Paradise Kiss Live Action Movie Recap
What can I say about Paradise Kiss? It was one of my manga addictions that didn’t cost a whole lot of money given that there was only 5 volumes in the entire series. It was a very interesting manga. There was a lot of heavier melodramatic happenings between George and Yukari that could get repetitive, but it remains a favorite. Probably because I really enjoy fashion design. Not that I am good at it at all. I also liked how this story had a more realistic ending, even it it was disappointing to me.
That being said, this movie adaptation did not disappoint and even gave me the ending that I really wanted. Although, I am a little sad that it didn’t quite follow the manga plot all the way. Considering the more risqué plot in the manga and the fact that this is a movie and not a drama, I expected a little bit more that wasn’t shown, but I don’t think the movie suffered from cutting that all out.
Yukari has spent her whole life studying and working hard. She isn’t stupid, but is not as smart as her mother would like. After failing to get into a prestigious elementary school, she worked hard to get into a prestigious high school. Instead of a more normal life, she is stuck in the rut of doing nothing but studying in order to retain her grades and please her mother. Then one day she encounters a strange group of people who demand that she become their model. Leery at first, Yukari is soon drawn into the world of fashion and is show a different life that helps her discover her own dreams.
Keiko Kitagawa as Hayasaka Yukari aka “Caroline”
The movie opens with the studios Hayasaka Yukari [Kitagawa Keiko]. She is busy studying hard while waiting to cross the street. As she waits, she recalls the scolding she received from her teacher. Why is she being scolded? Her grades are down and with her mock exam scores, there is little chance of her getting into the college of her choice. The light changes and she quickly crosses the street. We then learn how she took her first entrance exam at age 5. It was for a prestigious elementary school, but she failed. She was terrified that her mom would abandon her and thus she worked even harder and studied all of the time. Thus, she was able to get back her own and get into one of the top high schools. Of course, at that time her smart little brother started school and her mom focused all of her attention on him.
That happening made Yukari feel a little bit freer. When she entered high school, she experienced her first love with the popular Tokumori Hiroyuki. Of course, that love went unrequited for three years. They’re in the same class and the same cram school and always bump into each other, but nothing more ever happened as Yukari never confessed. One day when Hiroyuki was playing soccer, he notices Yukari with her cell [she was trying to take a sneak picture of him]. He comes over and Yukari says she ws just testing out her new phone. Hiroyuki then suggests that they take a picture together. Yukari is thrilled. the picture is taken successfully and she saves it as her wallpaper.
She happily looks at this picture before putting her cell away. Yukari is then approached by a tough looking guy, Arashi [Kaku Kento]. Yukari blows him off, but when she gets a look at his appearance, she apologizes and runs off. The guy quickly chases after her. Yukari screams for help and then trips. She falls into the arms of the cross-dressing Isabella [Igarashi Shinji – really, he’s so pretty in this]. Isabella asks what Arashi is doing and Arashi replies that she chased after Yukari so she wouldn’t outrun him. Yukari, tired from all that studying, then faints due to anemia. From that moment on, her boring life takes a drastic change.
When Yukari wakes up, she is in a strange room. Miwako [Oomasa Aya] asks if she’s okay. The surprised Yukari jumps up and Miwako says that she is happy the other girl is awake. They would have called a doctor, but figured Yukari was fine since she talked in her sleep. Yukari asks where she is and Miwako explains that Yukari is in their studio. They make clothes there while attending Yazawa Academy [nothing like paying homage to the manga author Ai Yazawa]. Yukari has heard of it. This pleases Miwako and Arashi until Yukari says that it’s a school famous for taking in idiots who hit on people from other schools. Arashi replies that he wasn’t hitting on Yukari, but scouting her. Their graduation show is in a month and they need a model.
