New Kimagure Orange Road: Summer's Beginning
Madoka, Kyousuke, and Hikaru had always been together during high school, nearly inseparable. Madoka and Hikaru had been best friends for a long time, and both were in love with psychic Kyousuke, making for a tightly wound, uneasy triangle that was just sure to end up hurting someone. And sure enough, it did on that fateful day when Kyousuke, resolutely made a choice between the two of them. The other was hurt severely, leaving town altogether to escape the painful situation.
A year later, Kyousuke becomes involved in a car accident, sending his body into coma and his spirit hurtling three years into the future. His only hope to return back to his proper time period is to find his future self and combine their psychic abilities. Unfortunately, his future self has also disappeared while on a dangerous photojournalism assignment in Bosnia! And even three years later, the other one that Kyousuke didn't choose still harbors strong feelings for him ... will Kyousuke undo all he has worked for before it even happens?
Kimagure Orange Road will always reign as the quintessential example of romantic triangle. Countless other anime have also incoporated this theme into its story, but none with the same level of pathos and sympathy that KOR achieved. For years, fans agonized along with Kyousuke as he struggled to make that fearful decision of who to choose (although personally, I thought it was pretty obvious). And finally, in a groundbreaking movie, he made his choice, nicely ending this entertaining series.
The problem with New KOR, then, is that it tries to breathe life back into a series that had already concluded satisfactorily. What's KOR without the romantic triangle? One might well ask what Macross would be without Valkyries, or Gunsmith Cats without the guns (or cats, for that matter). The answer, of course, is "not much" and that's what New KOR ends up being: a convoluted, tedious trudge though ground that had already been well covered years before.
The most striking thing about New KOR is the art style, which is a departure from the style KOR fans have come to grow accustomed to and love. It isn't necessarily better or worse, but it's certainly different, which will no doubt cause some alarm in hard-core KOR fans (say that last phrase five times fast). The story, which brings into play Kyousuke's ESP abilities, is a nice hearkening back to the early days of KOR (the last seasons of the original KOR all but forgot about his psychic powers). However, it's not enough to keep the audience interested, especially with its numerous logical holes and the head-scratchingest climax and resolution I've ever seen.
New KOR's biggest flaw is that it doesn't go into the areas that made KOR so interesting: the romantic (and decidedly sexual) tension that bound the once-triangle together. Things that would have made the story so much more interesting just don't happen, and the three friends seem determined to avoid conflict at all costs. They seem to forget that it was conflict that made the series so great in the first place. What results is tedium and rehash of what we already knew to begin with.
Long-time fans of KOR probably wouldn't like this new (and hopefully final) chapter to the series, and newbies probably won't find enough to interest them. New KOR ends up coming across as a mediocre attempt to (if you'll pardon the mixed metaphor) cash in on a dead horse. But if you must watch this, avoid the dub at all costs (aren't there any American voice actresses at ADV who sound like normal human beings?).
Recommended Audience: The tone of New KOR is decidedly more adult in nature than its younger predecessor; one might think for a second he or she had accidentally rented End of Summer instead of Summer's Beginning. Sex seems to be a major obsession of the main characters, although nothing is actually explicitly shown. Parents should be well-warned about this movie's glorification of teenage sex (but then again, most TV shows these days seem to do that anyway) ...
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, English dub
Review Status: Full (1/1)
New Kimagure Orange Road: Summer's Beginning © 1996 Izumi Matsumoto / Kenji Terada / Shueisha / Toho / NTV / VAP / Studio Pierrot
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