Wrapping up the 3-part Yazawa review set, we have Paradise Kiss, an international super-hit set later in the same universe as its predecessors, Gokinjo Monogatari and Tenshi Nanka Ja Nai. Spanning 5 volumes, 12 episodes and a very recent Live-Action movie, ParaKiss continues with the same themes that Gokinjo started, of teenage drama, fashion, and personal growth. However, whereas Gokinjo was suitable for audiences 12-15+, ParaKiss was aimed at an older audience.
|With scenes like this you really can't show it to anyone under 16.|
ParaKiss starts by following an average brainy girl named Yukari as she walks down a street on a normal day. The story kicks off after she is chased down by a bleach-blonde guy in punk clothing and a mysterious woman. Though at first apprehensive and scared, she eventually follows them to their studio and enters a world of glamour and glitter, fashion and fame. Swept up in the moment, Yukari (nicknamed Caroline by her new friends) struggles to cope with the changes in her life as she blossoms into her own person.
|This series tends to lay on the teen drama with a trowel.|
Returning to the more realistic style of Tenshi, ParaKiss's more serious tone marks the artwork as well. If anything, it's more realistic than Tenshi, and indeed it reflected a style shift as Yazawa's next work afterward, Nana, would be even more realistically styled than that. Given the older audience, the outfits and colour pallet are darker and more sophisticated, to keep with the changing tastes of the time. This may have had an impact with the lasting popularity, as more people could relate to the Chanel and Prada-esque outfits.
|A lot of the clothes in this series are just to die for.|
Also changing with the times was the music, being more rock and dance tracks than the quintessential 90's teen drama tunes. The series employed major artists The Babys, Tommy February6 (now known as Tommy Heavenly6), and Franz Ferdinand for the soundtrack, as well as having plenty of instrumentals. Everything about it screams new and chic, even in this day and age.
|Not sure if they realized the drug references they put in, or if they did it on purpose.|
However, even after all that i was left feeling slightly underwhelmed. Perhaps it has more to do with loyalty to Gokinjo, but i think it had to do more with the hype. However, this is purely from a character development standpoint, and i still remain enthused with the idea of finally fulfilling a childhood dream of reading, watching, and owning the series. It remains a classic, if not the best of classics.
|Though she's aged a bit, Mikako hasn't changed at all.|
ParaKiss is available from SaintDeath, THORA, Anime Corp-X, niizk, AnimeUnderground (Spanish), and Nautilus BT (Italian; Website Defunct). It was also licensed for sale in Australia by Madman Entertainment and North America by Geneon.
|If you pay attention, you'll find plenty of cameos.|