This surprises Yukari, but she doesn’t even consider their offer. She tells them that she is too busy preparing for exams to waste time with them. She goes to leave when Miwako tells her to “Wait, Caroline!.” Yukari trips when she hears this and turns back to ask Miwako if she was talking to her. Miwako replies yes as they don’t know Yukari’s name yet. Yukari refuses to tell her name. She thanks them for their care and tries to leave once more. Arashi stops her this time and says that it isn’t a game to them, they are deadly serious about what they are doing. He tells Yukari to take back what she said and just say that she is sorry, but has no time. Yukari ignores this and tries to leave, but Arashi won’t let her. It’s at this point where George comes in [Mukai Osamu]. Yukari then notices George [still wish he had the blue hair – Mukai looks okay in a white wig, so why not blue hair?] who asks who Yukari is. Miwako says that Arashi scouted her. Yukari takes this chance to run away.
After Yukari leaves, George hangs up the dress her brought while Arashi complains that Yukari had the right looks to be their model, too bad she’s stupid. George then compliments on a tasty smell, but Isabella replies the food is not for him, but was a stamina stew for Yukari. George complains that Isabella won’t let him eat it, just like with the dresses Isabella wears [in the manga, Isabella is a very motherly figure and was notorious for getting her hands on George’s dresses and not giving them back].
The next day Yukari goes to school where she talks to Hiroyuki who sits adjacent to her.She asks him if ever met someone who was scary. Right from the start, you thought that person is scary and if he’s around he’ll wreck her life. George was like that to her. Why is he scary? Because you never know what he’ll do. That’s part of George’s charm. As Yukari is talking about this, George arrives at her school. How he knows exactly which classroom she is in given that he doesn’t know her name is interesting [in the manga she dropped her student handbook which had her ID, plus a picture of Hiroyuki in it, so that’s how he found her]. Granted, he knew which school she went to, but still… it makes you wonder.
George’s appearance causes an uproar. Shocked, Yukari quickly hides her head, but George spots her. He comes over and smiles at her saying that he came to apologize after hearing about how Arashi chased her down and she fainted. He makes her more uncomfortable when he leans down on her desk and asks for her name. The giggly girls in the back of the room supply him with her name and then asks if he’s her boyfriend. Ignoring the girls, Yukari asserts to her long-time crush Hiroyuki that George is definitely not her boyfriend. Yukari then jumps up and tells him to get lost. As she pushes him towards the door [yelling at him to not address her only by her first name], he smiles and grabs her hand telling her that they should go. He then proceeds to drag her out of school to his car.
Initially, Yukari is screaming for help yelling that George is going to rape her. George then points out that she was the one who got into his car. Yukari says that she just wasn’t thinking and he says that he will take her to a place where they can “do it.” This freaks her out more. George smiles and then floors it, effectively shutting Yukari up. They get to Yazawa Academy where poor Yukari is a little woozy from the ride. Yukari gets out to follow George and takes a good look around. She is in shock by what she sees the kids wearing and when she sees kids making out in broad daylight. Then up runs Miwako who gives “Caroline” a happy hug.
Miwako and Geoerge then take Caroline to see Seiji, a guest instructor at the school who is a professional makeup artist. Yukari complains about how he dresses and how the school just lets anyone in. Seiji comments on her critical attitude and George asks a favor. He wants Seiji to make Yukari over. If Yukari is going to be their model, she needs a new hairstyle. Yukari iterates that she will not be their model and George gets up in her face and says that she doesn’t know who she is. I think he’s got her pegged really well. Enter Kaori, George’s rival. The two tease each other. You can tell they have a friendly rivalry. Yukari returns to school with wavy hair and bangs. She is immediately teased by the girls in her class for skipping out to get a haircut. Yukari awkwardly goes to sit down when she sees Hiroyuki who comments on her hair. He thinks it suits her and is very pretty. Yukari is ecstatic. Yukari gets home and is immediately scolded by her mother for changing her hairstyle. If Yukari has that much time to waste, then she should be studying instead. Yukari asserts that she is studying and goes to her room.
The next day Yukari’s class gets another unexpected visitor. This time it is Isabella. The girls in the back yell at Yukari’s name and Isabella thanks them, saying that she already knows. She approaches Yukari and tells “Carrie” that George is requesting her presence once again. Yukari is not happy to hear this. Isabella then takes her to a fabric shop where the others are shopping for materials for the final dress. Miwako and Arashi then come up with different fabrics and Miwako comments about how much easier it is when the model is actually there with them.
