When it comes to anime, it’s always refreshing to find one that is unique, carries a diverse set of characters and visually beautiful. I remember the summer of 2014 where I was working my first job out of college when my friend recommended the anime Paradise Kiss. She felt I would adore it as its art style resembled some of the manachek (korean comics) that I used to read combined with fashion, drama and romance. In the end the anime that came out in 2005 changed my take on anime altogether.
The introduction of this anime is awfully strange. It really doesn’t make sense and I feel that is what really caught my attention. You see photographs with animation drawn on it. A frog jumping off a girl’s hat and a godzilla like creature behind buildings. Yet, bear with it because it’s only to throw you off. This anime is only 12 episodes long and captures a rather complicated story, with lots of character development in a short amount of time. The plot is rather simple: a high school girl, Yukari, is stopped on the streets of Tokyo and asked to model for team of designers known as ParaKiss. Yukari is a bit hesitant but she agrees to model for them as they prepare for a fashion show at the festival of Yazawra Art School. Yukari also begins to fall in love with the main designer in the group, Joji, who hopes Yukari learns to become an independent women. The romance that develops between Joji and Yukari isn’t the only love battle occurring. Miwako, a childlike, pink bubblegum haired girl, finds herself in a love triangle between ParaKiss member Arashi, a punky, pierced individual, and Hiroyuki an intelligent and handsome prodigy who was once in love with Miwako. The past that the three share catches up to them in the end of their high school years.
As far as characters, this anime has the most diverse set I have witnessed so far. The mom figure of ParaKiss is a character known as Isabella, who’s also a transgender women. You often find her giving advice and trying to help navigate the hearts of the other characters. Joji, Yukari’s love interest, is actually a bisexual male whose mother was only a mistress to his father. A rich, pleasure seeking boy, Joji is extremely creative creating extravagant ideas that aren’t usually accepted by the norm. Miwako, although childlike, show that even small packages come with big heart. Her unique vocabulary also makes her an impressive character, as she continues to fight for what she wants. The dynamic between Arashi and Hiroyuki also show that opposites can make amends. We watch Arashi struggle with an inferiority complex against Hiroyuki, making him believe Miwako would leave him. With Miwako’s help their friendship is mended as Arashi learns that being handsome and smart isn’t everything. The characters really grow up and learn about themselves in this anime. Although, the anime is short, it leaves enough to the audience to let us know where the characters will be in the long run.
Lastly, the artwork in this anime is stunning. Characters are drawn with ridiculous height and body proportions. Long and slender with brilliant looking eyes and facial expressions. The artists really took care with the detail of each character ensuring that their personalities flair out with their clothes, accessories, and body language. There is nothing more you can ask for from an anime about fashion, love and style.
How did Paradise Kiss change my take on anime? This anime really covers the taboos of sexuality in Japanese culture. Each of the characters are battling something that is against the “norm” of Japan. Being transexual, bisexual, even having sex in high school, is considered taboo and unheard of. This anime has women owning their sexuality while men redefine sexuality. To me this anime was the writer’s way of introducing LGBTQ lifestyles into Japanese Culture. Even for us Americans, we can learn a lot about respecting those who are in the LGBTQ community.
Overall if you like NaNa or other girly romance animes, this anime maybe for you. You won’t be able to find it on Hulu, CrunchyRoll or Netflix, but it’s worth watching. If you love the anime there is also a live action film for it, just check out the trailer below.