I don’t drink saké, I take tea my dear…
Kiniro Mosaic is a interesting, yet simple, show. It’s another entry adrift in a sea of slice-of-life cute comedies about girls getting together, trying its absolute best to do something different from all the others so that it will be picked up, appreciated and loved. Kiniro Mosaic does this by poking fun at cultural differences between Japan and Britain.
Kiniro Mosaic, or Kinmoza! as Sentai Filmworks have titled it for the west, is about five girls. Shino, Alice, Aya, Yoko and Karen. Alice and Karen are from England, a country Shino is obsessed with. Shino met Alice when she visited England as a child and have since then dreamed of becoming a translator for the English language. This is the simple set-up for the show, but the execution is all about character interactions and jokes.
The five main characters all have something that’s unique to them. Karen being a fan-favourite with her broken Japanese and energetic attitude. Shino is a anglophile who will take any chance to do something in a more English way, where as Alice is the opposite when it comes to Japanese culture. My personal favourite of the girls is Aya, who is a sweet but shy girl who harbors at least a small crush on Yoko, her childhood friend. Yoko being a more boyish girl who shows off whenever she has a chance. They work well together, a dynamic that is by far the show’s strongest front.
As with most shows of this genre, it relies a lot on simply being cute. That’s no inherently bad if you’re a fan of this type of show, but if you were expecting a quicker barrage of jokes, like in Yuyushiki, you might be disappointed to find that there are quite a few bits without jokes, only relying on a cute idea for cuteness sake. Personally I found this effective and enjoyable. Kinmoza! very much becomes a show that can cheer me up just by looking at images from certain episodes as a result.
Now, there’s no denying that the writers of Kinmoza! aren’t all that up-to-date on modern English culture and mannerisms. For the sake of the show being more fun and having a better overall feeling to it, this works if you can suspend your disbelief enough. But if you’re picky about these things, you will most likely be really annoyed whenever they try to show or talk about life in England. I didn’t mind this personally, but consider it as a potential warning.
The voice-acting is great as well, with all five main characters having distinct and defined voices that fit their personality. While Risa Taneda‘s performance as Aya is my favourite, a lot of props should go to Manami Tanaka as Alice and Asuka Nishi as Shino, as they’ve barely done any voice-work prior to this show, yet excel at it. Nao Touyama and Yumi Uchiyama also do a great job as Yoko and Karen. They also perform both the Opening Theme, Jumping!!, and the Ending Theme, Your Voice, together.
Overall, the soundtrack is good even if it’s not very memorable. There’s no specific tune that stands out after you’ve stopped watching the show and seeking out the soundtrack CD itself is not worth it unless you want the original songs, not present in the actual show, that’s on it. Though there is one specific sequence where the music stands out in a way I’ve not seen done in anime for a long time, though I won’t spoil where. But when it happens, it’s glorious.
The show doesn’t do much with its visual presentation and remains mostly safe whenever it tries to push for anything. If going just by looks, the show basically is a by-the-numbers safe slice-of-life show. It lacks the sometimes playful look of Yuyushiki, the greatly detailed Aiura or the unique art-style that a show like Hidamari Sketch would have.
As such it needs to survive on character design and the contrasts in the presentation of England and Japan, both which works in the show’s favor. Whenever the show takes place in England, it’s presented in letterbox with a dreamlike feel to it, where as in Japan it’s presented as a regular show. The characters look different enough to be memorable at first sight and their designs fit the personalities presented like a glove.
Kinmoza! manages to stay strong throughout most of its episodes, even if doesn’t actually try to develop beyond its premise. While this is obviously intentional due to what kind of show it is, I would have liked to see some aspects expanded upon further, be it regarding the relationships with the characters outside of school or just seeing more of the life in England. The series only tells the story of the first year of school, so there’s always room for more in a sequel, but whether or not that will be something that takes shape is something that only time can tell.
As it stands, Kinmoza! have some really good high points and very few low points in terms of actual quality. I can only really think of one instance where I had no clue what the staff was thinking, unfortunately it was during a bit in the final episode, but no show is ever perfect, so that’s okay.
If you like cute things and are into slice-of-life shows about girls just being girls, this might just be for you. It was definitely for me, no question about that. No, I’m not just saying this because Aya and Yoko are adorable together. Two of the shows running for my “Best Show of the Season” spot has now ended, next week will see the end to the third and last contestant.