Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Paradise Kiss 2011 review


Today, I'm gonna talk about a movie that came out earlier this year that I was really excited about. Paradise Kiss is based on the manga by Yazawa Ai (Gokinjo Monogatari, NANA, Tenshi Nanka Ja Nai etc.), which also happens to be one of my two absolute favouritestestest mangas of all time (the other is Gokinjo Monogatari, of which ParaKiss is a spinoff).

It's very rare for me to have absolute favourites because I tend to like so many things, and try so many new things, that I end up having a list of like minimum 15 favourites of anything. That's why me have only 2 favourite mangas is really unusual and says something about how much I love this series.

I'd like to make a disclaimer. I generally hate live-action adaptations of  mangas, especially if I like the manga, because there are physical limitations to how they can recreate the character's appearance in real life. This applies to ParaKiss as well, because 3D humans do no justice to Yazawa Ai's godly character designs. With that, I'll start my commentary with the aesthetics.

Here's what I love and was expecting (including the rainbow of hair colours too- it was this series and its predecessor Gokinjo that made me want pink hair).

But this is what I got instead. They're all gorgeous too, but they don't fulfill my 2D fantasy. Why is George a brunette? What happened to his cerulean locks and pupils??? What about my angelic pinkhead? If not pink at least blonde, but no- she has brown hair!!! And Arashi is far from platinum too, not to mention Isabella's apparent lack of periwinkleness.

Kitagawa Keiko is beautiful and all, but she. is. not. a. Yukari. I actually thought that Oomasa Aya, who played Miwako, would have suited that role more than the cute-overload Miwa.

THIS (Oomasa Aya) feels more Yukari than Keiko did. Perhaps because all the characters I've seen her play (her "Ma-ma-ma-ma-MABUSHIIIIIIII~~!!!!" [Yamanade] burns in my memory) have been totally un-cute (I mean, a horror-obsessed recluse and a delinquent girl just...), but I don't think she was suited to be Miwako at all. Granted, she acted fairly well but her image just doesn't suit Miwa.

If I were to match Miwa to a 3D human, it'd probably be one of the super-Gyarus from Popteen like Masuwaka Tsubasa. Just a thought.

I think character-wise, the 3D that had the closest feel to the 2D was Isabella, although he wasn't pretty (or purple) enough. In the manga, you couldn't really tell it was a guy (but then again, it's a cartoon), but here it's pretty darn obvious.

Another character discrepancy in Tokumori. I like Yamamoto Yusuke, but I feel that he always ends up playing characters that he doesn't suit, like Kayashima (Hanakimi) and Tamaki (Ouran). Nonetheless, he did quite a good job (of course) in pulling it off despite the different aura.

Lastly, the almighty Johji-sama. I love Mukai Osamu, but I've also seen him in many other different roles (kinder, cuter, easy-goinger roles) and in general his build and aura doesn't seem Georgey. His portrayal of George here also left much to be desired (although I don't think it's his acting, but rather the scriptwriting), but I'll talk about that later.

There are a lot of characters I'm unsatisfied with too (Kaori, George's parents, Seiji...) and some I'm neutral about (Arashi, Yukari's mom...), but if I were to go through all, this post would never end. So let's go on to the characters' characters themselves (haha).

I felt that the scriptwriting for the movie did no justice to Yazawa-sama's deep characters at all. In fact, it made some of the characters appear shallow and dislikeable. As mentioned before, I think 3D Isabella was most true to the manga/anime, and I think it probably stops there.

First and foremost: the main pair. 3D Yukari here was actually surprisingly kinda close to 2D Yukari now that I think about it. Still, they wrote her to be a little too confident and arrogant. 2D Yukari was a lot more emotional and insecure, which made her seem more real and relatable-to. I think 3D bounced back from criticism too coolly, whereas 2D would have broken down. On the other hand. 3D George was way too aggressive. 2D never got heated up and was perpetually calm, even when angry. IMO, 2D felt more mature than 3D, who displayed rage many times.

Next, Arashi and Miwako. I'll say that Arashi is probably second, behind Isabella, in being most true to 2D (although I'm sore that he's not blonde and doesn't have safety pins in his face). He had the immaturity, jealousy, and the tsundere. As for Miwako, I think Oomasa Aya did try hard to do the whole bimbotic, naive, cute girl, but it was too unnatural. Appearance does play a big part here, because Oomasa Aya has the same build as Kitagawa Keiko, whereas 2D Miwako was tiny which enhanced cuteness. I think the scriptwriters didn't develop Miwako's regret toward Tokumori enough too.

