Sixteen year-old Sakurano Tazusa is a professional ice skater looking to secure that coveted spot as Japan’s representative at the 2006 Winter Olympics. Unfortunately, with a talented rival standing in her way, and her prideful attitude having made an enemy of the media, hopes are slim- and as if that wasn’t enough, she has to spend the next 100 days being possessed by Peet Pamps, the ghost of a sixteen year-old Canadian aviator. Nonetheless, Tazusa isn’t going to go down without a fight, and so it is that she begins to adjust to her strange situation, and even put it to her advantage.
I have to admit that I have a soft spot for most winter sports, and with ice skating being one of my favourites it was inevitable that I’d get around to watching this series eventually. To be honest, though, beyond the novelty of seeing animated figure skating, I wasn’t expecting a great deal from Ginban Kaleidoscope, and so it was that I ended up being pleasantly surprised.
I’ll start with the weakest first- the comedic side of the series, which revolves around the fact that Peet can sense everything that Tazusa does, is not overly funny. In fact, it’s everything you’d pretty much guess after first hearing about the concept- ranging from misunderstandings caused by Tazusa talking to a ghost that no one can else see, to her punishing Peet by eating the tomatoes he hates so much or figuring out how to get changed and go to the toilet without him seeing too much. Fortunately, most of the jokes aren’t dragged out long enough to overstay their welcome, and even the oft-referenced tomato issue evolves over the course of the series.
I’d be lying if I said the tomato humour was subtle.
It’s in the dramatic moments that the series really shines, following both Tazusa’s adventures on the ice and her dealings with the media. She’s a far from perfect character, but I have to admit I found myself genuinely caring about what happened to Tazusa, willing her to make a complicated jump on the ice without falling over, or to find a way to weather the venom of the press. Of course, it’s easy to predict how her skating career and relationship with Peet will develop overall, but it’s still interesting to see the specifics, and I have to admit this was the one time when I was hoping for a happy ending instead of my usual choice of a bittersweet and dramatic one (you’ll have to watch yourself to see which way it turned out).
Although it’s hardly unexpected given that it might have made the audience lose interest, there wasn’t as much ice skating as I would have liked to see- this is Tazusa’s story, and that means we focus on Tazusa’s routines at the expense of learning very much about the other skaters. Similarly, there isn’t enough time to develop the other supporting cast members, with some of their actions coming across as quite abrupt and unexpected.
Visually, Tazusa’s character design is my favourite, although all of the female characters and Peet are drawn in one of my preferred styles. The other men are typical generic fare, and unfortunately in later episodes the overall animation quality seems to take a turn for the worse. The music is not particularly memorable, with only the OP sticking in the mind after the media player is switched off.
Ice skating and the Winter Olympics attracted me to Ginban Kaleidoscope, but I ended up enjoying myself a lot more than I expected. If it can put a crack in even my heart of stone, it must have done something right.