To be perfectly honest, I had rather low expectations for Kimikiss, primarily for the fact that its name included the words "kiss" and "rouge." By all accounts, my experiences have taught me approach these titles with a ten foot pole (if at all), so you can only imagine my surprise when this should-be-shoddy title turned into one of the best high-school romances within the anime realm - and, trust me, it is a needle in a haystack.
First and foremost, Kimikiss' scriptwriters knew how to pace a twenty-six episode romance story appropriately, and that definitely fronted its likeability. There's a decided lack of typical harem-romance events such as summer beach retreats, as it opted for a much more casual and realistic environment over a conglomerate of pre-contrived events. Because of this, too, the typical drama-evolves-from-misunderstandings premise does not make an appearance; if nothing else, Kimikiss made a point to avoid being predictable from episode one. While that's not to say it was entirely void of any angst or tension, it increased the emphasis on the series' slice of life elements, which ultimately lead to stronger characters and a more solid overall presentation.
Still, Kimikiss does have its faults, especially in the lead-up to its ending sequence. While the series closed with surprisingly few loose ends, I can't say I really cared for either the ending or the changes in the characters that inspired it. At around the two-thirds mark of the show the characters all undergo slight shifts in personality and behavior seemingly at random, which ultimately leads to a buildup in drama and the subsequent climatic overture. It was not bad per se, but it did irk me enough to mention as well as taint my lasting impressions of the series as a whole. Still, my own misgivings aside, it concluded the series in a satisfactory manner - a good ending doesn't necessarily have to be one that I agree with, after all.
As should be expected, the animation lived up to 2007-2008 standards with vibrant character designs and colorful scenery. My only gripe was that Kazuki looked (and behaved) way too similar to Shirou from Fate/Stay Night, which bugged the crap out of me for most of the show. However, superficial male that I am, since most of the girls were cute I was able to tolerate this by simply ignoring him when he was on screen. Sarcasm aside, however, everything looked great from start to finish.
While the soundtrack itself was nothing all too memorable, the catchy opening theme and astute voice acting vaulted Kimikiss' sound score into the "great" category. Connecting with the characters took a matter of minutes, as each voice actor felt as if he or she really enjoyed playing his or her respective role. From Mao's giddy exuberance to Yuumi's shy embarrassment, each scene really came alive through a wash of vocal emotion. It certainly helped, too, that the voice acting flowed with the characters as they grew; many of the more timid characters opened up as the series progressed, and the actors kept on the ball with their development. I've certainly no complaints.
The characters were a mixed bag, as Kimikiss divides them into two distinct groups. One happens to be a love quadrilateral - no, not a more poetic quartet, quadrilateral (though you could also say tetragon and I'd accept it as a valid descriptor - my engineer's intuition says that's okay.) I say this because it's a bit jumbled and not clear at first, but it ends up involving Kouichi and Kai as the two primarily males with Mao and Yuumi as the females. This pans out to the core of the series, as it encompasses, by far, the most enjoyable of the budding romances. Ultimately it distinguishes these four as the strongest of the ten or so characters, as their story follows a more down-to-earth path than the other major romantic line. Toward the end, however, the drama in this particular group takes center stage, and its strength wavers a bit when those character quirks I mentioned earlier come into play. Still, the characters begin and end undeniably solid, and for that I have very few gripes about its overall presentation.
Where I do have gripes is with the complimentary love triangle that involves Kazuki, Futami, and Sakino. For one thing, both Kazuki and Sakino are soccer players yet the writers made not one single effort to research the sport before writing the script. For supposedly being an "awesome" player, Sakino spouts the worst advice on just about every occasion: watch the player not the ball, slide tackle from behind even if it takes out the player (red card!), and many other horrendous atrocities regarding the proper play of the game. As much as that irks me as a player for ten years, however, Futami's proclamations of making everything an "experiment" were a real annoyance toward the beginning of the series. Thankfully her crap died off around the halfway point of the series, which actually ended up making her story somewhat interesting - much to my surprise. Ultimately, while not great, this triangle ends up being rather mediocre in nature, and given its secondary role in the context of the story, makes it entertaining without becoming monotonous.