I'll just touch a little on a few side characters before moving on to the next section. 3D Kaori was way too girly, flirty and easy-going, and much less likeable. I didn't like 2D Kaori either because she made Yukari hurt from jealousy (I'm a Yukarite), but I still think the more serious, driven 2D tomboy was much more likeable. Another side would be Yukari's mom, who was too meek, seeing as the 2D was very headstrong and no-nonsense.

Moving on, I'll come to the storyline differences. I know that this is only a movie and not a full-on drama, so there isn't much time, but I do think the live-action compromised wayyy too much of the original storyline to fit it. As a result of this, basically everything was left undeveloped and a person who hasn't read the manga would probably feel that the movie had no depth.

Some things the movie is missing: Yukari's modeling career, Hamada-sensei, ROMANCE. The movie had almost zero romance. This is a hideous crime because while ParaKiss is centered around fashion and maturing, IT'S ALL ABOUT THE ROMANCE BETWEEN YUKARI AND GEORGE.

The way Yukari matures is through her relationship with George (besides running away from home and finding her dream, and the movie didn't even touch on the latter), and there was basically no relationship here. 3D Yukari lived in George's place (2D lived in Arashi's) with him, YET NOTHING HAPPENED. There was no development to their love. They only finally kissed at the end of the fashion show, and it was kinda abrupt because there was no build-up to it!!! Thus, 3D gets a massive fail for the love factor.

Another thing that displeased me was the lack of focus on the dress. Yazawa Ai studied fashion, so her mangas pay a lot of detail to the fashion, and they didn't even show the dress until the show, and 3D Yukari didn't help ParaKiss with the beadwork etc. The dress looked completely different too. Roar.

There were also many altered details, like when Yukari actually went back home, or the whole is-George-gonna-design-or-get-a-job issue, but the biggest difference from the manga was THE ENDING.

To be honest, I wasn't satisfied with the manga ending. I like Tokumori too, and I feel bad that he got rejected in the 3D, but ultimately, I ship YukariGeorge. I bawled so hard at the end of the manga because it was so painful yet realistic that they didn't end up together. Even so, despite the 3D making my dream come true, it just felt rushed, underdeveloped and... wrong. Because in the 3D, they focused on and developed YukariTokumori a lot more (and better) than they did YukariGeorge, so it just felt wrong for them to end up together.

I feel that as a whole, the 3D lacked depth and emotion. I've read ParaKiss over 20 times (I swear), and every time the emotions are as intense as the first time, and I cry like every chapter. Yet, the movie didn't move me at all. It was totally flat and underdeveloped (I'm getting sick of using this word). Even the scene where she sees that George gave her all his dresses (which was hands-down the biggest 2D tearjerker) didn't awake anything in me because everything prior to that just didn't build up to it. Even the dramatic reunion felt blah.

Oh well. I don't know if I managed to put it all into words as well as I am feeling all of this, but I tried. Even though I disparaged the 3D in this mega-long entry, I wouldn't go as far as to say I hated it. I can't really hate something (loosely) based off my absolute favourite story of all time, after all. However, if I hadn't been a fan of the original, I probably would have hated it. On another level, if I didn't even know the original story, I probably wouldn't be half as dissatisfied as I am now, but I would definitely feel that it was kinda shallow because someone with no background knowledge would just get confused due to lack of development and depth.

If you want a generic rating, I'd give ParaKiss 3D a 2.4/5 (because I wouldn't pass it, but it's not a bad bad fail due to my biasedness and also the effort of the actresses/actors).

So here's the end of possibly the longest entry in [kyo~ mo] thus far. What did YOU think of the movie? Especially if you read the manga?

Also, I know this post was supposed to be about my online haul, but I still haven't received a few more packages, so I'm waiting for them. They BETTER come tomorrow or I'll set fire to SingPost (after retrieving my packages manually).


  1. Just watched the 3D Paradise Kiss and was pretty disappointed. I agree with everything said here. They really should have tried a lot harder to make the actors look like the 2D characters.

    1. Yeah, pink/purple/blue hair is commonstream in Tokyo, especially Harajuku etc., so it's not like it would have looked unnatural or odd.