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
    (Sunday, Mar 29. 2015 05:18 AM)
    Oh, awesome, dark horse is releasing volume 10 of black lagoon in April, its been nearly five years since the last complete volume…
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Mar 29. 2015 03:56 AM)
    @Aidan: I think theres something seriously wrong when theres the actually possibility of there being a good PA works anime but we all have our opinions =P
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, Mar 29. 2015 03:13 AM)
    @Raggers, I will go into detail when I review it. But I think something is seriously wrong when I get a far more satisfying ending out of shirobako than Death parade.
    Looking forward to writing a review of shirobako too.
  • Raggers
    (Sunday, Mar 29. 2015 02:56 AM)
    @Aidan: it wasn’t bad though. I think it suffered from too high expectations and lack of focus (or overreaching).
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, Mar 29. 2015 02:29 AM)
    Well. Death parades ending was quite underwhelming.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Mar 28. 2015 11:21 PM)
    Waiting between releases for this will be a good thing, its the sort of manga you pick up and put down, then go back to with breaks in between.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Mar 28. 2015 11:13 PM)
    13 volumes into dorohedero, I’ve found it good enough to buy now that I’ve caught up with the official English releases. While the plot meaders and is kind of messy, isn’t up to much, I love how crazy the gory action is, the gritty artstyle/world and the black comedy more than well make up for it. It works best when focused on those masked gangster magician guys and also the main character, the others are only alright.
  • Raggers
    (Saturday, Mar 28. 2015 02:19 AM)
    @Aidan: true, but I don’t think the level is anywhere close to a true shounen. And once the basic rules are established it’s strategising and straight out fighting.
    I’d be more inclined to call it seinen with shounen elements than actually shounen.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 09:59 PM)
    Good all action finale to cap off Garo there, went out with a bang, though thing is I have no idea where their going to go with this when the movie, second season comes along, this seems like a pretty good point to finish.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 27. 2015 05:35 PM)
    I think that just about all the manga serialized in ultra jump feel less seinen than those serialized in other seinen magazines.

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