Had Kazuki's love triangle been great, or even just good, instead of being merely okay, I probably would have bumped Kimikiss up into the 8.0 range. Even with this relatively minor flaw, however, it certainly holds its own as one of the better romances available on the anime market. Though it could have used a slight bit more polish transitioning into its heavier drama portions in its latter half, by-in-large this title displays a tact and finesse many of its contemporaries lack: less hyperbolic drama and more romance-related drama. For my fellow romance fans out there this is not a title to pass by - definitely recommended.
I agree with most of sheex review and simply put this as another point of view.
The story was absolutely fantastic. Character devolpment was fluid and believable and nothing came off as forced or full of crap.
Not a single weak character in the story - each character was interesting and detailed.
The romance was top-knotch. Characters had to make truely difficult solutions to very real problems.
This show was just simply amazing.
Like Sheex, I highly recommend this to romance/drama fans.
I'm surprised there's no negative point of view for this anime. I'll add mine then, it's more how I feel than a review.
There's 2 big love stories in Kimikiss Pure Rouge. One involves what we can call the main protagonists, and is awful. The second involves what we can call important characters and is way way better in all the aspects.
For the main love story : This is mostly a copy/paste of all the bad things... of all the things in Suzuka. The male protagonist is boring as hell, undecided, it's 23 episodes of him who don't know what he's doing with its ignorant head. But anyway, he's the main character, so he has the girls. This is where the woe begin for us. He has the best girl, she's cute, she's adorable, she probably never had a bad feeling in her life, albeit she was a bit boring, and he'll treat her like a b****. Fortunately, she seemed to not be too sad when he left her. She was a smart character, she probably understood that this guy was not worth even one of her hair. That was a half relief to see her like this because I often empathize with the characters. Overall, it's pretty much like in Suzuka, there's nothing much to say, the girl will try her best because she has real feelings for him (poor girl), and he'll just let her down for the shiny girl just because she finally realized she loves him. The nice girl had no chances, it was clear since the beginning, but they made the story anyway. There's maybe an audience for this, but I really really hate these kinds of love stories. This is not love for me, this is just boring.
For the second love story : Here we have better characters, especially the male protagonist. He's not the smartest, he's an idiot to be honest, but a good idiot. The kind of person who learn from his mistakes, who knows what he wants, and who fights to achieve this. He does not change his mind every 5 minutes. And in the end, he's hands up the best character. Around him, 2 girls, but that's not gonna be a problem for him. As I said, he knows what he wants. He choose the strange one, which is finally an interesting character and probably the most developed character in the anime. It was by no means certain he could have her, but he did his best and this was very entertaining. Their story is about how he'll have to work to get the girl he wants, and how love can be cruel for the second girl. But she tried her best until the end in order to have no regrets. She had no chances too, but it was interesting to see how a person can fight because of true love.
The rest is pretty much classic, school, fan service, funny side characters with little depth for most of them, very average art and sound and almost everything is predictable.
But despite the note, I would recommend it for the side love story which I liked a lot and is for 95% of the final note.
For a video review, check out my Youtube channel. Link on my profile page.
I decided to watch it because I had just seen Clannad After Story and I wanted a break from drama. This anime rose above my expectations, I was really enjoying it until...
(WARNING: MASSIVE SPOILERS)
*Considering that Kimikiss is an almost pure romance anime I will talk about the romance first. I must say that Kimikiss is still one of the better romance anime’s I have seen so far. I did the job really well by creating very interesting romances with a lot of plot twist to keep things going.
Related to that, the romances in Kimikiss are very realistic which make them even more interesting. A lot of romance anime’s only show the good side of a relationship but in Kimikiss we get to see all the aspects of a romance, the positive and the negative ones.
By addressing all these the anime succeeded in dragging you into the storyline. It’s not that you’re bored after 5 episodes because everything is just so perfect and nothing ever happens. Kimikiss stays interesting till the end.