Yukari tries to tell them once again that she isn’t their model. Miwako points out that she is there, isn’t she? And Arashi tells her to just quit complaining and say that she will do it already. Before the argument can continue, George comes over and drapes her in yellow. The new theme is sunflower. This excites the gang, but that is tampered with George’s statement “for now.” Arashi and Miwako turn to Isabella for help, but Isabella just goes along with George. Miwako and Arashi aren’t happy as George always changes things at the last minute.
After picking out the flower and deciding on a theme, the gang go back to the studio where they start preparing and George starts sketching. Miwako compliments George on the final design saying that it suits Caroline’s image perfectly. Arashi points out that she still hasn’t said she’d do it yet. Isabella replies that they can’t push anymore. Miwako says that she still believes that Caroline is perfect for their project. Given Yukari’s attitude, you know she’ll keep getting swept along regardless.
The next day Ykari is scolded by the teacher thanks to both George and Isabella showing up and taking her away two consecutive days in a row. He tells her that group of kids isn’t good for her and that she doesn’t know who she is yet. That really hits her hard. Poor Yukari. She goes up to the rooftop depressed and Hiroyuki is with her to cheer her up. He says that she should be used to scoldings by now. Way to cheer her up! Yukari says that she just isn’t the right girl yet. She then goes on to say how she thinks about life, too. She believes if that she has someone she likes who likes her in return, that would be enough. She could get strength from that and do her best. That’s all she needs. Hiroyuki says nothing, but looks at her in surprise. Yukari then calls him insensitive for not getting what she’s saying and then tells him that the more she is told not to, the more she wants to be with the gang.
After school, Yukari goes to the studio of her own volition. She hesitatingly goes down the steps and opens the door only to find Miwako and Arashi getting busy. Yukari then slams the door and meets Isabella who is coming back with groceries. Yukari tells her not to go inside when Miwako pops out, shirt unbuttoned, telling her it is okay now. Yukari points out that she can see Miwako’s chest and Isabella puts down the groceries to fix Miwako’s shirt. Yukari asks if Miwako is dating Arashi and Miwako replies that she is. It is Miwako’s job to do whatever it takes to tame Arashi’s desires. Arashi yells at her from inside to shut up and the girls outside start laughing. Then comes George. He gives Yukari a big smile.
Miwako takes Yukari into the back and takes her measurements. Yukari asks about the sign that says “Paradise Kiss.” Miwako then tells of their dream to start their own company. They have clothes in shops under consignment. If they do well and sell, that means the gang can stay together after graduation with their very own brand. Measurements done, Miwako and Yukari go back out with the others where Miwako hands over the sizes. This embarrasses Yukari who snatches the information from George who then tells her to try on the dress he brought when they first met. Yukari comes out with the dress on and it fits her like a glove. George seems in awe. Miwako mentions the dress being for his muse and Isabella explains that every designer has a muse – the one perfect woman – that inspires them.
Later George goes to take Yukari home. In the car, she tells him about failing her test and then working hard. Her life isn’t her own, she does whatever she can to please her mother and she still gets hit all of the time. George says nothing and just listens. When Yukari says that her upbringing made her full of fear and lacking in courage, Geroge speeds pass the road to her house. When asked where they are going, George replies to a love hotel. Yukari follows him in and then starts complaining. George tells her that he didn’t force her to come. He then pounces and they wrestle around on the bed. Just like in Ouran High School Host Club when Kyoya pounces on Haruhi, George has a lesson he wishes to teach Yukari. It was no one’s fault that Yukari walked in there. He then says that Yukari blames her mom for her lack of courage and asks Yukari just what is it that she wants to do. George doesn’t want a puppet, but a model. He is shocked when Yukari tells him to just do it. She hates him anyways and his clothes mean nothing to her. All of her will is in her school uniform that she worked so hard to wear. She is proud of her achievement in getting to wear it. She then pushes him off and runs out the door. Before she leaves, she declares that she will model for him. She left her bag on the dresser.
The next day Yukari can’t concentrate at all in class or un cram school. Hiroyuki notices this and asks if there’s something wrong. Yukari replies that there isn’t and he asks her out since he is sick of studying. Yukari turns him down as she doesn’t want him failing to be her fault. Hiroyuki gives he a big smile which she returns and then says that its her fault that he’s stuck there now. Back at the studio, Yukari’s phone rings an Miwako rushes to answer it. Arashi tells her not to, but she doesn’t listen. When she opens up the phone her smile fades as she see the picture of Yukari and Hiroyuki.
