Jan 11, 2021
Kimagure Orange Road is a high school romantic comedy manga with supernatural elements, authored by Matsumoto Izumi. Published in the famous Weekly Shonen Jump from 1984 till 1987, it had a run of 156 chapters (one chapter being a special story about the mangaka, appears in the 15th volume) collected into 18 Volumes. Adapted to TV anime, OVAs and movies, it was pretty popular back in the day.
A look at the time period and setting will tell you enough of the premise, a high school boy Kasuga Kyousuke with supernatural powers loves this cool beauty Ayukawa Madoka, the problem is that Ayukawa's best friend Hiyama
Hikaru (one year younger than those two) loves Kyousuke because she thinks he's awesome. Simple love triangle set in the 80s where we as young kids had no mobile phones, we went to the cinema, went to discos to listen city pop (talking about Japan), delinquents were roaming the streets and no one was making selfies to post on social media.
If it's something that this manga does extraordinary well it's the atmosphere it sets, this manga breaths the 80s, from references to common knowledge, you will be swept away into this madness, every time I read some chapters my mind was in that world, it sure brought out nostalgia from me for I spent my childhood in the 90s, my generation and the characters' generation are kinda the same, not that it matters, a young reader could enjoy this as a blast from the past, the author takes all the good and cool things from that period and rounds them into intricate and sometimes absurd plots and mini stories to keep us entertained.
Now to be serious, this manga doesn't need a review, it's too special, it deserves a rant or a lengthy analysis on why are the characters so annoying, why is the manga so repetitive, why it makes the reader to root for one of the girls and to hate the other, maybe it's because of the age of the characters or you can think meta and say that the publisher wanted to prolong the manga run because everybody was reading it for some reason. It was popular, many obsessed about it and were crazy about Ayukawa, there were waifu wars, people were sending letters to the author and later to the anime studio, what they wanted? oh nothing, they wanted their favorite girl to win the heart of the main character, at this point this manga looks like a mexican telenovela.
The potential reader has to get something straight for him before getting into it, Kyousuke in in a relationship with Hikaru, it's not a spoiler, in most manga they keep the relationships ambiguous, then they make the final couples, here he meets the girls and he makes a couple with Hikaru.
Because of his greed, he wants to fool around with Madoka and she has nothing against that, we don't know till later if Madoka likes him back or not but still, hanging out with him on dates is kinda weird and a scumbag attitude because Hikaru is her best friend. The story continues along the way with Kyousuke wanting to hook up with Madoka and keep the secret from Hikaru who is childish and innocent, and if something happens, no problem, our guy has powers. He can teleport, be invisible, move objects, basically everything, but he's too much of an idiot to use them well. That's the overall premise but we have quiet chapters from time to time when our characters just hang around having fun.
Every chapter flows though this general love triangle plot idea like I mentioned above, be it chapter 15 or chapter 121, the only difference being that the manga follows a timeline, the 3 years in high school, so you get an idea as to when it's happening. They keep reminding you that this chapter is summer break of their 1st year or this one is their second year in high school and all that. Neat idea, that means we get those beach, snowy mountain, end of the year episodes more than one time and when the mangaka is bored he'll just ship our characters to Hawaii because why not.
Don't expect wholesome romance here, it's all about "the switch", Kyousuke, the guy with powers wants to switch from Hikaru to Madoka. You may say why doesn't he break up with Hikaru and hook up with Madoka? because he's an idiot, almost all manga he denies that he's Hikaru's boyfriend, but he takes her on dates and she comes to his place from time to time. He's afraid to tell her the truth and when he actually tells her or he's caught in the act, Hikaru just brushes things away and forgets about it, he calls it a misunderstanding and the chapter's over.
I give it to Kyousuke, he's better than your usual harem protagonist and he's more assertive, he's not a pervert either but he enjoys a good boob fondle from time to time, my opinion still stays, he's just a cheating bastard, just make your mind man. I admit it's fun following him, he just wants to have the time of his life but he's too indecisive with girls.
Madoka is acting like that "other woman", she enjoys spending time with him and never tells Hikaru about them, she's afraid Hikaru would be sad, oh dear, such a great friend. Does she love Kyousuke? who knows (let's find out while reading the manga), but she surely gets into many ridiculous romantic shenanigans with him.
