Minor Spoilers Ahead!
Paradise Kiss, sometimes referred to as ParaKiss, aired in 2005 on select channels. In a genre saturated by other anime that found their way onto Netflix in the early 2000s, Paradise Kiss went a bit under the radar. Instead, other “easily digestible” anime such as Ouran High School Host Club were opted to air rather than Paradise Kiss.
Despite that, due to the age of the internet, Paradise Kiss has found a niche audience — and, honestly, I believe it deserves a bit more recognition for its progressive themes for the time in which it came out!
The Average Opinion
The reviews of the anime adaptation of Paradise Kiss on MyAnimeList show a diverse array of opinions, with most reviewers praising the unique aspects of the series while pointing out a few shortcomings. Because of this, it’s a bit difficult to get a gauge on this anime by simply reading reviews. Many reviewers appreciated the anime’s focus on fashion, its mature storyline, and its divergence from typical love stories. Others cite this “divergence from typical love stories” as a negative, stating that it feels too bittersweet and thus unenjoyable. Several users lauded the characters for their relatability and human-like characteristics, despite their flaws. Others state that the characters are flat and one-dimensional. These conflicting opinions make it a little hard to really see what Paradise Kiss has to offer.
So, what’s true and what isn’t?
The (Lack of) Sound
Well, one thing’s very strange about this show, leading to this overwhelming sense of… discomfort. That being the lacktherof a soundtrack. There’s rarely music playing in the background, or rather external sound effects at all — in many instances, the character’s footsteps are muted, and the only sound available is their speaking.
I feel like this is a directorial flaw; it leads to this weird feeling that something is supposed to happen, but isn’t going to.
The Love Story
What starts as a drama quickly turns into a Romance story between Yukari, the protagonist, and George, a third-year high school student from a fashion school. It’s obvious these two characters don’t have much chemistry, and yet they find one another irresistible.
Yukari and George’s story aren’t the only love story in this series, though; Asahi, the blonde boy with many piercings (that look very dangerously done, by the way) — and Miwako, a girl with pink hair, have their own entangling love triangle. Miwako at one point tells her woes to Yukari, who tries her best to help.
In this sense, the “Love” in Paradise Kiss doesn’t feel like the typical Shoujo love story. It’s realistic, oftentimes lacking in fluffyness, and more jagged and sharp than smooth and flowing. It hurts, and we see the characters have fights and sometimes even act against their own best interests. They contradict one another.
In this sense, I really enjoy the love stories in “Paradise Kiss”. I think they’re very well written!
I’m a sucker for weird artwork. I love Mob Psycho 100, and alternatively the art style of Demon Slayer is gorgeous. I also really like Nana, and Paradise Kiss has the same “early 2000’s grunge Anime Aesthetic” that I grew up watching. Think xxxHolic with more color.
However, one thing I really appreciate about this series is that at least to me, a westerner, Yukari is… kind of ugly. Her haircut looks horrid to me, and that adds to the dynamics of the characters. It doesn’t matter what I personally think of Yukari’s appearance; others find her beautiful, and thus treat her as such. My own superficial ideas here don’t matter all that much.
That aside, the characters are extremely well designed, especially Isabella. In case people missed it, Isabella is transgender (or at least, an early-2000’s anime’s idea of what “transgender” is). I really love how feminine they allowed Isabella to embrace herself. She is not overly sexual nor obviously transgender — Yukari doesn’t even know before Miwako outs Isabella — , and it feels pretty progressive for an early 2000’s show.
One of the major shortcomings of this show is its attempt at Comedy. Sometimes the characters will become this chibi artstyle of themselves as they talk about silly things, or they’ll act nervous or out of character — but the lack of sound effects or music during these scenes make the comedy simply come off as awkward.
I genuinely, truly wish they leaned more into the “drama” and attempted less comedy, because it feels as though it takes away from the story.
Do I regret watching Paradise Kiss? No! Not at all. However, this anime is the type that I feel as though I need to watch on 1.3 or 1.4x speed, otherwise I’ll get secondhand embarrassment.
The mature themes include finding oneself, listening too much to others, and parental abuse. For a shoujo anime, that’s really dark — but also, for a shoujo anime, there’s not a lot of fluff either. This anime feels like the quick, impulsive, intoxicating nature of one’s late teenage years, and being in their 20’s myself, I truly feel that I relate to the protagonist and long to be in her position again!
VERDICT: Neat and Interesting!
What do you all think of Paradise Kiss? Let us know in the comments!
For more Reviews, check out our other articles here on LAN!