Paradise Kiss Vol. 1
On the more static side of the art, some production designer decided that Barbara Walters interviews were cool, so everything looks slightly out of focus and dreamy, as though the cels were shot with a softening filter. The urban environments are also appropriately cluttered by logos, billboards, and fashion plates.

Which leads to my nagging concern with Paradise Kiss's premise: the fashion-model-as-princess fable. As I complained earlier, Yukari's life outside of The Studio is barely explored. No parents appear on-screen, and the occasional teacher is shown only to set up brief scenes where Yukari's mind wanders. As far as the story is concerned, Yukari doesn't exist outside of Paradise Kiss, and her role among these fashionistas is very limited. The Paradise Kiss crew does all of the hard work (sewing and designing) and all Yukari has to do is look pretty and not gain too much weight. I can understand her being fascinated by all the attention she gets, but why would she aspire to be a mannequin? The first four episodes don't touch on this, and subsequent episodes will be dragged down by the weightlessness of this premise.

I also could have done without each episode's "bookends." The prologues feature pithy narration accompanied by weird characters and props with seemingly nothing to do with the show. The epilogues feature purple narration that unfortunately replaces much-needed character development in episodes 3 and 4.

The preview DVD provided by Geneon featured only the English dub and none of the promised extras. (It also featured an anamorphic widescreen format that didn't include a letterbox for viewing on normal televisions. Hopefully that will be cleared up in the final release, lest consumers be forced to watch superskinny fashionistas.) The performances and ADR direction are largely underwhelming, but nothing too damaging is present. Animation fans unafraid to sample quotidian Japanese fare should find Paradise Kiss to be mildly intriguing, but don't give up after the sluggish pace of the first two episodes. Once the story hits its stride, you may find yourself at the mercy of its whims.

DVD Features: 16:9 aspect ratio; English and Japanese audio tracks; English subtitles; Region 1.

DVD Extras: Photo shoot with voice actor Yu Yamada; press conference; Japanese TV commercials; character concept art.
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