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|Volume 1 DVD cover (release in 1999/2000)|
Yoshimasa Hiraike (Season 2)
|Network||TV Tokyo (Japan)|
|Original Run||April 4, 2003 - March 27, 2004|
|OVA: Kaleido Star: New Wings Extra Stage|
|Released||September 24, 2004|
|OVA: Legend of Phoenix ~Layla Hamilton Monogatari~|
|Released||December 11, 2005|
|OVA: Good day yo! Goood!!|
|Released||September 27, 2006|
Kaleido Star (カレイドスター Kareido Sutā) is an anime series produced by Japanese studio Gonzo Digimation Holding. The series was created by Junichi Sato, who also directed the first season, and written by Reiko Yoshida. Kaleido Star: New Wings was directed by Yoshimasa Hiraike.
Kaleido Star follows Sora Naegino, a Japanese young girl who comes to the United States to fulfill her dream: to perform at the world famous Kaleido Stage.
Sora Naegino, a young Japanese girl with a great talent for acrobatics, comes to America in hopes of auditioning for Kaleido Stage, a world famous circus which has mesmerized her since childhood. However, she runs into difficulties as soon as she arrives. She gets lost on her way to the Stage, is leered at by a mysterious stranger, and has her bag stolen by a thief. Employing her acrobatic skills, Sora chases down the criminal.
A kind police officer gives her a ride to Kaleido Stage, but she discovers that she's missed her audition. Her idol, the star performer Layla Hamilton, advises her to return to Japan but a performer's unexpected injury provides Sora with a window of opportunity. She's given the rare chance to perform by the Stage's owner, Kalos (who turns out to be a mysterious man who had eyed her legs earlier). After a faltering effort, Sora is dismissed from Kaleido Stage and prepares to return to Japan, but then Kalos reconsiders, and lets Layla know that someday Sora's performance will be the main draw at the circus.
Sora spends the beginning of the season as an outcast, as the other performers believe that she had relations with the director to gain her position. Layla is particularly cold towards her and sees her alternately as either an annoyance or a threat. With the help of her friends (stage manager Ken Robbins, the performers Mia Guillem and Anna Heart, and young Marion Benigni) as well as a lot of hard work and determination, Sora begins to earn the respect of those around her. Her incredible personality wins her a variety of friendships (including that of a baby seal named Johnathan!) as well as several increasingly major roles in the productions. Over time, she even manages to form a friendship with Layla.
However, things begin to go astray as Layla's father pressures her to leave and insiders plot to take over and shut down Kaleido Stage. Sora must rely on her winning personality, hard work, and close friendships to keep the stage afloat.
In the second season, Sora returns to the stage after attempting the Legendary Great Maneuver with Layla. This leaves Layla with an injured shoulder and unable to perform. The absence of her co-star, having retired to further a career in Broadway productions, prompts a slight decline of the Kaleido Stage. Because of this Kalos brings in a new recruit, Leon Oswald, a famous trapeze artist. It seems at first that Leon is reminded very much of someone due to Sora's presence, and at times this causes him to either be really rude or really sweet to Sora.
Despite this, however, Leon does not accept Sora as worthy of being on the stage with him. This leads to the most talented of the new Kaleido Stage recruits, May Wong, who is also an ex-figure skater, to question and challenge Sora's position as Leon's partner and star of the show.
Sora's first goal in the season is to attend the Circus Festival in Paris, but the competitors will do anything to attain the title of 'festival winner': betray, deceive, or even attack their opposers. The atmosphere and attitude this creates does not mix well to Sora's carefree, optimistic, ultra-idealistic outlook. It, in turn, causes her to withdraw from the competition in the middle of her performance of the Angel's Maneuver with the redeemed Yuri Killian, leaving friends, family and, worst of all, Layla confused and otherwise disappointed with Sora.
Most of the season concentrates on Sora finding, questioning, and pursuing new dreams. After many trials and rejections, Sora aims to become a "True Kaleido Star" while creating a fun, conflict-free stage, the complete opposite of what she experiences at the festival in Paris.
The first OVA looks at a new production in the works that follows the Kaleido Stage's success with Swan Lake, about a female princess that is unable to smile and a jester of hers that is hoping to bring her smile back. The idea for the production came to Mia from a painting that featured a character that looked very similar to Rosetta and a jester in the background that looked surprisingly like Fool, the stage spirit that can be seen only by very talented students.
Rosetta is assigned the lead role as the princess. Unfortunately, despite the likeliness of her being able to comprehend the role fully as she herself never carried a smile when she first came to Kaleido Stage, she has difficulties acting out the part and leaves the rehearsals mid-way frustrated. Will Rosetta be able to play the role right? What ties does Fool have with the painting of the princess and the jester?
Layla and Sora are about to launch different interpretations of the same show "Legend of Phoenix" on opposite coasts. Layla is preparing at the Broadway but is dissatisfied with her performance. She feels that she cannot perform the role properly if she is not truly reborn as a new Layla Hamilton. In a desperate attempt to be reborn, Layla runs off on a solo bicycle trip to upstate New York in hopes of rediscovering herself.
