Kimagure Orange Road (KOR) is one of those shows that are defining classics across the genres. It’s one of the most popular romantic comedy comics from the 1980’s that most older animation fans know about, but the younger audience most likely has missed it. KOR’s influence is still seen in Japanese romance comedies, but let’s take a look at how many parallels it has with Kimi ga Nozomu Eien. Now I’m basing the introduction to KOR on the animated version, as the comic hasn’t been released in the West in English… yet. There have been promises about that thou. And oh yeah, spoiler alarm for all who have not yet seen KOR.
Damnit the 80’s had gorgeous TV-animation
The story of Kimagure Orange Road starts as our main character Kyousoke Kasuga is walking hundred steps stairs in his new home town. There Kyousuke sees a red hat flying low in the sky, grabbed by the wind. He proceeds to make a bold jump and catches the hat. The hat belongs to Madoka Ayukawa, a girl of his age. The two banter slightly over how many steps the stairs had, and the two seem to enjoy the newfound company. Madoka gifts the hat to Kyousuke as a present, and walks away. Of course, Kyousuke can’t get her out of his mind.
However, Kyousuke isn’t the most normal person. Actually, his mother and her family hold supernatural powers known as the Power. What the Power does varies between the family members. For example, Kyousuke can teleport whereas his cousin can’t. Naturally, Kyousuke and his younger twin sisters are forbidden from using the Power in public, as it would lead into series of difficult situations.
The following day is their first school day, where he happens to meet Hikaru Hiyama, a tough talking rapscallion who is two years older than her friend Madoka. She makes fun of a punk who gave her lift to school, and the punk swears revenge. She doesn’t seem to care for him, Kyousuke or his sisters, and she merely passes them.
Later that day Kyousuke and the twins witness a fight, where Madoka is beating up pun
. Hikaru’s also there, and Kyousuke just watches about, not believing that this is the same kind person who he had met previously. It’s the same punk that Hikaru made into clown of earlier, and now he has his gang in the mess. Still, Madoka kicks all of their asses, and just as she’s about to light a cigarette Kyousuke steps in to stop her by popping her cigarette with the Power and destroys it by hand, telling her straight that if she smokes at a young age, she won’t be able to have healthy babies. He gets slapped silly and Madoka refuses to acknowledge she ever met a guy like him.
The day after the incident Kyousuke reflects on his situation and about his powers. He could use them to win a basketball game, or he could’ve had influenced Madoka’s fight. Yet, he acknowledges that showing off with his powers to Madoka is kind of a real life cheat code and he doesn’t want to use it. As he is reflecting alone in the gym and bouncing a ball, Kyousuke musters up atiny bit of his powers as a test and throws the ball to the other side, and the balls slips right through the net. What he doesn’t know is that Hikaru had sneaked into the gym’s storage room to smoke and saw him do the throw. She’s completely astonished; her opinion on Kyousuke on that moment changes from generic creeper to pretty awesome guy whose also pretty damn cute. In other words, she falls in love that instant.
Later on Kyousuke bumps in Hikaru while chasing his two new friends down the hall, and there she gives him thepetname Darling. Naturally Kyousuke gets in trouble for doing so (laying on girls in the middle of school’s hallway is rarely a good idea) and it is Madoka who gets him out from the teacher’s lounge after some tough talk of her own to the teachers. It looks like she is a sweet girl after all, and stays with him for some time in the school premise. However, Hikaru is a girl who really knows what she wants, and manages to appoint herself as Kyousuke’s girlfriend and acts all lovey-dovey towards her, much to Kyousuke’s own dismay and to certain extent, Madoka’s as well.
And so, our love triangle is ready.
The parallels with Kimi ga Nozomu Eien are clear at this point; we have a main character falling in love with someone, and not taking real steps toward bringing his feelings out. Ultimately, he ends up dating his interest’s friend.
I’m quite sure that âge has taken this love triangle setup from Kimagure Orange Road almost directly, but without realizing it. They’re fanboys after all, if all those references to games, mecha series and more in KGNE and Muv-Luv didn’t tip you off. It’s not the most uncommon setup ever used, but it saw a large spike in popularity in TV and comics after KOR had started. While KOR keeps the love triangle all the way to the end, KGNE does break it with Haruka’s accident. Of course, it returns when she wakes up.
The main characters of both series, Takayuki and Kyousuke, share very few common elements outside of being somewhat oblivious about their situation and what to do. Takayuki even more so, but then again very few teenage boys do during their first relationship. However, Madoka and Hayase do share a lot of similarities. Both of them act though while hiding something within, and in the end they both are very lovable girls who have fallen in love. While Hayase’s toughness is mostly playful, Madoka is a straight punk beater with her own reputation. She’s sort of a legendary ring leader. Perhaps we can compare that to Hayase’s swimming career to an extent. Nevertheless, there’s some visual similarities as well, like the long hair. In personality the two do put their best friend before themselves, which kinda is the reason things never go anywhere at first, but it takes two to tango. In love triangle it’s hard when the third one has nabbed your man. Madoka especially remembers her giving up on certain memento for Hikaru’s sake. This kind of mindset of It’s OK, I’m close enough to him this way kinda sucks, and I know it first hand.
