Type: TV (26 episodes)
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Kaleido Stage is an entertainment venue combining acrobatics with theater. Sora dreamed since she was a little girl of joining the stage, but misses out on the audition. Fortune still favors her when she's still allowed to join, however she finds showbiz more complex than she imagined. It's not only physically demanding, but also requires chemistry with fellow performers and connecting with the audience.
Sora has many things to overcome. The most difficult obstacle will be the disapproval of Layla: the biggest star of the show. Yet Layla may be the one who drives Sora to become a true star.
I felt simultaneously curious and put off by the concept of Kaleido Star. Do I want to watch an anime about acrobats? Actually this is the kind stuff anime could use more of. It's a new concept (not a rehash) well suited to anime. The ideas are within the realm of possibility, but allows for artistic flare suited to an animated format (it would be pretty hard to do this right live action).
Kaleido Star combines two genres that oddly work well together: sports and showbiz. In the sports vein there is the hard work, and practice required to perfect the art. Upcoming shows often require them to perform feats they've never attempted before. Physically pushing themselves is only one aspect; they they need to connect with the audience as well. Mixed in with all this is all the drama queen theater cattiness you can imagine.
So on paper it looks good, but it took me a while to warm up to this anime. The story is fair, and the characters are... fair. Kaleido Star's big failing is creating true drama. It's good at characters acting like assholes, and this of course produces conflict, but that's not really drama. Characters are cruel to Sora, then you're supposed to feel sorry for her, and then her energetic personality will persevere. While not a bad idea, most of this happens for no reason. Nearly all problems are created by blaming Sora for things she couldn't be expected to know. Why? Because no one explained it to her. Since I couldn't really buy into that idea, I had issues chewing on a good 2/3 of the drama invented this way, but perhaps that's just me.
It was Layla who made the show for me. She becomes Sora's rival, idol, and partner all at once. It starts as an adversarial relationship, but grows into an interesting partnership. Unfortunately I can't say any other characters were memorable enough to even recall their names, but for the most part they aren't annoying.
Another thing I like about Kaleido Star is the slight edge of suspense. Usually the setup is perform new feat "X" for an upcoming show. This of course requires a lot of training. Kaleido Star isn't so predictable that characters always succeed. Partial failures happen a lot, so waiting for the outcome kept me glued to the show more than I otherwise would be.
Kaleido Star doesn't have any distinct weaknesses, nor is it particularly strong. Yet I'd still say it's solid all around. As An easy to digest show, it's worth checking into.
Sora: I am totally not suspicious. I'm a fairy godmother!
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