One of our collective staff favorites here at Otaquest is the legendary Kimagure Orange Road originally by Izumi Matsumoto.
Aside from having an extremely cool title on its face, the series has so much of what we love to see in anime and manga. It has a visual style that still looks great to this day and a number of all-time jams that you might retroactively call City Pop adjacent. Of course, the aesthetics of the show and the manga aren’t the only reason we’re so particular to this classic show.
Each and every episode and chapter is filled with charm from start to finish. Delightful characters doing classic 80s rom-com shenanigans, it’s a whole lot of fun from start to finish. It also inspired a host of other romance from the boy’s perspective series over the years, like your Ichigo 100%s and you Love Hinas. We guarantee it was one of the best to do it though, holding up to this day.
Believe It Or Not, The Kimagure Orange Road Manga Ran In Jump
When you think Weekly Shonen Jump, probably the likes of Dragon Ball, One Piece, and My Hero Academia are the first series to come to mind. Anime where spunky and spirited boys bash each other to bits and then team up to fight the real baddies afterward. While that’s always been manga’s most influential magazine’s bread and butter, they’ve published their fair share of gag manga and other oddities over the years.
While you might not call Kimagure Orange Road a gag series on the surface, its comedic episode to episode stories mirror even older comedy manga. Where it broke ground from the Kochikames and Dr. Slumps of the world was how it successfully married romance and endearing character moments into the mix. The magazine, nor any magazine, doesn’t run manga like this anymore and we think that’s a real shame.
Kimagure Orange Road Is A Delight From Episode 1
There are arguments to be made on either side of the ‘whether you should watch or read Kimagure Orange Road’ question, although the true answer is to do both obviously! If you are feeling like maybe the anime version is calling out to you, what with it now being available to watch on Crunchyroll, you should definitely go for it!
Visually, the show puts forth some spectacularly pleasing 80s aesthetic from indulgent pastel colors, delightfully retro outfits, and gorgeous art style through and through. From the very first episode of the show, you’re filled with a warm sensation; Like you traveled back in time to the bubble economy years on an endless summer vacation, with the only care in the world being who you’re going to take to the discotheque and if you’ve improved your dance skills enough for next Saturday night.
What Set Madoka Ayukawa Apart From The Others?
There’s no denying that Madoka Ayukawa is the fan-favorite character Kimagure Orange Road character.
With the show starting off with the serious long-haired beauty transferring into the same school as the bumbling male lead Kyosuke and the plucky Hikaru who has a huge crush on him, she leaves as strong of an impression on you and she does on them.
She takes no crap and isn’t afraid to put herself into repeated physical danger to save her friends from the likes of crappy guys, school gangs, and any other undesirable person. Highly intelligent and knowing her way around the saxophone, of course, she quickly becomes the most popular lady around. Not to say that Hikaru doesn’t have her great qualities too, but Ayukawa has captivated more hearts.
Yes, The Love Triangle Has A Definitive Ending
One problem you often run into with some long-running anime and manga, especially those that come from the pages of shonen magazines like Jump, is that when they end a lot of loose threads are still hanging in the air. Even series where love and romance play a key part in the story can end inconclusively, like a certain seminal classic anime about a boy who changes into a girl when doused with hot water. If you know, you know.
However, if you’re worried that Kimagure Orange Road ends without the satisfaction of knowing who Kyosuke Kasuga will end up with, the fun-loving carefree Hikaru or the collected and intense Ayukawa, don’t be. While we won’t say how, the ending comes to a genuine head. No frustrating half sentiments that’ll leave you pissed off for days on end here.
The Aesthetics And The Music Of Kimagure Road Have Come Around Full Circle
Like another eternal 80s classic anime series Urusei Yatsura, Kimagure Orange Road has earned itself an entirely new generation of fans thanks to that quote-unquote aesthetic trend in internet subculture materializing over the last decade. With the show’s absolutely delightful abundance of City Pop and City Pop adjacent music in its soundtrack combined with all the slick retro fits you’d ever want like Lum-Chan has, Madoka Ayukawa has become some kind of Future Funk fodder which does bring new fans into the show itself.
While the brunt of the show’s original score was composed by Shiro Sagisu, who would go on to do the iconic soundtrack for Neon Genesis Evangelion and do some atypical work on Bleach, they brought in some top talent at the time to do the openings and endings as well as some insert music.
Names like Meiko Nakahara and Kanako Waka have become familiarized with people all over the world thanks to the global internet-based City Pop revival movement, but before we were ever listening to unofficial Youtube compilations of their songs they laid the voices down in Kimagure Orange Road.
Some say the vaporwave aesthetic evokes nostalgia for something or some time that never existed. Arguably though, Kimagure Orange Road was the personification of the idealized bubble era of Japan we collectively made up and romanticized in our heads. A mess of pastel colors, overstated fashion, and the warm waves 80s JPop all jumbled together with some beautiful girls and comic hijinks to boot.
How You Can Watch Kimagure Orange Road?
For a long time, Kimagure Orange Road had gone the way of the dodo in English speaking parts of the world. Animeigo had put out VHS and then later DVD editions of the series and its first film back in the 90s and the very early 2000s, but those went out of print pretty quickly. If you were looking to nab a complete edition of Kimagure, that was impossible until recently.
Once again we thank the dutiful Discotek Media for resurrecting this once lost classic and putting it out on Blu Ray, making the show shine better than ever. To be clear, the TV series is available and one set and the OVA and the first film have been bundled up in another. Back in the day, ADV Films had licensed the second movie and while that license has expired, the second film has unfortunately yet to be relicensed.
For those of you who don’t want to spend their cash on a show they haven’t seen, Discotek has also made the original TV anime, the OVAs, and the glorious first film available to watch on Crunchyroll. With that, this beloved aesthetic classic can be enjoyed at home and on the go, provided you have a membership. If you do, we really recommend this title as it’s a favorite of many OTAQUEST staffers.
Just to note, the manga has been also made available for the first time in full by Digital Manga Publishing exclusively through their website.