The comparison between Haruka and Hikaru might seem weird to some, but ultimately they both have a similar starting point. Where Hikaru just falls into mad love within two days after meeting the Kyousuke, Haruka has clearly watched over Takayuki for some time through Hayase’s interaction with him. The two do what they need to do to get their man, and I’m afraid Haruka’s the bitchier of the two, as she clearly acknowledges Hayase’s and Takayuki’s feelings before stepping inbetween them. Hikaru has no idea of the feelings of Kyousuke and Madoka, but as the series continues she clearly realizes that Madoka is not only her best friend, but also her rival in love. The sad thing is, I’m sure she realized at one point that she has no chance to win over his heart. Nevertheless, the two have their sides switched, where Haruka mostly keeps her stronger side hidden while being all girly, and Hikaru does the opposite at first.
There’s also the sister character. While archetypical, Akane does wish to see Takayuki end up with her sister, and Kyousuke’s more motherly little sister would want to see him end up with Hikaru. True, we can argue if this comparison is valid as Akane is Haruka’s sister, but my counterargument would be that Takayuki always saw Akane as a little sister to himself and nothing more.
The side characters are more unique to both of the stories, but a comparison between the café Abcb Master and the Doctor Kouzuki Motoko can be drawn. Both of these characters stand in the sidelines watching the main character’s life and decision while giving drops of information here and there, and supporting the main character when needed. Both of them fill the same role, and I have to say that certain warm element comefrom both of them, as they can be stern when needed. They’re not really the archetypical big brother/sister character either, as they live separate from the main character and generally work around the mainframe of the setting while directly affecting it. Not really the most common big brother/sister trope out there.
Then there’s the sex. Kimagure Orange Road dances around this subject quite well without directlyaddressing it any more than you’d expect a romantic comedy to. However, the two films that create a third alternate ending address this matter more directly and with heavy emphasize on the meaning of it to lovers. Kimi ga Nozomu Eien gives a bit more raw image of it mostly because of the VN standards with sex, thou in KGNE’s case it’s clearly about connecting one to another on all levels to ensure closeness. The characters in KGNE are not the most balanced ones, whereas in KOR they have not gone through anything that would make them go all mental with alcohol. I got to give praise to Touru Furuya on his voice acting in the end of the second movie, where Kyousuke tearfully opens his whole soul to Madoka. It’s a beautiful scene, that I won’t forget in a long, long time.
All this fetches something from the back of my mind; is Kimi ga Nozomu Eien a classic? The answer would be no, it’s not. This is because of its VN roots, and while it did affect series that came after and coined the popular tsundere term, KGNE has not become a similar classic as Kimagure Orange Road. The animation is infamous within the hobbyists, and it divides opinions quite a lot. While the story itself is somewhat timeless and can be applied to almostevery era with slight changes, it will never be able to stand on the same ground as KOR. I hate to say, but VN is not really a good form to release high calibre stories, unless somebody manages to lift it into an actually legitimate storytelling form in the eyes of the general populace. It’s put there, but if it had been a comic or a TV-series first, then it would have become more known and more popular. Not by much, but enough to allow me to call it a classic.
Kimagure Orange Road is a must-see classic. Its influence over Kimi ga Nozomu Eien is wider than the few bullet points I’ve brought up, but this kind of similar points can be pinpointed in various other stories as well. KOR didn’t just influence elements of these romance comedies, but also their way to tell it and what to emphasize. Sadly, nowadays the genre’s pretty much dead, replaced by perverted comedies that have some love thrown into them. Mysterious Girlfriend X has influence of KOR written in it, but it as well dances in the sidelines of the new generation of fanservice comedies.KOR wasn’t a hit just with the core animation fan audience, but in the general Japanese public as well. It was like lighting, and it’s cancellation was partly due to the declining sales of the comics, and the upcoming economic crash Japan had in the change of 80’s to 90’s. Still, it got published few times around, and the cut ending got expanded later on in the collected versions.
Kimagure Orange Road’s TV-series and films were released in English in 2001 by now bankrupted ADV. Sadly, these DVDs are rather high prices nowadays and are not remastered. If you want to see the series, I recommend getting the Japanese remastered DVD. In Katsucon 18 it was announced that Kimagure Orange Road has been licensed for English translation by Hivelinx, thou only for digital distribution via NTT Solmare. To my knowledge various European countries like France and Spain have had their own releases, so you might want to do some digging.
Unlike most 80’s stuff, Kimagure Orange Road is a significant piece of influence. Simply by watching it you can notice the numerous allegories made towards it in other works, and how it pioneered a certain genre to a better direction, and also expanded the readership (and the market) by large amount, captivating readers’ and viewers’ hearts for years and years to come.
And you know what’s pretty awesome? The original artist for the comic was influences by none other than Uncle Go himself.