Kiniro Mosaic

Kiniro Mosaic

Shinobu Omiya is part of a home-stay programme and she goes to The Cotswolds to live with an English family. She meets Alice Cartalet, a shy little girl, but Shinobu is determined to become friends with her, even though neither of them knows much of the other’s language, and the two grow very close. A few years later Shinobu receives a letter from Alice, saying that she is going to be attending her school in Japan. Shinobu is ecstatic, and now Alice lives with her and attends a Japanese high school along with her other friends. Now the two are always together in a small group of friends having fun.

Kinmoza is a group of girls enjoying their high school life – doing normal activities and getting into your usual schoolgirl mischief. What sets this anime apart from the usual 4-panel schoolgirl slice-of-life anime is that Shinobu, a Japanese girl, is obsessed with European culture and Alice, who comes from England, loves traditional Japanese culture. It’s very charming and quite unique from anything I’ve seen before.

The first episode was really lovely, highlighting Shinobu’s experience in England when she was younger, knowing very little English but being enthusiastic all the same. We see how the friendship between Shinobu and Alice began and really sets the relaxing tone of the anime at the same time. Despite this fresh element being added, the show still has the familiar ‘4-panel manga’ format of being comprised of small skits. It’s when Shinobu returns to Japan and begins high school a few years later that the plot really commences.

A main focus of the skits is the differing cultures between Japan and England through the different perspectives of five girls. Though this is by no means an anime which tries to teach the audience, I felt that I really learned a few things. It’s fun to watch Alice join in on traditional Japanese things because of how book-smart she is about them, but has very little actual experience. She over-generalises Japanese festivals and is surprised when she realises shrine festivals aren’t the same as school festivals. On the other end of the stick is Shinobu, who is borderline obsessed with everything English. She daydreams about having blonde hair and loves to try on Victorian gowns. But both of the girls’ interpretations of the other’s cultures are very endearing whilst having a light-hearted approach to some accurate perceptions of cultural mentality.

I really enjoyed the characters and they do a lot to keep the plot moving. Shinobu is a typical air-headed character doing cute things in a cute show. She loves blonde hair and clings to Alice in a very adorable way. Alice is small for her age and looks very European. She has a tiny voice and is even cute when she is angry. Most of the skits surrounding them focus on the great bond that they have, getting jealous of the other people sharing their time and hugging each other – a lot. We also have Yoko and Aya, who are a tomboy and a girly-type tsundere respectively. There are a lot of skits that also focus on these two and their close relationship with a use of flashbacks and the kind of dialogue the two of them had as childhood friends. We also have loud and energetic Karen, who is half Japanese and speaks in very endearing broken Japanese with a strong accent. She too comes from England and really rounds off the group. It’s her interaction with the two ‘pairings’ of Shinobu/Alice and Yoko/Aya that makes the story so dynamic as she is such a fun character with a vibrant personality.

The character design in Kinmoza is really special. The characters aren’t particularly detailed but they have expressive eyes, round features and adorable hairstyles that all contribute to their general moe-ness. With the added touch of the girls all having varying skin tones with tints of blush about their faces gives them that extra chibi innocence – especially when they have an extreme emotion and their facial features resort to more basic and comical lines.

The approach to English dialogues are both endearing and amusing. Most shows have characters with awkward Japanese accents speaking English, but Kinmoza is a bit more mindful about things like inflection and pronunciation that made the English seem more realistic, which is a little detail that I appreciate and gives this anime its own special quality. The anime also does a segment in the next episode preview. They would present a four panel scene complete with Yui Hara’s, the manga-ka, actual design and a colorless panel. It has a little bit of animation but it captured the authenticity of the four panel manga.

Whilst your typical slice-of-life anime on the surface, Kinmoza has a vibrant and engaging cast that brings substance and longevity to what was originally a manga full of small skits. These skits are always well-executed and the jokes never become stale or repetitive. If you enjoy a show of interesting characters finding  amusement and friendship in everyday life than this show is definitely worth a watch. It’s a laid-back anime that’s both cute and fun, and I would definitely recommend it.