Posted on 3 January 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews


Kaleido Star is yet another example of why Gonzo can produce really outstanding series when they really want to. It first starts out as your average shoujo series about gymnastics and acrobatics, complete with ultra-talented female rival, a just as talented male potential love interest and another love male interest. And yet, with these ingredients it grew into everything a good shoujo series should be.

What made this series work so well is its excellent use of its 52 episodes. The first 26 episodes are already a very capable series by themselves. They show perfectly how Sora (the lead character) rises as a capable rival for Layla, emphasizing guts and hard work, never giving up, and including a number of plot twists that make sure to emphasize that not everything always happens in the lead character’s favour. Overall it’s a very satisfying story by itself, and then the second half of the series comes and pushes this development even further. The new characters of Leon and May really manage to get the best out of Sora in terms of development and make her into a really memorable character by the end of the series, and both of them also pretty impressive by themselves.

Since this is a series about acrobatics, performances also play a huge part in it. And while the creators didn’t have an unlimited budget, the animation does look really nice nonetheless. Especially the costume design for the different parts that are played throughout the series are top-notch, and the creators know exactly how to use their camera-angles and lighting effects to create a great show, based on still shots and close-ups.

If I had to mention a flaw in this series… then it lacks realism. Some of the moves that are performed by the characters are near-impossible, while at other times they master top-notch moves with only a week of training, not to mention that this is a series where seals turn into dogs. But really, the characters shine enough to make up for this flaw, and it never really gets in the way of what really is important for this series. Neither is the romance, by the way. When I first started watching this series, I was afraid that typical silly love triangles would develop over time, but the romance only appeared once in a while, and knew exactly that it shouldn’t get in the way of the characters.

So yes, this series deserves all of the praise it gets. Even though it’s got 52 episodes, every single one of them is dedicated somehow to pushing one of the characters forward, and I especially liked how much of an in-depth look it gave into the themes of working to your dreams and never giving up. It’s a wonderful series, definitely the product of Good Gonzo.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 9/10

9 Responses

  1. DmonHiro says:

    Ah…the good old gonzo…not the crap-infested, manga butchering one that we have

  2. Captain[ChoC] says:

    i was waiting for you to review this someday, and i’m glad you loved it as much as i did
    that’s the gonzo we love :)

  3. Shippoyasha says:

    Haha, nice. Another old favorite of mine.

    I do agree the realism could have gotten a boost, but alas, it’s as realistic as Prince of Tennis. lol.

    The characters REALLY stand out though. Especially Sora. Her struggle against her own dream is actually sorta melancholic in a way. Very nice anime directed by the director of Sailor Moon and all.

  4. Ialda says:

    Nice review of a very nice show; the perfect use of melodrama reminded me of older shoujo shows (Garakame, Berubara), aka the masters of the field.

    I would just tend to hold another opinion about the lack of realism. IMO, it serves to convey the faery-tale-like sense of wonder of héroically forging your own destiny and showing the magical quality of the stage (in more than one sense – see Fool).

    (speaking of a J. Sato works, have you reviewed Princess Tutu btw ?)

  5. psgels says:

    Ialda: no, I haven’t. I once watched the first few episodes, but I still need to watch the rest of the series.

  6. Camario says:

    I actually had the opportunity to watch Kaleido Star some years ago, before certain logistical problems got in the way…and thus I remained largely ignorant and ultimately uninterested, but now I’m starting to regret that. Guess time fixes everything, one way or the other. The show does sound like something I might want to see.

  7. Captain[ChoC] says:

    well if you havent watched princess tutu, stop everything you’re doing and watch it now, you wont regret it, trust me :) it’s a masterpiece in my opinion

  8. Chris says:

    Juunichi Sato (the director) is great! Kaleido Star, Pretear and Sailor Moon S are some of the most entertaining series in the shoujo genre.

  9. summerberries says:

    Kaleido star is good series, but I wouldn’t rate 90/100. It’s just a regular shojo series, not unique. Same twist -circus theme, but fun to watch.

    Lots of pretty colours, good flow of story. Towards the end, it gets too extreme and unrealistic. Nonetheless, very colourful and sugary.

    Character-wise, a recycled personality. cheerful, cute, active, innocence, honest girl who always try her best.
    I would rate 75-80 / 100

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  • Brad Kremer
    (Thursday, Apr 17. 2014 07:57 PM)
    Hello, I recently made a film telling the story of Dogo Onsen. As you may know, Dogo Onsen was the inspiration for the look of the bath house in Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. The Legend of Dogo Onsen
    https://vimeo.com/91544453 Subtitled
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  • ninjarealist
    (Thursday, Apr 17. 2014 06:49 PM)
    @psgels Yeah I feel you about the spam bots. I mentioned a specific terrible anime website that gets link spammed all over the place. If only they would put that much effort into their content.
  • Friend
    (Thursday, Apr 17. 2014 02:52 PM)
    @Aidan dat straightforwardness XD
    Sidonia is a little strange, Ill have to see how well it sticks for a few more episodes.
  • AidanAK47
    (Thursday, Apr 17. 2014 10:28 AM)
    @Roger, It’s funny just how little it took for you to say “Screw you guys. I’m going home.”
    Rather flaky if you ask me. Not that you would be missed of course.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Apr 17. 2014 09:04 AM)
    *typoed an M instead of a , =<
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Apr 17. 2014 09:03 AM)
    *isn’t felt as much.
    I actually that while he drew the monsters and robots pretty well and was as always dependable drawing the scenery his modern art actually loses alot of his older style actually benifitted from.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Apr 17. 2014 09:01 AM)
    Sidonia no kishi volumes 1 through 8: All in all compotent, decent m average enough to stick with and even buy the rest of it. The setting, tech/science is fine, its not trapped by exposition and when the action shows up its enjoyable to look at/read, good designs on the monsters too. However the flow/pace of it is a bit off, it drags, meanders a bit, its too mainstream for that author and favours poorly in comparison to the rest of his work. The athmosphere, roughness, grit isn’t felt.
  • Roger
    (Thursday, Apr 17. 2014 08:48 AM)
    Seems my Mushi-shi post finally showed up, so I guess ill just abandon that Nickname to avoid the issue.
  • Roger
    (Thursday, Apr 17. 2014 08:46 AM)
    @psgels I posted as Spike coincidentally my shoutboxes also disappear when using that name
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Apr 17. 2014 08:41 AM)
    I guess a moderation system wouldn’t necessarily be of the cards, I too tend to find all the bots pretty annoying too.

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