Ginban Kaleidoscope

August 12, 2006

Do you think that ice skating and the supernatural could really go hand in hand? Of course, if it’s Ginban Kaleidoscope, that is. Okay, maybe the term supernatural doesn’t mean really scary or the horror type. Plus, this anime is more of the sports type with some elements of comedy and romance in it.
 
So to start things off, let me introduce first the main character, Sakurano Tazusa. She’s the kind of girl where it’s ‘a rose with a million thorns’. Yup, don’t be fooled by her beautiful and pretty appearance. Because deep down she’s quite an obnoxious, arrogant and selfish 16 year old. Plus she consider herself to be the $10 billion dollar face. Perasan betul. So you’ve already guessed it by now that she’s quite a talented and aspiring ice figure skater. At first looks she looks like quite a good figure skater, considering her age and the fact that she has to juggle her school life as well (though, academically I’m not really sure).
 
So where does the supernatural part fit in? Well, as we can see in episode 1, Sakurano is currently doing one of her performance in Canada during the Women’s Figure Skating Grand Prix. Simutaneously, we’re shown of some cool manoeuvres being pulled off by some aviator, also somewhere in Canada. Just as fate would have it, Sakurano stumbled in one of her moves and falls quite badly. And at the same time, that airplane had some engine malfunction and crashes. Nobody could’ve survive such crash.
 
Back to the ice skating ring. After the performance, Sakurano crossed path with an American skater, Dominique Miller (who looks a bit like Carrera of Karin). And from the looks of it, Dominique too is one of those cocky and arrogant types. She was insulting and mocking Sakurano. But the bad thing (or a good thing if you look at it that way) is, Sakurano doesn’t understand a single word of English. However, she felt that the conversation isn’t a good one. Suddenly, out of the blue, some voice in her head keeps asking her to reply "Kiss my ass!". Of course, Sakurano thought she might be hearing things and just said that to Dominique, who then felt shocked and walked away.
 
So the next day, she kept hearing that same voice over and over again. Is she going crazy? Not until she shouted "SHUT UP!!!" intended for the voice in her head, only to be directed to some nun in her school. Oh no, beginning of a series of misunderstandings. Embarrassed? Who wouldn’t. After getting some ‘lecturing’ from that nun, she proceed to the toilet and starts shouting at that inner voice.
 
So it’s this part that we know that the inner voice is actually Pete Pamps (looks a bit like Joey Wheeler of Yugioh), the pilot who died earlier on in that fatal plane crash. So why is he possessing Sakurano? Well, we here some story from Pete saying that as he approaches Heaven’s Door, God couldn’t allow him to enter just yet. And he can only do so after 100 days. Why? Donno. Not explained too. So God drops him down right back to Earth. Only thing is, he landed in Sakurano’s body, the exact time when she slipped too. Talk about coincidence.
 
And at home, Sakurano tries a series of excorsism methods, but to no avail. Yeah, he just couldn’t leave. But the thing is, Pete doesn’t have any control over Sakurano’s body. Meaning that, whatever Sakurano does, sees or feels, Pete will also do, see or feel the same thing (whether he likes it or not). And he’ll lose conscious everytime when she goes to sleep. This is gotta be real hell! Of course, with this, Sakurano uses this as some ‘torturing device’ too. So it’s quite funny the part especially where she needs to go to the bathroom blindfolded!
 
So you’ll be seeing a lot of bickering between the 2. So in episode 2, Sakurano still can’t believe that she’s being possessed. Of course, shouting and yelling to herself in the morning with her coach, Takashima, and her little sister, Youko, watching in disbelief. Always thinking that the stress of the tournament may have got to her head. Thus, they try their best to put up with her ‘mood swing’. Another misunderstanding (for the sake of convenience, let’s call such situation where Sakurano scolds Pete but somebody else thinks it’s him/her who she’s scolding, misunderstanding, ok). But who’d believe you if you said you’re suddenly being possessed by some Canadian ghost, right?
 
By the way, since Sakurano is the only person who can hear (I’m not sure if she could really see him, though when they show Pete is for the viewers’ convenience) him, throughout the series nobody knows the existence of Pete. Yeah, for such a main character it’s kinda ironic.
 