Meanwhile, Sora is also attempting to find her own Phoenix, but when she learns of Layla's disappearance she, Ken and May run off to New York to find the former Kaleido Star who at that instant was on a bike journey with no set destination.
Layla meets various strangers and reminisces memories of her childhood along the way as she thinks of how she can change herself. But while she tries to find a new self, she spends her entire time alone thinking about Sora until she comes to realize just how much Sora has been a muse to her. Once she realizes that, she is reborn. The nature of this revelation, though speculated in different ways by various fans, is up to interpretation. During the end credits, we are shown two different Phoenixes.
Good day yo! Goood!! is a 22 minutes OVA that is rendered by computer graphics. All of the characters are presented in a CG art style. The OVA is split up into three parts. The first part is a lesson in Chinese cooking presented by May Wong; the dish that is presented is mapo doufu. The second part is a lesson on how to use the diabolo by Rosetta Passel. The final part is a lesson in seal lingo presented by Marion Benigni and Johnathan to Sora.
- Sora Naegino
- Anna Heart
- Mia Guillem
- Rosetta Passel
- Layla Hamilton
- May Wong
- Leon Oswald
- Sophie Oswald
- Yuri Killian
- Ken Robbins
- Marion Benigni
- List of Major Secondary Characters
- List of Minor Characters
- Theatrical Camp
3. "Tattoo Kiss" by r.o.r/s (eps 27–51)
- Lyrics: Mizue
- Music: Dream Field
- Arrangement: Keiji Tanabe
- Lyrics: Yuki Matsuura
- Music: Mina Kubota
- Arrangement: Yuki Matsuura
- Lyrics: Mizue
- Music: Keiji Tanabe
- Arrangement: Kenji Tanabe
4. "Yakusoku no basho e" (約束の場所へ) by Chihiro YonekurawithKaleido Stars (ep 51) 5. "Tattoo Kiss" by r.o.r/s (The Amazing Princess Without a SmileOVA) 6. "Golden Phoenix ~Nando demo~" (Golden Phoenix ~何度でも~) by Sayaka Ōhara (Legend of Phoenix ~Layla Hamilton Monogatari~ OVA)
1. "Ray of Light" by Layla Hamilton (Sayaka Ōhara) (ep 50)
A manga entitled Kaleido Star ~Wings of the Future~  began serialization in Shōnen Fang's April issue and was released on February 19, 2007. The story takes place fifteen years after the events of the anime series and it revolves around Sora's younger sister, Yume. Because Sora has not visited her family in years for reasons unknown, Yume joins Kaleido Stage in hopes to meet her.
Serialization in Shōnen Fang magazine ended in September 2007 when the magazine went defunct.
Kaleido Star was generally well received by critics, with the majority of acclaim paid to the first season.
In a review of the first Volume, Anime News Network called the series "heartwarming fluff without too many sugar calories" and praised the Japanese voice cast for stellar performances, with particular emphasis on Ryo Hirohashi and Takehito Koyasu. Anime On DVD also noted Koyasu's performance, the quality of the animation in the performance scenes, and the fulfilling climax of the final episode. Underland Online noted Kaleido Star as being "...an extraordinary series is in a class all its own."
Despite being put off by the recap episodes, Anime New Network positively reviewed the first Volume of Kaleido Star: New Wings. While critiquing the story as "straight from the shōjo drama playbook," the review held praise for the visuals, stating that "the best thing about Kaleido Star is, far and away, the amazing animation and production values. The circus scenes are wildly original and sometimes breathtaking; the animation quality hasn't dipped at all in the second season." Cynthia Martinez also won notice for developing her performance as Sora. Anime Advanced also looked at the first volume and praised it highly, noting that "Kaleido Star gets my highest possible recommendation. This is a show that dreams are made of."
Summing up the series, Chris Beveridge of Anime On DVD said that "Kaleido Star has been a great series overall with a somewhat weak second season that really took its time to find its own voice," but that "it's still a series that's very easy to recommend on a whole and one that is very much worth showing to a younger audience." ActiveAnime's Holly Ellingwood commented that "The finale is climatic and fulfilling." and summarized the series as being "An anime that is a pure joy to watch. Exhilarating, Kaleido Star is a stirring series that is both inspirational and remarkable."
Anime On DVD proclaimed the OVA to be "a beautiful piece of work and the best way to close out things for a while as it is much more oriented on the comedy and the lighter side of the characters... It's a great little self contained story that plays strong in a similar fashion to the last episode of the series but without quite so much angst and hardship associated with it. It leaves you laughing and really smiling at the end of the disc."
- The first episode of the English adaptation appeared on the January 2004 edition of Newtype magazine.
- Luci Christian voices both Sarah and Kate in the English speaking version. She stated in an interview that when this occurs that "voice patterns can really set your voices apart".
- Japanese circus performer Dio Kobayashi is credited as a special adviser.
- North America