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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  • SuperMario
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 12:46 PM)
    @Bam: yeah, that sounds good. I will watch it and tell you how I think (hope my taste is not that weird ^^)
  • SuperMario
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 12:45 PM)
    @Bam: for some weird reasons I prefer Inherent Vice as it as, if the film was better or the plot was tigher I would think Anderson as a more calculated director. This version of Injerent Vice is wild and more crazy that actually make me think more fondly of him.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 12:27 PM)
    @SuperMario: Neighbouring Sounds was great. Judging from what I gathered of your taste, my money’s on you digging it as well.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 12:23 PM)
    @SuperMario: as I said I really liked the tone and the atmosphere and the atmosphere in Inherent Vice, but the overarcing plot is thin and True Dtectige season 2’s level of self-importance. A lot of scenes serve as mere venues for the great actors just cheering the secondary. A.tighter script and a little less directorial indulgence would’ve made it a lot better. Punch-Drunk Love is one such great example.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 12:16 PM)
    @Kaiser: the Master is brilliant, and I liked Boogie Nights, but others have much more love for it than me.
  • SuperMario
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 11:59 AM)
    Btw, in preparation for Cannes, I plan to watch Kleber Mendonça Filho’s previous work Neighbouring Sound. Have any of you watched the movie yet?
  • SuperMario
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 11:31 AM)
    I think P.T Anderson is one of the rare director who doesn’t go wrong with his works. There will be blood and the master as his masterpiece but I do really enjoy the tone of Inherent Vice and Punch drunk love actually keepps getting better for me
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 11:19 AM)
    There was a found footage horror film with a hunter s Thompson inspired character, had a lovecraftian element to, Banshee chapter, utter hokum/nonsense but in an interesting vein.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 11:14 AM)
    Paul Thomas Anderson must be one heck of an director of actors though, given he actually managed to make good use of Adam Sandler…
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 11:10 AM)
    On Wes Anderson I loved how whimsical Moonrise kingdom was and Darjeeling limited had a genuine heart to it.
    Fantastic Mr fox I can take or leave, its pretty much a childrens film. Budapest and life aquatic didn’t jive with med comedically.

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