*Which brings me almost seamlessly too the characters. I liked every single character in Kimikiss, the 2 main male protagonists Sanada and Aihara and all the female characters with as best example Yuumi Hoshino.
Now I’m going to sound like a real otaku but you can pretty much say that Hoshino is my waifu. I don’t know what it was but I liked her from the first moment that I saw here.
I mentioned my custom list on AP called most adorable female characters before and of course Hoshino takes first place there. I hope that one day I may meet a girl like her in real life because then I know I will fall in love instantly with that girl.
*A last positive point was the fact that we don’t get one but two main story lines. The Aihara storyline, which can be considered as the “secondary” storyline, is as important as the primary storyline being the one of Sanada. Both story lines get an equal amount of screen time and development so that was a big positive point of this anime.
I really liked the Aihara storyline and I was really pleased with the ending. It was kinda predictable that he would choose for Futami at the end but still I thought that they were a really cute couple. Although I wouldn’t have minded if Aihara chose for Sakino in the end.
Sakino’s love for Aihara if probably the deepest one of the anime. She is the embodiment of the sentence "Truly loving someone is wanting too see that person happy, even if it is with someone else.
*A first negative point that I’m going to address is the animation. Kimikiss has very distinguished background art. It looked like it has been drawn with a pencil and than was painted in with a brush. Some people may not like that kind of background art.
But apart from that Kimikiss did have some animation problems from time to time, I remember that especially the movement of the trains could have been a lot better.
*How much I loved the ending of the Aihara story, the more I hated the ending of the Sanada story. I was so pissed off at the ending of the anime. I still can't understand how he could leave Hoshino like that. Now I don’t blame him for having feelings for Mizusawa, it was actually kind of predictable and love is a very strange thing.
I also don't blame Misuzawa for this, she confessed her love but got out of the way and was actually routing for Hoshino.
I do blame Sanada for the way he behaved with Hoshino. From about halfway through the anime Sanada knows that he has feelings for Mizusawa, be a fucking man and break up with Hochino immediately. Don’t play with her feelings like that because Hoshino does start to notice these feelings the further we get into the anime but she keeps believing in their relationship till the end.
So screw you Sanada for being such a goddammed pussy. Related to that is the fact that every character ends the anime on a positive note except Hoshino. You can check literally every single character, even side characters like Narumi or Kuryuu end the anime on a high note. But Hoshino doesn’t. That last shot of her sitting by the fountain just broke my hearth in a thousand pieces.
*A last negative point was that I had some questions at the end of the anime. Some of these questions concerned the character that I just ranted about for the past few minutes but there were some other issues as well.
Like Shijou, we never get to see her fiancé or get any information about their relationship. I wonder if she will ever love him since they have never met.
So as a conclusion, Kimikss could have been one of my all time favorites if that one thing didn’t infuriated me. So I’m going to rate it at 3,5 stars. I however still recommend it if you’re a fan of romantic anime since it is still one the best romance anime’s I have seen till today. And maybe you won’t be as offended as I was.
Seven girls. Two guys. One school. A lot of romance. I won’t blame anyone for flinching at what those words imply, since the high school romance genre is done to death. But I’m not jaded enough to start bashing unoriginal stories just because they’re unoriginal; any story can be good with enough care. But instead of talking about entertainment philosophies, let’s look at Kimikiss ~Pure Rouge~.
The story opens with a quick scene of a lass arriving in town, followed by a scene where main lead Kouichi wakes up from a dream he can’t remember. But as he wakes, the doorbell rings with that lass standing at the front door, who promptly settles down in his house as if she knew him. But Kouichi doesn’t know who she is, until his friend Kazuki shows up at his house as he and the lass quickly recognize each other. The lass is their childhood friend Mao, back from overseas and staying at Kouichi’s house for the time being.
