The problem with most bishoujo game based anime love stories is that the focus isn’t on the romance and how it blooms, but mostly on fleshing out the girls themselves. Because of that, you can’t really say that their romance stories are ‘romantic’. In the end, they are just giving character to the character, like revealing her secrets, exposing her pasts, or giving a little character development bump for posterity. Also, I feel like a male lead of many a bishoujo love story is so generic anyone could take his place. They have no personalities, or even if they do, they are just there without any relation to the love story. This is where shoujo romance anime takes the lead, because character development is in equal footing between the two sexes. In shoujo anime you can see a male character developing in relation to the love story with the female partner, and it makes for more interesting viewing for me than some generic harem where all you care about are the girls. So when I saw Kimikiss -pure rouge-, I was getting mighty impressed. I feel like it’s a perfect mixture of not only the best bishoujo/harem anime had to offer, but also the best that shoujo anime has in store. While in the end it wasn’t that ‘perfect’, I think Kimikiss would have earned its proper rank in my list of the best romance animes ever made.
Breaking bishoujo/harem mold from the start is how they have at least three male leads instead of just one. Of course Kouichi is the leader of the band but the two other members Kazuki and Kai have equally competent characters on their own. These guys are involved in two major love arcs that comprise Kimikiss, which I can basically summarize as:
Actually, I would say that the main character in Kimikiss is not Kouichi, rather, it’s actually Mao-neechan. The feel of the anime is really from a female viewpoint, and this is where I derive the series’ rather shoujo-ish vibe. Not only that, the male leads here have some depth in their character. They are not typical lifeless dorks like all the other male leads of the harem world. I can have as much fun dissecting the guys’ character as dissecting the girls. So let’s go to the guys first. Kouichi, the storywriter, may be the most typical of the four, but kudos to him for stepping up and getting the girl early on (although still with Mao-neechan’s help), and he really held the relationship well. Kai, the sax man, has a presence similar to the quiet but cool guys of the shoujo universe. Kazuki, the soccer player, may be the baka-chara on the surface but his straight tunnel-vision for the girl he loves is truly admirable. Lastly, there’s another guy, Hiiragi, movie director, which may act as the typical sidekick of the bishoujo game world, but he’s not as annoying as many of them.
Just like any bishoujo anime, we have a sizable cast of beauties as well. Mao is the energetic onee-chan, Yuumi is the shy girl, Asuka is the soccer cool beauty, and Eriko is the intelligent but insociable girl. They may look like the usual bishoujo game archetypes at first but they have enough depth in character to play the game of love with the guys. Other girls who didn’t get too much shine include an imouto-type and her best friend, a rich but kind ojousama, tsundere iincho, and hawt sensei.
The uniqueness of Kimikiss lies in the fact that it doesn’t run like your typical bishoujo game turned anime world. It actually proceeds like a slow but sure shoujo romance anime. The pacing may be slice-of-life, and if you are keen enough, you already know where the story is heading, but the way they present it, it’s really, should I say… “romantic”! Surprise! This is an anime with so many “kilig moments” (sweet romantic moments). I never thought that with its dating sim roots it could be this nice. You can fall in love with the characters, and you genuinely root for a character or a pairing. Personally I was kinda wishing for a Kazuki X Asuka, they match so well together.
Technically, the animation is great. Although slight moments of inconsistent character art happens, the girls are nevertheless wonderfully animated. The opening sequence is one for the record books, I absolutely loved it with a guilty passion! It’s totally MAD material too, and I hope MAD makers take notice, like these ones from Haruhi. The voice cast is good here too, there are big-name seiyuu gracing the audio waves, although the bigger ones are in the smaller roles.
So many good points about Kimikiss so far. Unfortunately we have to go through the main negative of the series. While none of them are show-stoppers, it’s kinda annoying to realize that the show would have been much, much more than what it is if they’d try harder. Why didn’t they make some story out of the other interesting minor characters? I thought that “rich-ojousama” Shijou would have some story with her fiance and all, but I guess that got canned. And what’s with the last-minute Hiiragi and “tsundere iincho” Kuryu pairing? That angle came at the very last few episodes, having no chance at a story at all. Too bad, I have this thing for tsunderes… And why the heck did “cute Udon Girl” Narumi get huge opening-sequence exposure without her having a love story AT ALL? She’s too busy searching for the Ultimate Udon. Everytime she and “imouto” Nana grace the screen with their stupid frog dolls I always shake my head. These extra characters have so much story potential, why not use them? With the incompleteness of the anime I always wondered if they thought of these extra arcs:
“Nana and Narumi falls in love with the same guy, or Narumi with Kazuki which draws Nana-Narumi friendship backlash”
Would have been awesome additions if you ask me. Yes, that was my blueprint for a perfect Kimikiss anime. Too bad this only went for 24 episodes instead of 39 or 52. No really, I would have hailed it as the “best romance anime EVER”. Almost… almost. But anyway, it’s based on a dating sim after all, so I think the other girls still have their shining moments on the game instead.
I guess Kimikiss is faulty for giving plot hints but not developing them, or developing them too late. The stories they did develop though were awesome, and right now I’m hearing a lot of different opinions from the anime blogosphere, especially regarding the ending. I think Kimikiss got a lot of flak for the mere fact that it ‘had’ to end. It’s just an anime after all. So we have to dig deeper, because if this story were real, it really hasn’t ended, yet. Your favorite pairing may not be together by episode 24 but your mind can think up of ways to get them back together again. I know I did with Kazuki X Asuka (awwww). Despite the polarity of the reactions of viewers, I believe we are in consensus on one thing… we all love the Kimikiss characters. We care so much about their love-lives as if they were real, because they kinda reflect our own love-lives too. The way I personally cared about them is similar to shoujo series where characters are so complex (read: human) and lovable. Shoujo-vibes aside though, I guess Kimikiss deserves unique praise being such a unique anime about a very unique human emotion called “love”. Highly recommended.
Their story goes on in my mind. I’m actually watching ep. 27 right now… lol. I wanna check out the game too.