ADV Films // 2004 // 125 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Sandra Dozier (Retired) // January 13th, 2005
The world is our stage!
In this concluding volume in the Kaleido Star series, it's time for Sora to perform the "Legendary Great Maneuver" that The Fool promised to reveal to her. At the conclusion of the last volume, Layla was able to see The Fool after proclaiming that she wanted to continue to perform and had the best partner she could have in Sora. Of course this means Layla and Sora will perform the Legendary Great Maneuver together. Yuri, however, wants to turn this to his advantage, announcing that they will do it on the Kaleidostage. After declining sales and under the threat of going under, Yuri is feeling backed against a wall and seems desperate enough to do almost anything.
As he has made the tickets nonrefundable, Layla and Sora agree to go ahead with it, not wanting to disappoint the patrons. The Fool won't reveal the maneuver until he knows they are ready, but Kolos comes back to train them, since he knows what the maneuver involves. Yuri thinks Kolos is responsible for his father's death and cannot forgive him, but Kolos is keeping his own counsel. Once again, Sora's friends gather around her to support her and, by extension, Layla. Sora's training gets off to a rocky start, but Ken takes a special interest in helping her, and she soon recovers. When Layla injures her arm, however, all might be lost unless the two can get up to speed and learn the secret of the maneuver from The Fool.
Sora Naegino is a survivor, and part of her appeal is that she works hard and she doesn't give up. Even when Kaleidostar is bought out and she can no longer perform, she doesn't see this as abject failure. She is disappointed, but she moves on and tries to find new opportunities. Her friends are her source of strength, from the gruff but kind Mr. Policeman (her first friend after arriving in Los Angeles) to sweet-natured Ken, the former stage manager of Kaleido Star, who fell in love with Sora when she first arrived for auditions.
While there are some interesting circus trapeze performances in Kaleidostar, the story focuses mostly on the conflicts and struggles Sora and her friends go through in order to realize their dreams. Through conflict comes character growth, and while Sora's unbroken optimism may seem a little manic sometimes, it's also hard not to envy her determination and spirit. In the end, the Legendary Great Maneuver is another metaphor for life -- never stop reaching for what you want, and have no fear that you will achieve your goals.
This is definitely a high-energy series, with clear lines between good and evil characters. You won't find a lot of depth in the story, but you will find likable characters, humor (mostly involving The Fool, who has a perfect voice characterization in the English dub that is half the reason he is funny), and lots of fun. Kaleido Star has a good message and is fun to watch.
Kaleido Star has beautiful animation, with stage performances given heavy drama and light effects that look great onscreen. Accordingly, the show has a good-looking transfer that gives us a good depth of color and a clear print. Sound quality is also high, with a clear, robust transfer and good use of all channels for ambient noise. This is especially apparent in scenes with rain and background crowd noises. The English dub also makes use of different channels for off-screen characters. There's a standard set of extras, plus the palm-sized "standee" insert that has been a regular in all the Kaleido Star releases. This time it's for Marion and Jonathan, the seal. This set also features a poster of Sora in her Legendary Great Maneuver outfit.
Cynthia Martinez (Sora) and Sandra Krasa, ADV producer and voice for Layla, do a commentary for episode 25, "An Amazing Bond." Martinez, who is showing some range with the character of Sora (vocally, that is -- Sora is almost as high-energy as Cynthia seems to be in real life), lets loose a little bit with Krasa and has some fun, but doesn't get too off-track. This isn't as info-packed as some of the other commentaries I've heard, but the two give some insight into their characters and the production, and it's fun to hear them together -- it's clear their off-screen chemistry influenced their on-screen character performances.
I enjoy watching Kaleido Star -- it's a good series for a rainy day when you need a little energy and goodwill to perk you up. With some great vocal performances, bright colors, and a lecherous living doll, it's hard to keep from smiling just a little.
Review content copyright © 2005 Sandra Dozier; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Japanese)
* English (signs only)
Running Time: 125 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Character Standee Insert
* Production Sketches
* Character Bios
* Poster Insert
* Audio Commentary by Voice Actors Cynthia Martinez and Sandra Krasa
* Official Site