As a talented young acrobat, Sora has dreamed of sharing a stage with the performers of Kaleido Stage, a world renowned circus that combines graceful acrobatics, dazzling costumes, and stunts that keep audiences on the edge of their seats. She makes the move from Japan to California to audition for the show, in hopes of one day basking in the glitz and glamour.
However, finding her place in such a competitive world will not be easy. Sora will shed blood, sweat, and tears on her path to becoming a performer, buoyed by the friends she makes along the way. Of course, there will also be rivals and other individuals who do not believe Sora has what it takes to shine as brightly as Kaleido Stage needs her to.
Sora will need to endure these trials and tribulations in her quest to become a star, earning the respect of both those who doubt her abilities and by those who are threatened by her. Watch as Sora flies through the bright lights in Kaleido Star!
Kaleido Star premiered Thursday April 3, 2003 at 5:25 PM on TV Tokyo. Starting with episode 27, the show moved to a morning timeslot of Saturdays at 9:30 AM, and added the subtitle "New Wings" to the title.
"Special Thanks Dio" in the end credits refers to Dio Kobayashi, a Japanese circus performer who traveled all over the world. He was invited to the project by its director Satou Junichi and became a special adviser for the show. The character Dio is based on him.
Kaleido Star was a big surprise for me as I expected it to be a typical shoujo with probably many cheesy moments...
I was proven wrong..
Overall, it was beautiful, bright colours and flowing movements that even appeared graceful, a very colorful setting that didn\'t appear too flashy....it totally captured the brilliance of a circus and the lovely performances that I just had to rewatch again. However it had its flaws, I noticed that several episodes had seemingly worse animation compared to the rest in which the characters looked distorted, thankfully this was hardly significant during the performances which kept their high standard throughout the whole
The opening and ending themes were ok and catchy enough but what i really loved was the background music, some tracks were sometimes quite repetitive but it totally created the magical feel for this anime and enhanced it a lot more (even though you may not realise it). So do turn up the volume whenever you watch any of their performances as \'swan lake\', \'little mermaid\' etc. would not be so astoundingly beautiful without the music
Kaleido Star can be divided into 2 parts, 1st being Sora\'s introduction to the circus and striving to be in par with Layla Hamilton. Whereas the second part introduces 2 new character, Leon and May in which might be a turn-off for most viewers due to Sora suffering the most, but of course this is only to build the wonderful finale.
The overall concept may not seem special as it is only about a girl striving to achieve her dream and encountering many hardships. But the idea about a circus and acrobats is very unique, I don\'t think there are many animes out there that have attempted this genre and managed to keep it so interesting and magical. Whats good is the emphasis on friendship, Sora gets through a lot mostly due to the help of the people around her, it is not a one-girl show, all the rest are equally important characters and do shine as well.
Even though this is a shoujo anime, romance is only hinted but barely there, truly not the highlight of the show
As mentioned above, all the characters are great, in fact it is impossible to hate either of them since even the bad ones turn good at the end. Although this seems rather idealistic, it leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling at the end
Overall this was a great ride, Satou Junichi\'s other creation, Princess tutu had left me in a bit of a trance when it ended, apparantly this had the same effect. It is hard to describe the truly magical effect this has, you have to watch it to know, and you won\'t regret it
You have a dream don't you? Of course you do. Everyone has one. A dream to do something that no one else has ever done, or maybe someone else has done it and you want nothing more than to follow in their footsteps. It could have started when you were a child, maybe even recently, but no matter what, your heart doesn't let it rest. It's something you want more than anything, even more than you think you want it.
Kaleido Star is the story of our dreams. How they all start from tiny things. Memories from days gone by that we think are insignificant,
but at the same time, have really touched us and inspired us to become who we are today. Our dreams are not easy though. There will always be detours and obstacles in our way, and no dream can be reached without putting our own inner selves to the ultimate test, but if we can overcome these obstacles, befriend our enemies, and see the good in everyone's dreams that they aspire for as well, then your dream can come true.
Despite the formulaic way Kaleido Star goes about fulfilling the dreams of the characters, it works splendidly because of how sincere each and every character is about wanting their special dream to come true, and how the series treats the sincerity of each character with a great deal of respect to the point that the formulaic contrivances such as the cliched "special training" and running away only to come back having "found yourself" feel like genuine happenings.
Likewise, this series as it is couldn't be anything without its characters. The main focal point of the series is seeing the growth and struggle of all the members of Kaleido Stage from the primadonna to the lowly stagehands, and oh how they grow, and oh how they struggle. I credit this series immensely with how it puts each and every character through their own personal wringer, good guys and "bad guys" alike. It never lets them take the easy way out. Each and every accomplishment any character achieves is 100% earned. There are no gimmes.
And oh the accomplishments! I can't go into detail because of spoilers but this is where the technical aspects really shine! For as much as people seem to tease GONZO for being GONZO, this is arguably their opus. A setting such as Kaleido Stage requires dazzling animation to fully bring out the Cirque du Soleil atmosphere of the stage, and the animation astounds every time, especially the climaxes of both halves of the series. They are so gorgeous, that don't be surprised if you forget to breathe for a moment.
