I did a marathon viewing of Paradise Kiss’ 12 episodes last weekend…and two minutes into the ending, my current belief was affirmed–love never stays.
Yukari Hayasaka is the main character of Paradise Kiss and she’s typical Japanese high school senior. Although she’s very beautiful, she smiles very little in the beginning and she always looks stern or stressed or pressured. Walking the streets one day, Yukari is accosted by Arashi Nagase, a bleached, body-pierced guy who tells her she has the perfect look. Shocked by his bizarre appearance and uncomprehending of his intentions, Yukari tries to escape, but bumps into an extremely tall woman dressed in elaborate clothes, is “captured” by her, faints, and is brought to the Paradise Kiss atelier.
She regains consciousness in the studio and meets the lolita-ish Miwako, Arashi’s pink-haired girlfriend. They then explain that they are students at the unique art school Yazawa Gakuen, and they ask her to be their model for the school’s annual fashion show. At first she angrily declines and leaves in a huff, dropping her student handbook.
Soon after, she meets their eccentric leader/designer, George, who under the guise of returning the ID book, introduces Yukari to the world of fashion, to the world of Paradise Kiss. Drawn by the allure of Paradise Kiss members’ determination and George’s charisma, Yukari is quickly swept off her feet and into the cut-throat world of fashion and romance. Tensions also rise as her demanding mother, Tomoko pushes at Yukari to succeed as a student.
Personally, while I’m not terribly particular about the character design (hahaha! I lied! I do look at character designs), it took a while for me to grow into liking how ParaKiss characters were created. It definitely wasn’t the cutesy type and there’s this edgy aura around the characters but when George Koizumi began getting close up shots–any sane fan girl would be hardpressed to deny that he is totally hot. Oh and did I mention that he’s a bisexual character and that only adds plus points to his appeal for me?
But aside from my fangirl preoccupation with George, the story was quite dramatic. It was romance/slice of life/coming of age type of anime with lots of tears, slapping sequences, kissing scenes and well..sex. There was also a journey to self-discovery too thrown in the mix of things.
In my honest opinion though and it may be vastly different from the rest of ParaKiss viewers, Paradise Kiss was a bit overhyped and overrated. On my scale of 1-10, it registers in at 6.5–it’s the kind of anime I could have lived without. It did have moments of course but fell way short of the Honey and Clover level or even Kareshi Kanojo No Jijou. The characters were quite forgettable–I didn’t really root for the protagonist that much, save maybe George but even then, I was anxiously waiting for the end too much because the journey was not very appealing to me.
I mean, it’s great that ParaKiss explored intimate relations because sex really is a part of life, but I guess I was hoping for a beautiful script, thought provoking ideas (e.g. concepts of beauty, bisexuality, ambition) and a love story that will give me insomnia for the next few days because of it’s wonder but instead I find a lukewarm ending.
But then again, maybe it ended like that because in real life, there are no grand endings–just barely there closure and bittersweet memories. So if that’s the point ParaKiss was trying to prove, then yeah, love always has an end.