Without a shadow of a doubt, she is the main attraction, a girl anyone would want to date, beautiful and smart with a hot body and talent in music, she's that girl who goes to night clubs and entices men, long hair and softly spoken, strong personality and strong beliefs, but as interesting as she is, she is hard to understand and a bit tough to approach.
Hikaru is a cute and gentle girl, her signature move is running and embracing senpai (Kyousuke) and acting like a klutz, she is energetic and childlike, pure and immature, if Kyousuke would tell her he doesn't like her, will she kill herself? it's up to the reader to find out.
It looked like a decent ranting but in the end, I gulped that stuff down like a crazed fanatic. Every chapter or mini story arc (it has those too but not more than 4-5 chapters) I read, I enjoyed it. What will Kyousuke gonna do today? a date with Hikaru, but he set a date with Ayukawa too, what to do? Kyousuke will teleport from one place to another and be with both girls, of course he will forget where he is most of the time so hilarity ensures, it's a weird type of comedy, add in some sexy shots, make the guy fall on top of the girl in a funny way and I enjoy more. Every chapter has to end with the misunderstandings cleared so that their relationships remain the same.
The plots are very simple, we have delinquents trying to rape girls (happens more than one time), our mains getting drunk, Valentine's chocolate etc, insert every cliche you can think of, this manga has it all. It's very fun ride, annoying at times but I liked it even when the characters made me mad. This manga has over the top misunderstandings, just my type of comedy, and the supernatural element saves the day or ruins it in a funny way. Keep in mind that Kyousuke can flip girls' skirts with his power, basically anything weird can happen. Also, his powers are a secret, no one has to find out.
At the end of the day, it's just a lighthearted love comedy, don't put so much feelings into it, don't think about the implications of dating Madoka or dating only Hikaru, don't think about cheating (or think about these scenarios and work your brains out like I did), just follow these characters, feel the manga, feel the setting. If you like romances like Kimi ni Todoke or even Kaguya-sama, you will probably not enjoy this that much, don't invest your energy in hating the characters when they do a stupid thing, it's not worth it. The charm of Kimagure comes from the romantic shenanigans Kyousuke does it with Hikaru and Madoka, going to the disco, fancy restaurants, cheek time, the beach, mountain resort, rock concerts. I do not recommend it for the characters but for the events, sounds stupid but I don't know how to word this out, believe me, the characters are not the people you would want to be friends with, they're just unlikable. Even the other characters are annoying, there's Kyousuke's little cousin who's a brat (has powers), this kid's sister - a crazy lesbian with powers too, a guy who loves Hikaru - an obsessed idiot, Hatta and Komatsu - the most annoying individuals and backstabbing friends I saw in a slice of life manga.
The art style is decent, I say it's mediocre in the beginning but the author grows in time and we have beautiful panels towards the end, the characters are nothing to write home about, they have the 80s hair, realistic proportions, big eyes. Madoka's design is beautiful though, the mangaka nailed it, she is supposed to look like a cool beauty, a mysterious girl, hard to approach and stunning, she looks just like that. The backgrounds look good and you feel you're living in the 80s.
Don't compare this manga with the anime adaptation, the manga is wilder, for example Kyousuke specifically says one time "I have to cheat" (referring to Hikaru when he wanted to go spend time with Madoka, he never says anything like that in the anime), and there are more sexy shots and overall ecchi.
This is kinda like a journal of adolescence, when you have fun with girls, have problems with school tests, try cigarettes and alcohol, go to parties and try to get that kiss from a girl, and sometimes you are transformed into a fish or a cat.
It looks like the characters are total trash but it's not like that, I dislike them for the reasons mentioned (some people wouldn't even care about that) but they have their strong points and some deep stuff revealed as you read the manga, the story has its serious moments and it perfectly sets the atmosphere, it didn't look forced to me, I enjoyed the funny moments and the serious ones the same, the transition was nice and smooth and it is an easy and light read. The ending is satisfactory and very emotional and closes the love triangle dilemma for good.
It's 80s romcom at its best, full of all 80s cliches.
Reviewer’s Rating: 8
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