First Impression – Kiniro Mosaic

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Cross-Cultural Comedy from England to Japan

spring13-highwWe’ve already had one 4-koma adaptation in Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku, and now we get another one this season with Kiniro Mosaic. So how does this story of cross-cultural confluence come through the first episode? Let’s take a look!

Is this an OVA?

Beautiful scenery

The series starts off with this beautiful scenery of London, what’s not to like so far?

I was actually pretty shocked as the show opened up, because the opening sequence just had a gorgeous look. And really the first 15 minutes, maybe even the whole first episode, really give an OVA feeling. Telling the story of Shinobu’s past trip to England for a homestay, it gives us the introduction of Alice and Shinobu, which really doesn’t go very well due to Alice’s shyness and self-consciousness about not knowing Japanese. The show actually does handle the British / Japanese language divide pretty well, with Alice’s mother seemingly fully bilingual, but interestingly, she never translates for Alice and Shinobu. Instead, they’re left to try to figure out how to communicate on their own, and although they never get much past “Hello / Konnichi wa” and “Arigatou,” Alice and Shinobu do end up as good friends.

Shinobu and Alice

Alice and Shinobu

So with Shinobu now in high school, she gets a letter from Alice, but can’t read it. Never mind that, tho, because that’s the day that Alice transfers into her high school. Oh, and she’s going to be staying with Shinobu and her mom! Suprise! On top of that, Alice has learned Japanese, so much of the language barrier is now gone, but thankfully we’ve still got the cultural barriers.

Reunited

And now reunited

Gorgeous, Fun, and Touching

Shinobu arrives in England

Does England like this even exist any more?

Perhaps the only other show to touch me as much in the first 10 minutes was Kotoura-san. But while that was in service of breaking down the main character, and setting a mood of sadness, this one is almost the complete opposite. The soft animation, well integrated CGI vehicles (the opening shot is a perfectly done shot of a landing jet, followed by an airport walk), warm color palette, orchestral score, and even the choice to animate it in wide-aspect really made it look like a movie or special. And it tells a happy story of growing friendship and familiarity, the kind of experience I think everyone would love to have, as Shinobu and Alice work through their differences. The mix of English and Japanese while Shinobu is in England is really well done, and even the English parts aren’t too bad, although the pronunciation is typically just off a little bit. But more than everything, it just is a happy story. When the story returns to Japan and High School, it does move away from the cinematic aspect, but stays lighthearted and nice, with the reunion between Alice and Shinobu a lot of fun.

The best representation of Shinobu

The best representation of Shinobu that Alice could come up with was a Japanese doll

This is where some of the bigger name VA’s have gone for this season, with Tamara Yukari, Satou Satomi, Taneda Risa, and Touyama Nao all contributing, as well as some less well-known actresses like Nishi Asuka as the lead with Shinobu. In the music department, besides the excellent orchestra score, there’s also some jazzy song thrown in (which may be the ED), and an upbeat song Jumping for what may be the OP. This is really the most I’ve taken note of music in an anime in a long time, and it’s for the good. Usually incidental soundtracks are something I don’t care about, but this one’s working for me.

I like the bedspread

I had to stop myself from taking a thousand screenshots, but I just love the bedspread on this one

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This opening episode was tremendous. The OVA style of it really took me away, and gave the series a great start. The art was beautiful, really evoking a British countryside that may be almost impossible to find these days, but still exists in our hearts and imaginations. The culture clash was played down a little, and the English never lapsed into engrish (mostly because Shinobu never said anything in English besides “Hello” and “Guts Pose!”), which really helped the atmosphere not turn campy. I really hope that the format doesn’t change too much, and that they can keep stories working, rather than small vignettes or skits like they did at the end of the episode. They were really good to walk the show out, but I doubt they could carry a show. It was pretty neat to have so much after the ED song, however. And since I can’t really think of any other way to end this post, I’ll end with this: I hope you like this show as much as I did!

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Proving that you don't have to be young to love anime, I enjoy all genres and styles of shows. If it's not hurting anyone else, you should never be ashamed of what you like!
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42 Responses to “First Impression – Kiniro Mosaic”

  1. skylion says:

    Yeah, this one was on full charm offensive.