After the tutoring session finishes, Yukari goes to leave but then hides behind Hiroyuki when she sees George who just walks by. Hiroyuki calls out to him and tells him to leave Yukari alone or deal with him. Wow. Nice! You can definitely tell that little by little Hiroyuki is coming to return Yukari’s feelings. George just smiles and comes closer. Yukari rushes over to get between them, but then spots Miwako. This makes Hiroyuki turn and it is the same Miwako he knows.
The foursome then go to a restaurant where we learn Miwako’s history with Hiroyuki. Those two, along with Arashi, grew up together and lived in the same apartment complex. Both Hiroyuki and Arashi liked Miwako. Arashi sais that whoever left first forfeited the right to date her. Hiroyuki and his family moved out and he started attending his current school, thus he lost out on Miwako. Then Arashi started dating her and told Miwako that she wasn’t allowed to see Hiroyuki again. Hearing this surprises Yukari, but makes her realize why she went unnoticed by Hiroyuki for so long. It was because he had been holding on to his first love. Miwako then gives an invitation to the fashion show to Hiroyuki.
At home, Yukari’s mother comes into her room to say that since exams are approaching, she’s hired a tutor. So on top of school and cram school, Yukari will be tutored every night. Yukari has had enough. She explains about helping out George and the gang only to meet with her mother’s disapproval. So what does she do? Yukari runs away from home and skips school. This does not please the gang. Arashi wants her to go back home, but Miwako, Isabella, and George support Yukari in her decision. George even offers up a place for her to stay – his house.
Yukari goes to George’s house and is amazed to see how spacious it is. She always knew he was a rich kid. She goes to put her stuff away and then someone arrives. It is George’s parents. Learning that George has a female guest, his mom makes his dad leave. Yukari comes out and asks if they are his mom and dad. George replies he doesn’t have a mom and dad. Those two are just his birth parents. He’s the illegitimate son and his father only drops by every now and then when he feels like it. He then takes Yukari out for “housewarming soba.”
That night Yukari can’t sleep as she recalls what happened at the hotel. She locks the door, but then decides to leave the room and check on George who is sleeping peacefully. She leaves his room and goes back out into the living room. She looks at the view and George’s sketches thinking about what he told her about his family and what he said to her at the love hotel. Just what does she want?
The next morning Yukari wakes up and is startled to find George watching her. She had locked the door. George holds up a key and reminds her that he has one. George goes to school where he meets the gang. Arashi asks after Yukari and wonders if George tried anything. George just smiles brightly. This does not make Arashi happy. In the manga, Arashi has a temper, but he is really nice and worries a lot about Yukari as he knows George’s attitude when it comes to girls. George then says next on Yukari’s road to hell is finding her a job. Meanwhile, Yukari is looking for a job, but is disappointed to see almost everything requires a high school education. What good is going to a top school when you haven’t finished it yet?
George then seeks out Seiji and gets Yukari a job modeling. Yukari goes, but then says she can’t do it, but she eventually screws up the courage. She has a lot of fun when she starts relaxing and earns the approval of the other models and the people behind the shoot. While she does that, the gang are hard at work on the dress. After work, Yukari returns to Geroge’s place and shows him a polaroid she kept as a souvenir. George says that’s tacky, but the picture isn’t bad. George asked if she went to the shoot in her uniform and she replies she did because it gave her confidence. He then takes her to a room that contains everything he’s ever made. He can’t bare to part with a single piece. He keeps them all for the one special woman who will wear them. George tells Yukari about his genius being like her mother. He designs because he has no choice, just like Yukari studied.
That night while Yukari studies and George designs, Kaori and her crew come over. They talk and drink while Yukari is forced to make food when she doesn’t really know how. She asks George about the girls and George replies that he slept with them all save for Kaori. Yukari tells him she will keep an eye on the one he didn’t sleep with and George points out that he didn’t sleep with her either. Kaori then mentions the room full of dresses and George replies that drunk girls can’t go in. Kaori insists on going in, but Yukari stops her and drags her to the guest room. Kaori pouts as it wasn’t what she wanted to see. Yukari asks after their relationship and Kaori assures her that there is nothing between her and George. She then explains how she is always trying to keep up with his genius.
