Sora is a sixteen year old girl who has travelled to the US to join the Kaleido Stage, one of the greatest circuses in existence. However, as luck would have it, she arrives to the audition late, which almost costs her the chance of a lifetime. Fortunately, she manages to join the Kaleido Stage anyways due to the compassion of Kalos, the owner of the troupe. With the help of her friends and Fool, the perverted spirit of the stage who has the ability to predict the future, Sora will overcome trials and tribulations and she struggles to become the Kaleido Star.
StoryAs the saying goes “true friends are those who will help you hide the bodies” or in this case “will watch soggy shoujo anime with you”. With this in mind, both Chii and I embark on another marathon, sharing in the pain of what we thought would be mediocre fluff. Instead, I found bubbling excitement as each instalment of the circus melodrama contained within Kaleido Star loomed closer. Unfortunately, entertainment is subjective and my feelings were not echoed by my partner in crime... The show starts out with a highly predictable “clumsy young girl overcomes the odds to become a star, with a little romance in the mix” plot-line. With a groan from Chii, I steeled myself for 52 episodes of drudgery. How many times are we going to have to see the token bishounen swing into action to save the day? Will there be a moral tale at the end of each show? Will we care? Answering its critics, Kaleido Star soon demonstrates why you should give all anime a fair chance – the ugly caterpillar shakes off its cocoon and took flight as a fascinating butterfly. A hesitant start gives way to an unusual twist and a lovable hero becomes a detestable adversary – a fragmented circus cast are thrust into increasingly reckless routines with wavering loyalties. In building up convincing relationship and highlighting the invetable conflicts that flow from these interactions, the show treats each supporting to character to some back story. The exploration of the past and resulting drama does become a little tiresome, especially when compared to the high-flying trapeze action. However, the constant presence of either a new epic challenge or an antagonist-you-love-to-hate gives the show a must-see feeling that becomes strangely addictive. A shock twist in the second half sees Sora’s resolve waver due to the introduction of new competitors, Leon and May – adding conflict to the ever-present excitement. Whilst cutesy and comical at times, the writers masterfully build up the tension with “will-she-won’t-she” scenarios. Using the comical Spirit of the Stage and his pack of tarot cards to predict the future, the viewer comes to frequently expect the worst and see the heroine fail – even if we all know this never happens in a family friendly title. The tingling apprehension is unmistakable as Sora performs her cunning stunts, and keeps me coming back episode after episode with a smile on my face. Chii’s corner – Kira!!!!!!! this is vomit inducing zomg uber gayAnimationKaleido Star does not reflect its supposed focus on the fluidity and grace of acrobatics in its animation. Bland character designs are routinely recycled and their jerky movements look more like broken clockwork robots when compared to the elegance of real-life gymnasts. Slow motion shots are used ffrequently, giving time for the performer’s inner monologue. That said the backgrounds exploit a rich and luxurious colour palette; from the deep azure blue skies to the sparkling golden tent of the Kaleido stage, the variation and design of costumes are also impressive. The typical Gonzo dabble with CG isn’t as garish as some more recent productions, such as Blassreiter; however, when used sparingly it surprisingly fits with the tone of a delicate shoujo title. Chii’s corner - Uhhhg the animation is so ugly lolSoundBouncing into action with an upbeat track, the background melody meanders along, before finally crashing into the safety net with a god-awful J-rap monstrosity that feels out of place. Redeeming itself a little with the second opening, the tempo is raised and sounds similar to a camp Eurovision entry. Slow violins accompany the moving and emotional scenes, whilst the excitement of the circus is echoed in an electrifying big top melody. I know there is a huge fan-base for the Kaleido Star soundtrack, but my natural aversion to J-pop stops me from appreciating this. The beauty of a dual audio series is getting to sample the quality of both Japanese and English voice acting. For me, Kaleido Star is definitely a show that should be watched in its native tongue. The subtitles reveal how different the scripts became during translation, and how many jokes have been toned down to suit a family orientated audience. For the most part, the Japanese seiyuu are ample but ordinary. However, the characters that are mildly annoying become grating when voiced by whiny Americans. With the very British Sarah sounding more like an extra from Austin Powers and Sora being vocalised by a whiny brat, the laughable performance verges on the comically bad. Chii’s corner - I have it in English! It's SO BAD! hahahaCharactersWith the feeling of a cast you’ve met before, there is a generous helping of stereotyping and typical anime traits. The star of the circus, Miss Layla, is a stuck-up bitch that plays the perfect rival to the up and coming heroine Sora. As detestable as her personality is, I couldn’t help but like her cold and competitive side that pushes the rest of the troupe into giving their best. She