The soundtrack is also quite lovely with lots of wonderful performances, especially Ryou Hirohashi as Sora, who brings the same radiance and energy that Sora herself embodies.
With outstandingly gorgeous animation, heartwarming performances, characters that make you believe that everyone in this world, no matter how heartless or cruel they may be, are all good people inside, and a story that invokes you to believe your dreams, no matter how great or small, can all come true. Kaleido Star is one of the best anime I have ever seen. Heartwarming, heartbreaking, and inspiring to all. This is the stuff true dreams are made of.
Overall, I happily give Kaleido Star a 10 out of 10.
A certain expectation arises for an anime series such as this, which takes the effort to build a unique premise and story. Without the telltale signs of pervasive cliché, like a harem or giant piloted robot, I had good hopes for Kaleido Star. The show wasn’t even approaching flawless or astonishing on any technical level, or even in the way its story was written and reared, but what I found is that it had an intoxicating charm and that it was far more vibrant and ‘energetic’ than most anime. When I say energetic, I don’t mean just a cast of genki characters relentlessly talking quickly,
and running around, I mean it had a certain sparkle in its eye, or a skip in its step that elevated it above its content, and even its technical quality of production. Something intangible was born from the sum of its parts, its voice acting, colourful animation, charismatic score music, and its amalgamation of so many fascinating characters and relationships. Even when I was shaking my head in the second season at how incoherent and silly the story had become, I was simultaneously glued to the screen, and enthralled by the climactic stage performances. Even though I’ve never considered myself a fan of anything to do with the stage or of shows that rely mostly on drama to hook their audience, I thoroughly enjoyed this series, both in the sense that it was fun, laidback entertainment, and in that it was occasionally emotionally stirring.
The most prominent feature of Kaleido Star is undoubtedly its characterisation, and as such, each character is given a strong dream or ambition that they strive towards over the course of the show, as well as a heavily fleshed-out personality. Almost every character is likeable and easy to become attached to. If you find that you’re a sucker for getting behind your favourite characters and empathising with their hardships, then Kaleido Star is a good bet. By the end of the show, the real emotional impact lies not in the conclusion to the plot, but in the final send-off for a great cast of characters you’ve come to know and love. Relationships are dealt with, but almost always in the form of friendships, rivalries and companionships. Rarely does Kaleido Star tread in the thorny realm of romance, and when it does it’s usually just for a cheap gag. Don’t be deterred though, the friendships that are grown over the course of the series have more weight to them than most romantic relationships in anime. I’m not sure if the characters interactions are massively realistic, but they are believable and earnest enough to work. Really though, the rest of the series is in orbit around Sora Naegino, the heart and star of the series. Fortunately, she is really a great protagonist, particularly in the first season. She is portrayed very much as being a real person, with holes poked into her resolve to achieve her dreams, and struggles that she must overcome, not with superhero talent, but with hard work and perseverance. I must admit to being in admiration of her from time to time. Most importantly, through all the harsh training she endures, you end up really wanting to see her succeed, which really makes the stage performance scenes what they are.
The animation used in the stage show scenes themselves is certainly quite good. Although the level of detail in the cel animation is overall surprisingly low, the stage scenes are carried by a high degree of fluidity in the animation and strong use of artistic direction, such as the use of colour and dramatic camera angles. The music definitely helped to create the sense of tension and beauty required. I do think they could have been done better, and rendered in more lavish detail befitting the scope of the shows, but for a 51-episode tv series it’s production is definitely solid. Unfortunately, off-stage doesn’t allow for the same graceful movement to overcome the simple visual style. The background art lacks personality and detail. The character designs range from completely bland and uninteresting to memorable. Sora and Rosetta, fit into the latter category, while most of the other character designs leave little impression. The music had a very strong presence in the series, and it was definitely good quality, with rousing instrumentals and melancholic strings tugging at the heart when required. However, it was far too repetitive; far more music is required for a series of this length to stop the tracks from overstaying their welcome. The OPs and EDs were relatively good. I watched the first and second OPs every episode, but was appalled by the 3rd.
The plot, looked at in isolation, is very weak indeed, marred by inconsistency and incongruence, especially in the way the plot for season 1 is wholly confused by that of season 2. The way terms like “true Kaleido Star” were thrown about really annoyed me, in much the same way as the over-use of the Angel/Demon analogy in season 2. It all felt so contrived and silly, as though it was an attempt to give the stage some sort of misplaced mythology that ended up just being a distraction from the performances themselves. Furthermore, Leon Oswald’s backstory, and his frequent visions of Sophie grated my patience, because they were a symptom of the overall problem with the second half of the story, which is immature and simplistic plot development. Everything was given parallel and faux meaning with such forceful blatancy that it became a nagging irritation. However, unlike most series, the plot is not the backbone of the show, and with its strong characterisation and emotional themes, it can stand on its feet without the need for a concrete story to support it.
