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.
It's spring, and love is in the air! Sanada Kouichi wakes up one morning to find a strange girl barging into his house and making herself at home. Only after his friend, Aihara Kazuki, shows up later does he recognize the girl as their childhood friend Mizusawa Mao, who has been living overseas for the past two years. With her parents still overseas, Mao will be living with Kouichi and attending high school with him and Kazuki. The three of them will rely on each other to overcome their challenges with school, friendship, and of course love!
Though I'm a big fan of slice of life and romance, I'll watch just about anything that catches my interest. My opinions tend to be pretty level-headed, but I have been known to be controversial from time to time! Feel free to lay into me if you so desire, as I always appreciate feedback - positive or negative. I hope you enjoy reading!