In this episode too, we’ll get to know that Pete really hates tomatoes. Yup, he really does. So another torture device Sakurano can use (and she’ll use it often!) whenever she doesn’t like what Pete says. So bad. Also we get to know that Sakurano has a really bad reputation with the media. Yeah, the media doesn’t seem to like her and always blaming and portraying her as a scapegoat. Why? Somehing to do with some very important tournament where some another terror national figure skater, Shitou Kyoko, injured herself. Thus, Sakurano had to carry the burden of her country and as her replacement. The country expected her to get 1st place, instead, she ended up in a disappointing 17th. I guess that’s why Sakurano’s cold character too. Can’t blame her entirely.
 
To make things worse, some superviser of some figure skating body, a seemingly elderly and cold Yukie Mishiro, always seem to be sarcastic towards Sakurano. Plus, Sakurano doesn’t really like her that much either, and nicknames her ‘Nasty’ or ‘Sarcastic The Third’, something like that.
 
At the end of the episode, we see that a freelance reporter, Kazuya Nitta, seemingly arranges a meeting between Sakurano and her arch-rival Shitou at a hotel. I don’t remember much why he’s doing so, but unlike the other reporters, he’s quite different from the rest in the sense that he doesn’t want to blame or accuse Sakurano. I think the meeting was something like trying to mend their differences kinda thing and for the future of Japan’s figure skating. I think.
 
In episode 3, Sakurano has her hands full. She’s got her school final exams to deal with, her upcoming skating competition, and Pete. So we’ll see her practising some terror spin of hers but she always ended up falling. At this point, you’ll know that Pete seems to be the nice guy, and the rational and calm voice of reasoning. Yeah, he does give words of encouragement to Sakurano and slowly throughout the series, you’ll see how he changes her. Also, one thing I’d like to note is that, most of the international skaters have that ‘Japanese Anime Girl’ look. I mean, for instance, that Russian skater, Lia Garnet, doesn’t look like a Russian but so ‘Japanese Anime Girl’ look. I didn’t even think she was from Russia in the first place.
 
Nothing much in episode 4 as Pete gives more words of encouragement to help Sakurano win a place in the Olympic team. Because of Japan’s dismal performance, their representives has been cut from 2 to 1. Yup, and her main rival for that lone spot is no other than Shitou. Plus, more of Sakurano’s jump spinning move and failing at it. At this point too, there’re quite a number of ice figure skating terms for the moves which I couldn’t remember. I was like going, "Er… What was that move called again?" and "Is that move called that?". But most of the time is the usual "Huh?". Oh, and some more misunderstandings too.
 
I like the funny part where Sakurano as usual is scolding Pete but at the same time her classmate and best pal, Miki, just happen to walk pass by and is shocked to hear those words by Sakurano, as though it was directed to her. Then she’d just run away and say something and Sakurano would go like ‘no, wait it’s a mistake’. Poor girl. But so funny lah.
 
Just like in the previous episode, episode 5 too isn’t anything that much. Sakurano takes a break from her practice and goes out on a ‘date’ with Pete. Well, can’t call it a date if you’re seemingly alone. But anyway, for once, she does the things that Pete likes, such as eating steak and reading books on aviation. Plus, I think this episode brings those 2 a little closer to understanding each other, don’t you think?
 
In episode 6, with the help of Pete, Sakurano comes up with an entirely new skating programme, much to her coach and little sister’s delight. That’s because, she found out that one of her rivals is going to use the same skating programme as well. Don’t want to cause the wrath of the media again at a point like this. So we get to see her new programme in episode 7. It’s a cafe-themed programme. And Sakurano’s outfit’s like a waitress. With that jazz like background music, and that fun and light-hearted comical performance, I must say that it’s kinda interesting too. This of course very much impressed the judges and Mishiro as well, at the same time pressuring other skaters after her especially Shitou. And then when it’s Shitou’s turn to perform, she fell. Oh no, this could be bad for her. Yup it does, Sakurano gets chosen for the Olympic team.
 
I really hate those evil ^&#$*@ reporters! Uh-huh, in episode 8, those bad reporters decided to bring down Sakurano’s confidence and pride by staging some mock press conference. Yeah, they’re asking questions which somehow doesn’t really relate to ice skating like her relationship with her coach, Takashima, since she’s living under the same roof as him. Plus, something about her parents, which nearly breaks down Sakurano. But luckily Pete is there to help her. And another lucky thing is that Kazuya manage to sneak in and ask the right questions in favour of Sakurano. Way to go Kazuya!
 
And before you know it, she’d be answering back with style (and confidently filled sarcasm and wit) questions right back at those bad reporter’s face. Hahaha, serves them right. Their plan backfired. And in the end, their scheme was unravelled by Kazuya and they’re finally put out of commission. Good for them too.
 