    I cannot really tell, but just going by accent, I think Shinobu was staying in Engrishire. It still looks pastoral.
    I loved that comforter she slept under, with all the British motifs. It’s like they just had to remind you, six minutes in that she’s staying in England.

    And take a minute to appreciate some of the deadpan humour the show delivers. In Love Lab and The Going Home Club we get so much reactionary comedy, Kiniro is made of more subtle stylings.

    • Highway says:

      This may be another anime set approximately 15-20 years ago. I find it hard to believe that anytime in the last 5 years they wouldn’t have continued to send email and photos to each other. Maybe they’ll bring up more modern stuff now, like cell phones and video games, because while I can believe that some old country farmhouse in Britain doesn’t have much in the way of electrical devices (or cell reception) (but no TV at all, kind of unbelievable), I can’t really go with that for modern Japan (actually, didn’t Shinobu’s house have a flat screen TV?).

      I didn’t think the English was bad, with the worst offenses being the emPHAsis on the wrong syllAble. It wasn’t like Love Lab’s batting .000 with one sign in mangled english (“TOIRET”).

      • skylion says:

        I can’t really say much about the time/tech level. I don’t really pay that much attention to it. But I think the air mail reference may be a point to the fact that the not so fast on the uptake Shinobu would almost miss the slowness of air mail.

        • Highway says:

          Speaking of not so fast on the uptake, I was trying to decide if it was an animation derp, or Shinobu being not so fast on the uptake, but when she’s in school, and Aya points out that she still has her outdoor shoes on, she goes back to change them. After they talk to Alice, Shinobu walks back out… with her outdoor shoes on again. I have to think it was a Shinobu screwup, not an animation screwup.

  2. BlackBriar says:

    Like you said, Highway, things started off a lot like an OVA and the scenes were much like those from an old anime movie. I’m amazed at how detailed the animated version of London was. Hearing the characters speak near perfect english was a huge plus for whoever is voicing them.

    While there’s nothing negative to say about this new series, I’m not inclined to continue following it. It’s just far too cute and innocent for my tastes to be honest and I’m rarely into that. It would have been a different case if it was a bit like Zettai Bouei Leviathan. Well, that’s one series officially off my list this season.

    • BlackBriar says:

      Maybe I’ll give this another shot. I was in for Tamayura so Kiniro deserves the same chance.

  3. HannoX says:

    While much of what was shown was the England that we imagine, it wasn’t just a fantasy England. I’ve been there twice in the last 10 years and saw countryside much like Shinobu saw from the train and row houses like the one Alice’s family had. In fact, I stayed with an English family whose row house seemed older than that.

    But they still had a computer and Internet service although they lived in a semi-rural area. So as pointed out the most unbelievable part of the show was that in the years since Shinobu and Alice hadn’t exchanged e-mails. Sending airmail letters in this day and age? Really? Sure, that was done so Alice’s arrival in Shinobu’s school would come as a surprise, but it just came off as an unrealistic gimmick.

    The art was very well done and fittingly evoked a pastoral feeling for the English countryside. While there was some odd pronunciation, the English was well done by the VAs. Kudos to them.

    So far this has all the earmarks of a relaxing, feel good show with the almost certainty of cross cultural humor of the gentle, not mocking or mean spirited, variety.

    • skylion says:

      I think it was important that they invoked and idealized, yet still within the realm, the country. It was a little vacation, so everything had to be, Just So. And since this is a tv program, It Is. Mood, rather than total believably.

      • Highway says:

        Yeah, I thought that the idyllic England trip was great. I mean, who gives a flip about someone who does a homestay in England and spends the time watching the television, emailing their friends at home, and playing PlayStation 3? It was much more atmospheric with them baking scones, having hobby horses, sinks with separate faucets, etc.

    • Highway says:

      Cool to know that there’s still that kind of countryside.

      The English lines were pretty good, I think the biggest issue was running words together when native English speakers wouldn’t. I don’t expect a lot of English in the rest of the show, tho, since both Alice and (I suppose) Karen know Japanese.