Kaleido Star is no great achievement as an anime series from a technical or cynical perspective. If you watch past the first season, the plot becomes haphazardly thrown together and nauseatingly unsophisticated. However, for its colour, vitality and charm, Kaleido Star proves to be a worthy entertainer/ Perhaps ones could look at the series for advice about why it is so enjoyable - like Sora’s stage play, it is unpretentious fun, and manages to keep itself at an arms length away from derivative clichés. And more than just light-hearted fluff, it has the potential to wet the eyes of all its viewers through Sora’s trials and mesmerising triumphs.
Kaleido Star’s acrobatic performances are pure exhilaration as the characters spin and fly through the air with special effects that are often a little too real and stakes a little too high. The most significant parts of these productions are often kept hidden from the viewer until performance day, with the only hints of their content given through maneuvers that the performers must master in practice, which makes for some very exciting buildup. The characters often have yet to perform a stunt perfectly multiple times or even once before performance day, and while it stretches belief that they would even be permitted on stage at
that level of production, it drives the suspense to even greater heights, especially when said stunts have yet to be completed perfectly by a majority of the most skilled and famous of stars. In contrast to this slightly fantastical approach that adds a necessary, additional boost of excitement, you can almost feel the characters’ muscles strain as they mercilessly train their bodies to do what they want them to do. The weight of the performers’ bodies and the muscle power it takes to perform their maneuvers is evident in their every move and Kaleido Star never takes on a cartoony look with noodle limbs or overly-nimble movement. That being said, the series does sometimes break free from realism in its stunts, with such elements as faith producing maneuvers that would otherwise be impossible. However, these elements are always firmly coupled with a copious amount of hard work, effort, and natural talent, and they never take on an overly cheesy, “You can do it if you believe,” quality.
Similarly, it is often said throughout the show that there is something special about its heroine, but this element is portrayed as her willingness to take risks, her determination to accomplish her goals even with great physical strain, and her joy in and love of the stage rather than some supernatural ability. Sora works just as hard (and sometimes harder) than any of the others, and this coupled with her natural talent and incredibly good spirits is what drives her to the top. That said, her ascent is rather too speedy, with several coincidences leading to lucky breaks, and the opportunity for a leading role offered altogether too soon after her introduction to the stage. That Sora would be able to excel at this pace and be able to perform maneuvers even most tried professionals cannot attempt is hard to believe.
Even so, Sora is a joy to watch with her contagious energy as she pursues her dream despite the obstacles and as she strives to understand and befriend those around her, even her rivals. Sora’s willingness to forgive and her determination to earn respect unclouded by selfish ambition are refreshing to watch, and while such people are surely rare, they are not nonexistent. Despite her determination, Sora does suffer normal discouragement and the temptation to give up, especially when despite her efforts she still struggles and wonders if she is a hindrance to her co-stars. In addition, the rapidity of her rise to stardom in the first season is offset by the immediate, almost insurmountable obstacles she faces in the second half of the series. The reluctance of some members of Kaleido Stage to give her opportunities and the refusal of some to work with her is incredibly frustrating, especially since her many triumphs in the previous season should have earned her enough respect to surpass such prejudice. But this overly harsh attitude is owed to the backstories and experiences of those who oppose her. Every major character in Kaleido Star has their own goals and motivations, and it is their encounters with Sora that force them to confront their own fears and failures, whether they view her as a rival to be defeated, a nuisance, or a potential match for their own abilities and a possible partner. There are some minor characters that at first seem to act as one-dimensional tools for ridicule or encouragement, but even these undergo their own development as a result of Sora’s arrival.
The greatest treasure of this series is the relationship between Sora and the current star of Kaleido Stage, Layla Hamilton. Layla is at first extremely skeptical and dismissive of Sora’s efforts, but she is not the kind to withhold respect where it is due. It is a wonderful thing to witness Layla slowly and stubbornly allow Sora to change and influence her own attitude toward Kaleido Stage, herself, and others. For various reasons, many explained in the following 50-minute OVA “Legend of the Phoenix,” Layla is as harsh and cold to herself as to others, relying on no one to make her dreams come true for her and only letting go of any with great reluctance. Sora’s idealism and optimistic approach as well as her reckless effort in all that she does puts her at contrast to the calm, realistic, and even calculating Layla who has pursued her goals with just as much rigor and passion but with little self-indulgence. As she works with Sora, she begins to see a potential partner to equal or even surpass her talents, a hope for the future of Kaleido Stage, and even a friend to rely upon. At the same time, it is Layla who provides the main inspiration for Sora’s efforts to accomplish her dream and never ceases to instruct her as a mentor in the ways of the stage. Perfectly matched, they continue to inspire and learn from each other throughout the whole series.
In the early-mid 2000s, US licensing companies were involved in numerous anime Production Committees. It didn't go so well for them. This year, several US licensors are trying their luck on Production Committees again. Will it go better this time?