The next day George goes into the studio with a new design. With only days left and an almost finished design, he is changing the plan. The rest of the gang are horrified. Meanwhile, George’s father seeks out Seiji. He wishes to know how well his son will be able to do after graduation. Seiji talks of George’s brilliance, but if George goes out into the fashion world right after graduation, he will probably be crushed. Designing is like breathing for George and most designers can’t breathe freely. His father then decides that George should come work with him after graduation which does not make Seiji happy.
Bad news comes to the gang as the their clothes on consignment were returned. Nothing was sold. This means that Paradise Kiss will be breaking up. George informs Yukari that this dress is their final one as a group and that he will be heading to Paris after graduation. Hearing this, Yukari calls home and talks to her baby brother who scolds her for running away and making their mom sad. Mrs. Hayasaka has it rough tying to be both parents. Yukari tears up and says that her brother really is much smarter than she is. She then asks him to deliver a message to their mother. What could it be?
The day of the fashion show arrives and the gang still haven’t finished with everything quite yet. The nervous Yukari wishes to help, but George refuses the offer. Then comes the dress rehearsal call. It did not go well at all. Yukari walked stiffly like a robot. She was too nervous and just didn’t know what to do. Yukari then leaves to practice walking. She doesn’t really seem to be improving at all. Meanwhile Hiroyuki and her mother both arrive at the show.
Finally the time comes to get Yukari’s makeup on and to get her dressed. Yukari is very nervous and apologizes for not treating the situation seriously enough, especially since it is the last dress. George then gets angry and says that is nothing new. Yukari never takes anything seriously. She is only a pretend person. Isabella just says his name and the angry George gets up and leaves while Yukari cries. Isabella hands her a handkerchief and sits down to tell her a story. Isabella always felt that she was born in the wrong body, but forced herself to live as a male. Then she met George who gave her a dress. Ever since that day, she was reborn. Isabella believes that new dresses help give girls courage, so Yukari should out on this dress and be born again. I just love Isabella! From both the manga and this movie.
The show then begins. While the first models take the runway, Arashi and Miwako run into Hiroyuki outside. Arashi is not happy to see his old friend, but Hiroyuki assures Arashi that he is just there to support Yukari. Arashi and Miwako then join Isabella and they watch from the back. Then it is time for Yukari to go out there. She is still very nervous. George asks for her hand and places a butterfly ring on it. It is his wish that Yukari be just like a butterfly. Yukari gets told that it is her turn and George stops her. She doesn’t have to walk straight, she just needs to make the walk her own, to walk on her own feet. He will be there waiting for her. This gives her strength. She tells him that she will be fine. She may not be the best, but she will walk like no one else and take everyone in the hall up to paradise. Yukari then makes her entrance. Arashi prays that she just doesn’t trip and fall. I love the song they play for Yukaris turn! It really fits the entire situation well.
After she leaves the runway, George comes up behind her to hold her and loud cheers and applause can be heard. Was that for her? George then kisses her. Yukari resists at first, but then returns the kiss. Next comes the judging. Unfortunately, the gang loses out to Kaori and gets 2nd place. Yukari didn’t understand, what about all the cheering. Arashi replies that they didn’t cheer for the dress, but for the girl who was wearing it. Bummer. Arashi then tells Yukari that he hated her at first, but now he really likes her. About time he admits it.
After the show, Hiroyuki commiserates with the gang on their losing and George’s father leaves angry that his son lost. Hiroyuki asks what happens next and Arashi tells him not to worry. Arashi has found a job with an alumnus and Miwako, too. Arashi then says that he and Miwako will be together forever. Miwako then asks what Yukari’s and Hiroyuki’s plans are. They both say that they are taking entrance exams. This surprises everyone. Hiroyuki then tells Yukari that she has talent as a model and she is bowled over. Hiroyuki also tells her that no matter what she chooses, he will be there for her. George watches this all from a distance, not looking too happy. Yukari goes inside where her mother tells her to come home and that she will no longer try to run her daughter’s life and Yukari can do what she wants. About time.
