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Ginban Kaleidoscope caught my eye a while back thanks to its unique premise. Admittedly, I have an interest in stories involving spirits, and I’ve been in the mood for a nice lighthearted romcom. And when it comes to sports, to be honest the only ones I have the faintest interest in watching are found in the Winter Olympics. I like snow and ice, and the contestants really dive right into such dangerous and spectacular sports for these events… Figure skating included. I’m not truly into the sport (eg I don’t know most of the terms), but it is quite exhilarating to watch.

Low Production Values… High Creativity

So Ginban Kaleidoscope is probably not going to be found in many top ten anime lists in regards to art, animation, music, or even general execution–but just going by these first four episodes, I have to say I’m fine with that. The characters are fun, the premise is intriguing, and the plot is sound. Though rather silly (and wonderfully camp) at first glance, the series seems to have a lot more heart to it than I was first expecting. And perhaps even more surprisingly… the anime has actually surprised me with some of its plot developments! It’s made me pretty excited for how the series will play out.

I’d like to analyze the show in terms of how well it operates as a comedy, a sports anime, and as a supernatural romance.

The Keyword is Tomato

First of all, isn’t that just the best title ever for an anime episode? Ginban Kaleidoscope has a nice variety to its humor, most of it driven by the characters and their clashing personalities. The running jokes for some reason have managed to amuse me throughout these four episodes. Tazusa repeatedly tortures Pete via tomato binges, for example, but there’s been some variety to how she’s gone about it (and said binges lead into other gags as well… LOL). I also find it amusingly goofy how the coach keeps thinking Tazusa is yelling at him when she’s actually yelling at Pete, though the funniest moments are probably when the coach and Youko (her little sister) have these ._. faces as they watch Tazusa doing all these crazy things and (seemingly) yelling at nobody. All the amazing Engrish was also appreciated. (I rather liked how energetic Pete’s voice actor was for those moments.)

The series in general hasn’t been too serious in tone, which makes for an interesting contrast with the show’s thematic elements. The plot element of Pete possessing Tazusa’s body is treated in a lighthearted way, and makes Ginban Kaleidoscope a unique spin on the traditional “work your very hardest to achieve success at a certain sport” story.

If it Happens Twice, it Will Happen Again

Tazusa seems like a pretty basic protagonist for a sports story, right? She’s determined, plucky, devoted, creative, talented, and never gives up. But interestingly, Ginban Kaleidoscope has devoted much of its time to her failures at the ice rink. The very first scene showcases her fall at an important tournament, and subsequent episodes have her falling and losing multiple events. Impressively the show still manages to maintain that Tazusa is a very skilled figure skater, largely by having her continually push herself to go for the most difficult spins and jumps she possibly can.

Most sports stories don’t make things easy for the protagonist (because that would be dull), but generally the protagonist does end up winning somehow. In this case, Tazusa has lost every time, and the fact she has fallen on the ice more than once makes me truly wonder if she will succeed or not from episode to episode. It’s kind of funny to admit this, but I did hold my breath for much of the figure skating sequences in this series. XD But what will be the end result for this series, I wonder? Most every sports film features the protagonist(s) winning the championship in the end. Will Tazusa make it into the Olympics and get the gold medal, as would be expected? Before I started this show, I would have said that would be obvious. But I’m really not sure now. Perhaps there’s some better message in this story than the tired Aesop “do your very best and in the end you’ll surely succeed!” The fact our protagonist is possessed by the ghost of a boy who died while pursuing his interest (apparently flying stunt planes) seems to imply something a bit deeper than your average sports anime.

Of course, more important than the sport itself are the characters, and these first four episodes have really gotten me rooting for them.

The Ultimate Weapon of a Good Performance…

…is a Secret Smile! XD So camp, but it’s rather sweet too. Tazusa certainly has her personality flaws to deal with on top of all her external conflicts (namely dealing with being possessed by a ghost and her struggle to get into the Olympics), but she remains sympathetic and easy to relate to through it all. Pete is perhaps even more easy to like, thanks to how surprisingly positive he is despite his unfortunate death at the young age of sixteen. And though his existence has certainly made Tazusa’s life more difficult, it’s not like things are easy for him either (The Keyword is Tomato!). Recognizing the impossibility of escaping his current situation, he’s making the best of it by helping Tazusa out in any way he can. Somehow he’s got to help Tazusa smile, and love her life as a figure skater even when she fails at important matches and is hounded by the relentless media.

And as expected, there is some attachment building between the two despite their (understandably) conflicted first impressions of one another. I’m expecting Tazusa will come to learn more about Pete in the next few episodes, and Pete will find ways to support Tazusa amidst her efforts to compete in the Olympics. But how far can a romance go between a girl and the spirit of a boy who happens to be possessing her? I mean, he is just a voice in her head. x_x The fact he has a limited number of days to be with her is spelling out tragedy from the very onset. But despite this, I think I’ll find it interesting how the show goes about the concept of love and romance. Does love develop simply when one spends enough time with another, doing all she can for him?

At the end of episode four, Tazusa has become stunned by just how perceptive Pete has become. Is there some past connection the two might have somehow shared? Or is Pete just coming to understand everything about Tazusa thanks to the fact he is constantly with her 24/7? It’s certainly a unique situation, and I look forward to seeing how it will be developed further in this series.

Let me know what you all think of the show so far! And be sure to come back next week, as the discussion will continue for episodes 5-8.