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ANIME REVIEWS

© 1996 Matsumoto Izumi, Terada Kenji/Shueisha, Toho, NTV, VAP and Studio Pierrot
English Version Copyright © 1998 Toho International Co., Ltd.
Released in North America by A.D.V. Films
English Subtitled
VHSOR/001S $29.95
English Dubbed
VHSOR/001D $24.95
100 min






—by Charles McCarter

What happens when an anime series turns ten years old? Sometimes nothing, but in the case of KIMAGURE ORANGE ROAD, like so many others, they made a movie. After the first ORANGE ROAD movie, however, I wasn't sure this was such a good idea. After all, the first movie really did "end" the original series and resolve the Hikaru-Madoka-Kyousuke love triangle. What more could they do?
  Well, series creator Matsumoto Izumi and screenplay writer Terada Kenji delivered a story based on the Orange Road novel they collaborated on several years ago. The basic plot revolves around Kyousuke getting into an accident and being shunted three years into the future. This, of course, displaces his current self in that timeline. He has to figure out how to get back to his time, if possible. But along the way, he meets some familiar faces. (For a more complete plot explanation, see our review in EX 2.4.
  Character designs, done by Gotoh Takayuki, do a nice job of reflecting the aging of the characters since the TV series, although hard-core fans will complain that they are not done by Takada Akemi. Probably the most dramatic change is in Hikaru, who has grown up (and grown her hair out as well). And this "grown-up" appearance is not superficial or merely cosmetic. As the story progresses, the viewer is left with the feeling that of all three principal characters, she is the one who has grown most as a person, despite her own feelings of immaturity. She certainly is head-and-shoulders above either Kyousuke (the 19-year-old or the 22-year-old).
  Kyousuke spends a lot of time in the movie acting much as he did in the television series—embarassed and confused, though I can only imagine that would be how I would behave were I suddenly thrust three years into my own future. Madoka is pretty much the same—quiet and brooding, mostly over the missing Kyousuke.
  The movie contains liberal sprinklings of flashbacks and references to both the television series (including the 99.5 steps and ABCB) and the final movie (Hikaru's show), which seriously increases the nostalgia dosage for those who have seen and love the television series.
  Where the movie excels is in the exploration of the growth of the characters as they've aged. Hikaru is still the same bright, bubbly person that she was in high school, but she's also more mature and self-reliant. She doesn't depend on anyone any more than she has to. And she's also taken some of the boldest steps with her life, such as moving to New York to work in a dance company. Madoka is now a musician and composer who seems to be moderately successful and happy with her work. She doesn't seem to be very different from her earlier self, although it is obvious in several scenes that she still thinks of her old best friend very often. Kyousuke is a student photojournalist who is in Bosnia covering the fighting when he disappears. And, although the 22-year-old Kyousuke's part is brief, in him we see a glimpse of what he could eventually become—confident and self-assured about both his professional life and his relationship with Madoka.
  This is a worthy movie, much better than I ever expected it to be. However, its greatest strength requires a previous knowledge and interest in all of the characters. The viewer has to understand how and why the pieces fell apart to appreciate them being put back together. One who hasn't seen ORANGE ROAD before is not going to get the full effect of seeing some of their favorite characters grow up.


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