Posted by: coolerbecky | June 18, 2009

High Flying Adored

There’s been a bit of an obsession with circuses lately. Both Britney Spears and Pink are coming to Australia with circus themed concerts, and that’s not counting the general public’s obsession with ever pretentious Cirque Du Soliel.

Kaleido Star is a gorgeously designed anime that celebrates the best (and worst) of circus life. The anime follows the life of Sora Naegino, a young Japanese gymnast who flies to America to audition for the Internationally acclaimed circus, Kaleido Stage. Despite being overlate for the auditions, Sora manages to impress the circus owner and gets herself a place in the Kaleido Stage’s training program.

Like any fledgling performer, Sora has her problems with the stage. She soon discovers that circus life isn’t quite what she dreamed about – her idol Layla Hamilton isn’t as kind as her stage persona would have people believe and other performers are jealous of her success.

Kaleido Star is beautifully directed and uses very little “stock footage”. While the Kaleido Stage is a fantastical circus, most (but not all) of the tricks used in the show are… physically possible, albiet ridiculously difficult and possibly fatal. The show focuses more on the backstage rather than the actual acts themselves. What little is shown of onstage antics is ultimately inspiring – costumes are beautifully designed, while acts and tricks are challenging and beautiful. I’d certainly love to work in a circus like that!

The storyline is fascinating. Sora’s path to success isn’t quite as straighforward as one would think and her ultimate success is closely linked to the circus and to her rival and idol, Layla Hamilton.

My only major beef with this anime is that it suffers suffers from that specialised “Pollyanna Syndrome” that seems to afflict anime for young girls.

The main character Sora, for example, seems to be manic-depressive – she’s either EXTREMELY SUPER HAPPY or EXTREMELY SUPER SAD. Everything she touches turns into pure gold – she manages to master an extremely complex trapeze trick within a week and becomes the star of the circus practically overnight. Her overly idealistic and optimistic behaviour is both unbelievable and irritating. She’s so perfect, that she makes me want to gag.

That’s not to say that Kaleido Star is a bad anime, but there are parts of it that are so sweet that it borders on saccharine. The anime is directed by TV veteran Junichi Sato (Sailormoon and Pretear) and it shows, both in the glitz and glamour of the animation as well as in the storyline direction.

Kaleido Star is worth taking a look at, even if it is just to watch with your kids.

You can find out more about Kaleido Star at the official website by ADV films –http://www.advfilms.com/titles/kaleidostar/.

WARNING: While I highly recommmend the first season of Kaleido Star, the same recommendation does not apply to the Kaleido Star: New Wings, the second season of the series.

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