is given a reason for her distant attitude, and her unsurpassable skills are shown to be earned through hard work instead of just being “there”. The mid-point of the series sees this pliable blonde undergo a lot of development and soon elevated to the position of a courageous and lovable staple in Kaleido Star – dare I even say one of my favourite female characters ever? As the main female protagonist, Sora also undergoes considerable growth in the first few episodes. Starting out as an ambitious, but clumsy acrobat, she soon transforms into a bubbly aerialist. Even though I initially found myself cheering the dozy bint as she ate mat for the tenth time, I found her determination contagious and was soon on the edge of my seat for her next death-defying stunt and wanting her to land it perfectly. One of my favourite parts of the show was the varied supporting cast. From the comically perverted spirit of the stage, Fool, to the unreadable stage leader Kalos, each acts as a support for Sora’s growth by proposing additional challenges. The second half of the season features Leon “the Grim Reaper” who stirs up the troupe with his selfish personality and May who becomes Sora’s personal challenge and biggest adversary. Again, the initial sense of cliché had me thinking “here we go again”, but the writers develop the characters and add some unexpected twists that had me reaching for the remote's next button in desperation for the next episode. Chii’s corner - What is the point of the bitch? I'm so tired of such a cliché character I want her to fall on her headOverallFeeling like a cross between Princess Tutu and Battle Athletes Victory, Kaleido Star takes a while to come into its own – but the wait is worth it. With an entertaining journey, the show is ultimately nothing but camp fun designed for those looking to sit back and enjoy without having to figure out any plot complexities. I honestly expected to dislike the sentimentality, especially with Chii’s running critique of crudeness, however Kaleido definitely disarmed and then grew on me. As the conflicting comments can contest, this is a love or hate show that will not appeal to everyone, but I definitely enjoyed a heart-warming tale. Final words of wisdom from Chii - (KiraRin) Chii, bad news, I'm giving it an 8 (Chii) You have brain cancer (Chii) You make kids in Africa cry
Kaleido Star, to me, is a very inspirational and unique anime. The story got me so hooked I really wished there was a kaleido stage around where I live so I could watch a show! Haha Story The story starts off with a rookie stage perfomer Sora who came to American to join Kaleido Stage. Then throughout the anime we follow Sora who make friends with the kaleido star members and watch her improve in her career. Sounds pretty boring right? But the way the story was lay out and the character development was just well planned out! Though the romance aspect is left out, theres still some pairings you can do in the anime. (HEHEHE) Animation For the year it was made, the animation is actually pretty well done. I didn't see too many flaws in the animation, even the parts when they're performing, it is still nicely animated. Sound Sora's voice started off pretty annoying to me but I got use to it afterwards. The music in this anime is marvelous. The 1st and 2nd OP is amazing, and the ED is also amazing. Lyrics suited the anime very well too. Insert music goes well with situation. Its nearly perfect! Characters Honestly, the characters aren't very unique looking. However what makes them great is that they're more realistic than anime characters nowadays. You won't find 'moe' or 'type cast' characters in this anime. Which to me is a + Overall Great and very enjoyable anime! Its very funny too! though 1 thing to add into the show to make it better is ROMANCE! I can't live without romance! TT-TT
All I can say is that Kaleido Star is one of the most under-rated, under-appreciated animes of all time. This anime came to me by accident, and I'm thankful for that miracle today. This is an awe-inspiring anime that is made to inspire you to follow your dreams and never ever give up! Sora is an amazing role model, and through every challenge she faces, you are there, wanting to cheer her on. The story itself I really enjoyed. The pacing is great and plot twists make it exciting to see what happens next. The animation isn't the best you've ever seen, but I do appreciate the animators for making the characters bend in real form rather then making them look like floppy sock puppets or stiff stick figures. The music can get repetitive, but it's still puts you at the scene of a huge theatrical circus. On a personal note, if you are a fan of dubbed, consider a switch for this anime. The English Sora is a bit on the loud and obnoxious side, rather than confident yet sweet side. The real magic of this anime, is not only the performances, but it's the characters that will inspire you. Everyone one of them are well-rounded. They all have their own stories, uniqueness and qualities you can appreciate. You may even come to find yourself liking the snooty brats who are always jealous of Sora, because no one is truly evil, just misunderstood. No matter what your feelings are on this anime, give it a few episodes and begin to realize what I am saying. "You may never think that watching someone else achieve their dream would give you the courage to accomplish your own, so let yourself become inspired to follow your dreams with all you have!"
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