Sora's love for the stage and for others to love the stage with her had us all entranced. Pure joy in performance.
By: Nicole S. Castro on July 14, 2022 at 12:55 PHT
Looking for a heartwarming but still action-packed shoujo series from the 2000s? How about acrobatics anime Kaleido Star?
Kaleido Star (カレイドスター) is a Japanese anime series animated by studio Gonzo. It ran for 2 seasons totaling 51 episodes from 2003 to 2004. The series was created by Junichi Sato, who also directed the first season, and was written by Reiko Yoshida. Season 2, Kaleido Star: New Wings, was directed by Yoshimasa Hiraike.
The anime was later adapted into three original video animations (OVAs) from 2004 to 2006, followed by a manga series (2007-2009).
Plot and Throwback (anime)
Kaleido Star features protagonist Sora Naegino (CV: Ryo Hirohashi), an acrobatically talented girl who dreams of performing on the Kaleido Stage because she watched a performance there as a child. She travels from Japan to Los Angeles, USA to pursue her dream, but ends up missing the audition after a thief ran off with her luggage.
Since Sora was late, veteran performer Layla Hamilton (CV: Sayaka Ohara) refuses to let her audition, but Kaleido Stage manager Kalos Eido (CV: Keiji Fujiwara), who had seen Sora's acrobatics while she was chasing the thief, gives her a rare chance by performing with the cast that day. Thanks to Kalos, Sora becomes an official member of Kaleido Stage, but Layla and the other circus members don't respect her because she joined through unusual circumstances.
Despite Sora's initial lack of skill, she works hard to master the necessary tricks and eventually becomes one of the lead performers alongside Layla. Sora and Layla are two of the few performers who can see Fool, Spirit of The Stage (CV: Takehito Koyasu), implying they have been chosen for greatness.
How did the anime end?
The finale features Sora surpassing Layla, who has been her inspiration since she first watched the Kaleido Stage as a child. Sora and Layla compete in an audition for the leading role of Odette in Swan Lake. They both perform the dangerous Angel's Maneuver successfully, but it is Sora's heartfelt performance that leaves the circus members in awe.
As Odette, Sora performs the legendary Angel's Maneuver in front of the public and ascends into the sky just as the sun rises.
Kaleido Star doesn't have a complex plot. Like most sports anime protagonists, Sora evolves from zero to hero by undergoing the harshest of training, as well as some conflict with supporting characters. At the end, she becomes the ultimate star. While none of this is surprising, it is the magical execution of the acrobatics performances as well as Sora's sincere emotions that win the hearts of its viewers.
By the time you reach the finale, Sora's pure love for the stage and for others to love the stage with her will have you entranced.
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NICOLE S. CASTRO
Nicole is based in the Philippines and works as a freelance Japanese Translator/Interpreter and copywriter (English). She is a JLPT N2 passer who watches anime to "study" for N1. She has a long career history on LinkedIn (with primary focus on media and translation), but her anime watchlist is much, much longer.