But this event is bound to cause waves, as Kouichi has been trying to build a relationship with his classmate Yuumi, while trying to make a film with Kazuki and their other friend Akira. But Kazuki is worse off, working on that film, being forced into soccer practice with Asuka, and kissing experiments with Eriko! Meanwhile, in the senior class, Mao sparks an odd friendship with Eiji. And in the first year class, Kazuki’s younger sister Nana and her friend Harumi go on...udon cooking adventures.
Well. That complicated quickly. Before going any further, it’s worth noting the udon subplot is pointless but takes a good 15% of the show’s screentime anyway. It serves as comic relief with no impact on the story, which is a shame since the leftover 85% is indispensible, tightly written, and believably blends together like Very Berry Ramen.
Okay, maybe only Eriko would like that flavor. There’s a running joke throughout the show about her lack of taste, but otherwise there’s a lack of humor about her that keeps most people at bay. Kazuki and Eriko share a mutual growth throughout the show that moves Kazuki from indecision to finality, while the ice wrapping Eriko slowly defrosts without changing her aloof attitude. Her laugh at the ramen stand is barely visible but undeniably there, she starts to join Nana and Harumi for lunch, and that stoic face can’t hide her agitation when Asuka confronts her.
The spunky Asuka herself is the one who pushes Kazuki to do his best. He doesn’t know whether to seriously pursue Eriko at first, but thanks in part to the way Asuka pushes him on the soccer field and off it, he decides to go for it. And not just with Eriko, but everything he does in life. His newfound vigor drives him on the soccer field but as it does, he accidentally hurts Asuka’s leg and she’s sidelined from playing for a while. It’s a fitting scene, since it’s more than Asuka’s leg that’s hurt as she soon learns.
The downside to Asuka’s progress is how different she acts before and after her injury. Going from a drill sergeant to a blushing pile of goo after one scene is jarring enough as it is, but here it’s only made worse because of everyone else’s subtle progress. Unfortunately, that subtlety is also taken too far with part of Eriko’s progress, since the reason she’s doing these experiments comes too little, too late. Everything else about Eriko’s progress is otherwise solid and connects well with the rest of the story in the few times they connect.
This connect shows in a recurring scene where Eriko and Mao relax and talk in the school nurse’s office. At first, Mao crashes the nurse’s office just because she’s not a morning person, but later goes there after her personal reasons develop. On the other hand, the genius Eriko goes there just to skip class, but later on even she doesn’t know how to face her feelings. Eriko and Mao’s mutual growth parallel each other like the beds they rest on, with the former experiencing love and the latter being afraid to lose it.
Mao herself is the big sister figure to Kouichi and Kazuki, and always seems on top of everything. Like being the matchmaker for Kouichi and Yuumi, or pushing Kazuki to go after Eriko. But she’s also rounded out, often barging into Kouichi’s room for a round of video games, or her attempts to befriend her classmate Eiji. But as the show goes on, her face denies her actions, and her actions deny her feelings. It could be easy to dislike her for being dishonest, but it can also be something to appreciate. In other words, she’s a believably flawed character.
Then, there’s the somewhat flawless but still compelling Eiji. His aloofness is the most noticeable thing about him until the aesthetics take care of the rest. He’s a late-night jazz saxophonist working at a bar with muted lighting. There’s no word of his family throughout the show, and his teacher criticizes him for focusing too much on music and not enough on his studies. He lives a strange life, but this doesn’t faze him much nor does he develop from it. But that’s not a bad thing, as he’s mature beyond his years as he plays the voice of reason for Mao AND Kouichi.
Kouichi, the main lead, breaks away from the milquetoast quality that’s too easy to fall into. Though he needs a push from Mao to really go after Yuumi, he shows qualities that make it believable why Yuumi would like him. His strong work ethic, like working on the film, is where he and Yuumi spend a lot of time together. And his dreams of being a novelist come from a certain plot point, that lies with a certain someone, who’s with him less and less as the show goes on. Kouichi can’t help but be concerned for this certain someone, and Yuumi can’t help but notice his concern.