Since now that it’s confirmed that Sakurano will be Japan’s representative, a swarm of reporters are swarming over her coach’s house waiting for her comments. Just then, Kazuya managed to whisk her away from the frenzy back to her place. So there’re times where Sakurano had wild imagination and thoughts of her ‘abduction’ that Kazuya might actually make a move on her. Why wouldn’t she? They’re back at Kazuya’s apartment. But rest assured that it isn’t so. See, Kazuya’s a really good guy.
 
So the cat’s out of the bag when Sakurano accidentily bumps into Kazuya making him drop photo albums. Well, the pictures in the album aren’t her, but Shitou! My my, this guy has a crush on Shitou. Because Sakurano still felt indebted to what Kazuya did earlier on at that mock press conference, she’d be willing to give him a free interview in time to come. Hmm… He’s writing a book called Ginban Kaleidoscope but it’s only partially filled.
 
In episode 10, Sakurano realizes that the day of the Olympics at Torino is exactly the same day Pete will leave her body. Oh my, now she feels reluctant for Pete to leave her. Same for Pete too. But Pete’s always being positive and looking at the bright side of things. But she’s still down and can’t concentrate. Eventhough Pete tries to talk to her about the Olympics rather than his departure. There’s a lot of emotional talking (at least I felt sad) about her wanting to let Pete do what he wishes during his final days, but Pete turns down. I guess she’s really gotten used to him and his presence by now. But just before the episode end, Pete wished for Sakurano to kiss him.
 
But she pulled that one back at the start of episode 11, saying  something that he doesn’t have a physical body so she can’t really kiss him. Yeah, it would be insane too if someone saw her trying to kiss the air. Wierd. So off she goes to Torino. But before that, she bumped into Shitou who now gives her full support for Sakurano. Ganbaru ne! At Torino she’s really an unknown, but the press there seemed nicer.
 
Then I don’t get this Olympic short programme. I wonder what’s it’s significance, held just a day before the real thing. Is it some sort of practice? But why are there judges to judge their performances? But anyway, Sakurano is set to be the first one. But she didn’t feel any pressure as she mentioned that as the first skater, the judges won’t have any previous skater to compare her with. She manage to perform her cafe-themed skating performance blowing away the judges. I think she got a podium finish. Can’t remember was it 1st or second place. But that night Sakurano had trouble sleeping not because of tomorrow’s event but for Pete. Haih… this girl. And as usual Pete was there to comfort her.
 
So the final episode, instead of performing for her future career, Sakurano performs for Pete’s last flight. Yeah, during the performance, it was as though they were flying through the clouds. I kinda like this part. Although the results showed that Sakurano didn’t win a medal, as she got 4th place (Lia won the gold), she wasn’t bitterly disappointed. Wow, she’s really changed.
 
The thing is, I didn’t really like the ending. I was bitterly disappointed. After the results, Sakurano went over to some frozen lake and have a final chat with Pete before he goes away forever. Something like don’t go, I don’t care if you possess me forever. But Pete had no regrets and accepted his fate and felt it was a good thing that he met her. And as Sakurano wanted to say one last word to Pete, he disappears. "I love you, Pete", she finally confessed. Whops… A second too late. I’m having goosebumps now.
 
So the disappointing part was that I though there’d be some explanation why was Pete excluded from Heaven for 100 days. It’s really a mystery. And maybe I expected too much too. I was hoping Sakurano and Pete would eventually get together again. In the sense that I thought Pete may be lying in coma somewhere and when his spirit disappeared from Sakurano’s body, he’d be awaken. Didn’t. SO DISAPPOINTING LAH!!!
 
In the end, we see what happened to the other characters. Coach Takashima married his long time lover, Hitomi. Yuuko has a boyfriend. Miki is now seemingly designing some new costumes. Kazuya taking photos of Shitou as she practices under the watchful eye of Mishiro. And as Sakurano walks by she notices a plane flying overhead. She just looked up and smiled. The end.
 
Overall, the whole story mainly focus on the relationship between Sakurano and Pete and how the latter changed the former. I really enjoyed this anime and sometimes I have that heart warming feeling especially in those last few episodes. I’m glad that Sakurano’s a better person now. And I’ve also learned and realized a few lessons in life here from Pete’s optimism. But the ending ah… How I wish it didn’t turn out that way.