Much More Interesting With A Darker Turn Of Events
khryoleoz | 12/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
Interesting editorial review. However weightless and saccharine cotton candy is in substance, its consumption is delightful in taste and texture and can cause one to gain a few pounds by having enough of it. A fitting metaphorical description of Kaleido Star New Wings indeed.
All at the same time, this batch of new episodes is fun, exciting, frustrating, and heart-breaking. We open the second half of the finest anime in my library with a 2-episode long series recap which highlights the major events of the first half. These are narrated by Fool, giving us some perspective insight to the events that occur. The third episode is the beginning of new events that start the second season arc. We find that some months have passed and Kaleido Stage is without Layla and with Sora having inherited the role of leading star by virtue of Layla's absence. Still green and far from having acquired the first class capabilities and intense stage presence that Layla possesses, she is struggling to attract large audiences by her own performance merits alone. She is late for the opening performance of Saiyuki, but that is because she was misguidedly advertising, though in a way that is quite amusing. Her relationship with Leon, a world-class performer who is called in by Kalos to be her new partner, is cold and confrontational, with him resisting and even demeaning her for everything she is and does. To make matters worse, a prima donna rookie May joins the troupe with the highest scores and antagonizes Sora, fighting her tooth and nail to acquire the coveted position of top-star. Their rivalry is fierce, but Sora is always in a defensive position. The volume ends with the rookie winning a particular match for a role but only because Sora was at a disadvantage. Even so, Leon demonstrates that despite May's perfect performance, both are too dull to shine as brilliantly as he does. The difference in abilities between them and Leon are obviously and painfully too great. But because of this, their will to become his partner intensifies with firm resolve, leading to the next match in the next volume that determines who between them will emerge as his partner.
As someone whose heart Sora won entirely, I found these episodes to be really frustrating. At first, I couldn't tell where it was going by introducing the rookie May. But by the final episode of this volume, it had become clear to me as I reflected back on the first season. Then, Sora had ascended to her position overcoming one obstacle after another but doing so pretty much without competion. Only the hope of becoming Layla's partner inspired, guided and moved her. But with May, it will be interesting to see how Sora, without her guiding source of inspiration, deals with losing to someone who is driven to not only win against her and become the top star, but to do so by trampling on her.
It's too easy to dismiss May as a viable addition to the cast because she antagonizes Sora in such a negative fashion to the point of even belittling Sora that she merely becomes a nuisance. Her motivation as it is revealed is understandable. But that she takes things out on Sora with open hostility detracts from her value. I wouldn't say she's likable at all. However, the contrast between her and Sora is interesting. Both are highly capable performers. But while it appears that May is a bit more refined than Sora, Sora is closer to being on the right track and I love Sora for what she values in and about the stage, which is the joy of the audience. Both admire and idolize Layla, but whereas May is so proud so as to even proclaim herself as the second Layla Hamilton, Sora defers herself always to that lower position under Layla's shadow. Naturally, Sora becomes more sympathetic as a character. Leon is rather enigmatic. It's not clear right now what his intentions are, but when it comes to performing he is serious about receiving his glory and unforgiving of anything or anyone that is beneath him. This character's true value however lies in what he arouses in Sora. His assessment of Layla ignites a fiery indignation in Sora that we've never before seen. The camera focuses on Sora's changing expression as reflected in her eyes while Leon criticizes Layla for choosing someone as incapable as Sora to succeed the stage. Before Leon can finish, Sora bursts in anger and protest to defend Layla's honor. Frankly, the scene sent chills up my spine.
Gonzo remains consistent featuring well detailed action sequences and backgrounds. The character designs also continue to be gorgeous. May in particular is cute, but I suppose that I am way too enamoured by Sora to really appreciate the rookie. The music by Mina Kubota is also very pleasing. A new theme for this season is introduced and it is my favorite theme from her as of yet. An exhaustive pair of recap episodes help new viewers to get caught up so that they can pick up this title w/out getting into the first season. However, this is not recommended as the charm of the characters and their relationships, especially Sora's and Fool's, would not be gained and lost would be the fine and important nuances and dynamics of the situation that we find our characters in as the second season opens. Viewers who have kept up with and watched the entire first season are fortunate to have with this volume at least three real new episodes. This one is definitely a must have for Kaleido Star fans. And for those who have not yet watched the first season, ADV's thin pack collection is a bargain for a truly remarkable anime series that has become my all-time favorite."
Maryssa | USA | 02/05/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I had to review this...for fans of the series, much of the DVD is a recap of events from the first series, as told by the Fool. After that, it takes up where layla leaves -finally! - but the new male lead is worse than layla ever was! It looks like he'll be performing alone or not at all...just as Sora -the star who wins you over from the very start of the first series - starts to settle in as the lead. Not long after that comes another obstacle - yet another girl who wants to ruin Sora, doesn't play fair, and is an instant rival. Rosetta returns to become a trapeze artist, new trapeze tricks, and ...ice skating in the next volume?! If you haven't seen the first season, the Fool's catchup offers a shallow version, I'd go back and see it all, but you could start here. Not that I'd recommend it - all the characters are who they are because of the struggles they went through...