Yuumi herself is meek, but she doesn’t shy away from conflict. She takes bad news pretty well, and from to librarian to film maker has a work ethic of her own. Unfortunately, she’s static compared to the rest of the characters. There’s a lack of reaction on her part despite being in love—her incessant blushing doesn’t count—and her role in the story is underwhelming despite being so important. Still, she does nicely build the story in the show’s film subplot.
Because past the romantic drama is a film being made by the honestly devious Akira. But what starts as a waste of time slowly shows itself to parallel the story in many ways. There are script lines that recite themselves in real life, and casting decisions between Yuumi and Mao that are hard to pay mind to, until the story fully plays out. At the end, Akira screens the film, and congratulates himself on making it a tear jerker. Sound melodramatic? Well, the in-show audience’s reaction to the film is tearful but muted. It’s a frighteningly believable response, and shows how strong understated storytelling can be.
This is because the show’s storytelling is restrained. It hardly tries to tell the viewer how to feel, letting dialog and character progress rule each scene instead of a loud soundtrack. This restraint lets the story be serious without being heavy, and lets the lighter scenes exist since they don’t become full-on comedy. These restrained aesthetics show the story’s confidence in its storytelling and its viewers to know the characters, with often superb results.
Let me describe some of those results. When Kouichi and Yuumi are talking after an exam, the viewer can see Mao watching them like the matchmaker she is, but the slight slant to her eyes is a sign of things to come. During an experiment between Kazuki and Eriko in the middle part of the show, a blush and a tremble cross Eriko’s face, while Kazuki is noticeably calmer. And when someone tries to return something to someone else, the viewer WILL know what it means at that point. It’s scenes like this that are powerful, mostly quiet storytelling moments where Kimikiss ~Pure Rouge~ is purely divine.
Unfortunately, when the show heavily relies on music, half the time it makes a muted scene try too hard. When someone shares bad news with another, just having the news foreshadowed and the viewer’s connection to their relationship is enough. Or in the couple of scenes where someone is trying to confide in another, half the time those scenes work and half the time they don’t. The show is 3/4 quiet and 1/4 loud. There’s nothing wrong with a loud scene to show emotion, but it’s a gamble the show loses half the time.
But when the show wins that gamble, it wins big time. When a scene where someone is confiding in another works, the music is perfectly timed. When the second major kiss in the show happens, the first ending number, ‘Negai Boshi,’ perfectly caps the moment. The music itself is often understated and doesn’t stand on its own, but it always sets the mood, rarely failing to be subtle but effective. This is part of the storytelling’s restraint, which also shows its hand in the visuals.
Quite oddly (or quite thankfully!), for a show with several heroines, there’s no overt fanservice. Save for one shower scene and one beach scene, the show uses intimacy to show off its bevy of beauties. Often times after a kiss, there’s a heavy emphasis on the heroine’s lips. Not body. Not mouth. Lips. The lips are shown as is, without any attempt to dress them up, since these girls are quite lovely already. This show knows its heroines are the cover attraction, but plays up their appearance sparingly, gracefully, and with dignity.
The art design itself is lively, brightly colored despite the limited color palette, but nothing great. Its real strength is WHAT happens with the art itself. A second-long flashback followed by a dark, empty apartment implies everything important about a certain character. Or another scene where a bedroom door is framed between two characters, to show the disconnect between what they think the other one thinks. Or really, any time a character’s face tells the story, from Eriko’s denial to Eiji’s intuition.
Of course, strong filmic direction doesn’t mean anything without good pacing. And even counting the pointless udon subplot, the show’s pacing is very solid. There’s always a sense of time for what plot thread is happening when, and they’re not mashed together but connected by mutual characters. The story is multi-layered but still easy to follow. Maybe too easy to follow for its own good.
This is because Kimikiss ~Pure Rouge~ is a romance story through and through. It doesn’t really do anything new for its genre, but it doesn’t need to. It just needs to tell its story well, and it far surpasses that mark despite its flaws. Despite some characters being better written than others, most of them are sincere to the story. Despite being heavy-handed at times, it’s otherwise powerfully quiet. It doesn’t pass with flying colors, but a kiss needs only the color of ~Pure Rouge~.