Posted by psgels 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 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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  • Emma
    (Friday, Feb 27. 2015 11:14 PM)
    @Swa: I felt for completions and being a huge fan of macross in general’s sake I should do so, but after the first episode , the most I can say is this hasn’t aged well and if I continue its going to be at best a guilty pleasure.
  • swa
    (Friday, Feb 27. 2015 08:19 PM)
    Macross 7… poor you, I suppose you already watched it by now. Not my favorite Macross for sure.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, Feb 24. 2015 07:21 AM)
    All thats left now is macross 7.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, Feb 24. 2015 07:20 AM)
    However this one begged to go on for more than just five episodes, come on now and it had the franchises penchant for weak villains. It doesn’t get me as emotional as do you remember love does, the characters of Macross plus were more likeable. Still its a step above Macross II and I at least had fun with it on an action level.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, Feb 24. 2015 07:17 AM)
    Thats Macross zero completed then, it was great to see the background arc/plot for this franchise, the pace is tight and the action is arguably the most immersive, well done of the Macross universe along with Frontier.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Feb 24. 2015 04:33 AM)
    While Tatami Galaxy and Ping Pong were definitely sharp I felt that Kemonozume and Kaiba were more inventive.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, Feb 24. 2015 04:30 AM)
    Aye,it was the visual style of the film being so different from the norm that drew me in. Still out of Yuaasa’s stuff I found myself more taken with tatami galaxy.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Feb 24. 2015 04:22 AM)
    I think creatively the anime industry has plateaued a bit by now, where we see more derivative stuff and there has a formed an almost universal “anime style” which hinders non-traditional voyeurism.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Feb 24. 2015 04:18 AM)
    I love the tonal whiplash that the story goes thru and the then-impressive-and-new visuals. Both 4°C and Hifana take queues from the Kansai art and the underground graffiti styles that prospered in Japan after the 70’s. Parallel to the postmodern movement in the Western world, the new wave was more expressive than fine and you see its heavy influence on the manga and anime industry.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, Feb 24. 2015 04:14 AM)
    @Bam: It is at the last stretch on the film where it is at its strongest visually in my opinion.

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