      • skylion says:

        English has some cruel tricks in it. When vowels and consents get together they love to slide around and have fun. Japanese, tends to keep vowels sounds very very straight and by the book. I see that, again, in the Engrish on display here.

  4. Liza says:

    I really loved the part in England. *_* Everything was so pretty and it reminded me of Ikoku Meiro no Croisée with the language barrier and culture shock. I loved the little cultural differences like Shinobu having to walk into the house with her shoes on and Alice noticing that Shinobu says, “Ikadakimasu” before she eats.

    • skylion says:

      Ah, thank you for recalling Ikoku for me, Liza. And for the right reasons. I loved that one to bits…

  5. Foshizzel says:

    I DIED OF CUTENESS OVERLOAD <3

    That aside this was an alright first episode even though the engrish had me laughing and I have to say out of all the shows so far the animation was lacking in this and the same can be said of Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku, but I am going to be watching both of them anyway…

    Shinobu’s english was MOOOOOOOOOOOEEEEEEEEEEE

    • Bonk says:

      Japanese girls are scaryyyy!(c)

    • skylion says:

      I almost died, but somehow managed to make it thru…

    • Liza says:

      HELLLOOOO!
      KONNICHWA!!
      HELLLLOOOOO!
      KONNICHWA!!
      XD

      • skylion says:

        I adored that part!

      • BlackBriar says:

        Those parts earned some facepalms but at the same time, some good heartfelt laughs.

    • BlackBriar says:

      I DIED OF CUTENESS OVERLOAD

      Then you must have revived because you’re alive right now to tell us all. :D

  6. S says:

    Great review! I really loved this episode too. Can’t wait to see more.

    I’ve been to England twice, and it does look very much like the intro. I was impressed that the trains and rural train stop looked just like the ones in England and the countryside is actually even better than we idealise it. They were quite lucky with the weather though, didn’t see any rain in the montage!

    The spoken English wasn’t too bad, but it sounded as if the voice actors were aiming for an American accent rather than an English one. Also Alice and her mother’s clothes were very unusual for modern Britain.

    • Highway says:

      Honestly, I think they were probably aiming for “Say the English right” rather than any particular accent.

    • Liza says:

      I agree with the look. I’ve been to England once and the city/countryside looked pretty accurate. As for rain, Shinobu did fall into a puddle so it did rain at one point, just off camera.

  7. Highway says:

    Looking at it again, I’m encouraged that the art didn’t really change much after the opening part. It still had the same softness, same drawing style, same style of backgrounds, just with slightly older looking girls. They did use some lower detail backgrounds (like the curtains in Shinobu’s house), but I was glad it kept the same look. Now we just need to see if the style of the activity of the show stays the same.

  8. JPNIgor says:

    England part remembered me of K-ON Movie TT.TT Too much nostalgia… And then I remember the song they made at the end and… Awww TT.TT Scrap it.

    It’s the first time I saw an english so well pronunciated as here. Did they use different VA for the same person talking different languages? I really hope not.

    • Highway says:

      As far as I have seen, no, they just had the same actresses do the English. Really, the only people who spoke both languages were Alice and her mother. I don’t know if Shinobu’s “Guts Pose!” really counts. :)

      • JPNIgor says:

        It coooounts \o/ just kiddin XP

        Well, the two of them were awesome.

  9. AllenAndArth says:

    cute level on infinity increase…but the show itself is “meh”

    • BlackBriar says:

      I felt the same way. Since it’s the first episode, there should be a slight change later on.

  10. Jrow says:

    Alice was sweet enough to give me diabetes via my TV screen.

    • skylion says:

      I’m suffering with you Jrow…

    • BlackBriar says:

      Sounds dangerous. Pace yourself, dude.

      • skylion says:

        I can suffer at OVER 9000!

        • BlackBriar says:

          Tough words but I see nothing to back them up.

          • skylion says:

            I’m still standing, BB. And whereas you have to test the kawaii waters, I dive in with no doubts….every single day!

            • BlackBriar says:

              Call it self preservation. Some jump into the deep end of the pool without water wings.

  11. austin says:

    Certainly with your considered.Thank you for the sharing.

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