Yukari goes back to George’s wear she packs all of her things. She looks around one last time before returning the key on the coffee table. George meets her on the way out and scolds her for leaving without saving goodbye. Yukari thanks him for all he’s done and goes to leave. George invites her out to dinner, but she declines. Why? Does she have a date? George then takes her shopping. He at first takes her to a classy boutique, but she doesn’t have the money. So they go to a cheaper store. George picks out an outfit for her and this entire time, Yukari looks totally unhappy.
Meanwhile, Miwako waits with the nervous Hiroyuki. He wants her to leave,but Miwako doesn’t want to. She wants to see the confession. She tells him not to worry as she knows Caroline likes him. Why? Because Caroline had an unrequited love for three years. This shocks Hiroyuki and Miwako teases him for being slow. He then tells her to leave once more. George takes Yukari to a place where he does her makeup. Yukari, after awhile, finally has enough and runs out. George follows behind her wondering what is wrong. How can he? How can he pick out clothes and do makeup for a date with another guy. If he’s going to behave like that, why did he kiss her in the first place. Yukari then tells him she wants to be a professional model. Yukari then asks if George thinks she can make it. He tells her that it isn’t talent, but desire. If she wants it she will get it. Nothing will happen unless she can believe in herself. George believes that Yukari will manage, but he won’t be around to hold her hand anymore. Will she be okay? Yukari says that she will be and then the two part ways.
Yukari then meets with Hiroyuki while Isabella goes to George’s to say that she is following him to Paris as she only wants to make patterns for his clothes. Isabella is worried about him, though. Will he be okay since he is leaving his one perfect woman? George goes off to Paris and Yukari gets a package with a note and key. She rushes to a warehouse to learn that George has left her his precious clothes. The clothes he was only going to give to his special woman. A great way to confess. He leaves her alone to go to Paris and then tells her his real feelings by leaving his most precious treasures to her. But it is inspiration to keep going and work hard on her dream.
We then fast-forward three years. Yukari is a successful and popular model. Her picture can be seen in ads and billboards everywhere. We then learn that Hiroyuki was rejected by her when he confessed. Totally different from the manga. In the manga, after five years, Yukari was a successful model, but she had hit a ceiling and could really only do well in Asia. She was also engaged to Hiroyuki who was in medical school or had already become a doctor. Not a bad ending to the manga, but I had hoped she would end up with George. Of course, this made the ending a little more realistic. Yukari works hard, but is lonely without George. She goes to New York for a fashion show and when it ends she explores the city. She ends up on Broadway where she sees a familiar style of dress on the poster [after she thinks she sees Isabella]. She checks out the names and sure enough the costumes were designed by George!
Yukari goes rushing after Isabella who tells her to save her tears for George. Isabella then gives away his studio address. Yukari rushes over only to find George not home. His studio is just like the one he used to have and is even filled with familiar items. Yukari goes over to his work table when a wind blows the designs about. Some escape outside and George picks one up just as Yukari closes the window. As she bends to pick up the mess inside, she knocks over a stack of magazines. Looks like George was keeping track of her career. Then up comes George and they hug each other and then kiss. End the movie.
While I was disappointed that it didn’t stay completely true to the manga, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. They cut out some of the more tedious aspects of Yukari’s insecurities, jealousies, and possessiveness of George. They also made this movie more friendly, cutting down on the perverted talk and sex scenes [there really weren’t any unless you count Arashi and Miwako fooling around.
I really did like the costume designs. They did a great job bringing Ai Yazawa’s work to life. I also enjoyed the characters. Mukai Osamu did an awesome job as George. He gave off that cool, mysterious vibe that was so prevalent in the manga. I think I almost liked Kitagawa’s portrayal of Yukari more so than the manga version. Probably because they watered down her personality more. And Oomasa captured the innocence of Miwako very well. I must say that I do like Kaku Kento’s Arashi, but I am not sure he suited the role as much as the others’ suited theirs. Oh, and Igarashi as Isabella? Totally awesome. Overall a great adaptation. I definitely recommend it. Especially as it does still have more of a realistic undertone and ending.