultaneously wielding those powers on every whim. Though the plot started out fairly inventive and fresh, in the second season it felt as though the writers had run out of ideas. You get multiple episodes with the male lead acting completely out of character because he has been hypnotized, and even more dealing with the fact that when he is hit, he has a tendancy to teleport, time travel, or both.

The primary drama of the series comes from the fact that the male lead is in love with the female lead, and to some extent, she reciprocates. However, in episode 2, the female second ‘claimed’ him and forced him (somehow) into a basically one-sided relationship with her. Moreover, she is wholly committed to loving him, and would be devastated were he to dump her. This naturally leads to tension. However, nothing about it changes from (by my memory) around episode 3 until episode 48. After 45 episodes, the tension feels a lot less tense.

The last two episodes try to wrap up the entire series, but in the end, it feels essentially unresolved. The male and female leads confess their love for each other overtly for the first time, and kiss (the first kiss of the series). There is no mention of the female second, the guy who’s chasing her, or any of the other characters in the series.

If you have time on your hands, and feel like watching a drama with moments of genius tempered by long stretches of mediocrity, this is a pretty good choice. If you’re looking for something better, you’d probably rather watch Maison Ikkoku.

Genre: romantic comedy
Emotion: don’t do the stupid thing! don’t do the stupid thing! darn it, he did the stupid thing.
BTFS: .35

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