3 Episode Taste Test: kimikiss - pure rouge

A mix of French, English and what one can only assume is Japanese in the title? It must be the school-romance genre. Kimikiss is unashamedly pedestrian in its subject matter and plants itself squarely in the mid-teen age range in both content and audience. The first three episodes do little else other than set a suitably solid foundation for future angst and trauma from the bevy of humdrum adolescents.

as unchallenging as it may be, romance aficionados may find much to get wrapped up in

Beginning inauspiciously with a returning childhood friend, a confusingly out-of-place kiss and other paraphernalia which is sure to be over-analysed as the series progresses. The characters of kimikiss, supposed to be the meat of the series, can initially be written off as typical and uninteresting; sporadically however they staunchly refuse to resort back to their obvious archetypes and plough forward giving the illusion of momentum when in fact nothing has changed. The set up of ditzy boy liking introverted girl has been recycled innumerable times before, most memorably the recent School Days, although there is little indication of murderous tendencies here; instead it is a gentle, soap-opera flow with no ideas above its station except to entertain its audience with predictable sentimentality.

While typical of the genre, kimikiss falls short by making bland and uninspired characters dance to the tune of mediocrity. The narrative is non-existent and holds all the lure of a box of frogs and the series seems content to wallow within the tepid confines of its genre. The only alluring characters are the enigmatic Eriko Futami, who's forthright manner is refreshing in comparison to everyone else's reticence, and the similarly tight-lipped Eiji Kai who would be annoyingly curt were he on screen for a long period of time. Primarily, it's a lack of empathy which blights the troupe, each one feeling like a substandard character rather than a believable, or at least engaging, person: what one would think as a prerequisite rather than a nicety. This is not helped by the art-style which on a cursory glance seems detailed, especially for a J.C. Staff production, but suffers from extreme exaggeration of proportions, far beyond the expectations of anime; eyes, while not on the same level as KEY creations, are absurdly spaced while limbs frequently take on anorexic or at least boneless proportions.

These are perhaps niggling, yet more tangible points in comparison to the other more fundamental problems the series exhibits. These concerns could all be for naught if the worth is more slow-burning and emotional; this is unlikely unless the series were to undergo a meteoric upswing in writing quality. Perhaps these detrimental aspects are simply cruft accumulated and now expected of the genre and as unchallenging as it may be, romance aficionados may find much to get wrapped up in; although one doubts there are subtleties beyond those invented by the viewer themselves. Other similar series such as the lauded Kimi ga nozumu eien or even the prototypical Ichigo 100% showed more inventiveness and willingness to not stoically conform to expectations and are much easier to recommend over kimikiss.

Based upon a clean dating sim, the series eschews the obvious harem trappings and instead wordlessly pairs off everyone with the first episode without so much as a second glance, this makes anticipation of a climax fruitless. There is little conflict or drama and without anything to raise it above competition from other shows, kimikiss is a paint-by-numbers school-life and romance show for an audience with little else to do other than watch trashy, unexceptional series; the anime equivalent of an airport-novel.