Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic

Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic

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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.

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Kinmoza
is back for a second season of Alice, Shinobu, Karen, Aya and Yuko going to school together and getting into their usual mild, schoolgirl hijinks. Shinobu is still obsessed with European culture and is determined to become an interpreter despite her lack of ability to speak English. Alice is still in love with everything Japanese, despite her increasing homesickness for The Cotswolds, Karen is still the life and soul and Aya and Yuko are still the same amusing double-act.

The second season continues to be adorable, entertaining and pleasing to the eye. Between their studies and their socialising we experience the group’s idyllic everyday life: shopping, going to the beach, participating in a trading quest (The Straw Millionaire style) and watching Yoko attempt a parfait challenge. Though these scenarios seem quite trivial, they help provide more depth and context to the main focus: the strength of friendship. Though this is hardly new ground attempted by slice-of-life anime, there is definitely something special here.

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To avoid things getting stale this time around, the friendship circle becomes extended and we are privy to a larger cast. New supporting characters include fellow schoolmate Honoka and schoolteacher Kuzehashi-sensei, allowing for new interactions and character dimensions, leading the main cast into fresh situations.

Sometimes slice-of-life anime struggles with second seasons due to their overall lack of objective plot points. Watching characters just have fun, going on about their everyday life is a difficult thing to stretch out unnecessarily. However, Hello!! Kinmoza does a good job of transforming the mundane into the extraordinary, capitalising on endearing the cast of characters to the audience and making them generally interested in their lives and their situational comedy, making you think “Oh, that’s classic Karen” and “I wonder what Aya will make of this”. It successfully taps into the viewer’s penchant for ‘cute characters doing cute things’ and ramps it up to maximum. And this is just what I would expect from a good slice-of-life anime – using what you’ve got to get ahead! It gives the audience what it wants.

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We still have the cute snapshot-esque skits that are reminiscent of the 4-panel manga that is at this anime’s origins. There is less of a focus on the differing cultures between Japan and England, though they still do crop up occasionally, such as Alice struggling to order properly in a Japanese fast food restaurant – showing that being book-smart about a country doesn’t necessarily mean you have everything figured out. Shinobu still daydreams about having blonde hair and maintains her tendency for dressing up in traditional Victorian fashion just to go on a day out. This is something that has become key for Kinmoza and what gives it that specialness. It’s no longer such a main focus of the plot, but the odd reference continues to make the characters endearing.

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Karen is still her excitable and boisterous self, speaking her broken and heavily-accented Japanese. Alice and Shinobu and Aya and Yoko are two ‘pairings’ that she establishes connections with, and it is mainly through her that new characters are invited into the group. It is Karen that has the strongest friendship with Honoka and her excitable nature is what gets Kuzehashi-sensei chasing after her for one reason or another. We see a lot more of her in this season and she really completes the group dynamic.

The season still maintains the things that I enjoyed about the first season. The expressive eyes and adorable hairstyles of the characters still contribute to their highly moe feel, especially with their chibi forms and how they blush (particularly Aya and Alice). It also maintains the colourless comic segment in the ‘next episode’ preview at the end, which is a nice hat-tip to Yui Hara and captures the authenticity of Kinmoza‘s origins.

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The English dialogue, however, did begin to bother me. What started off as endearing and amusing in the first season did sort of lose its charm. With Alice and Karen taking  trip back to The Cotswolds this season, there was a lot more extended dialogue in English. Hearing a very English family speak to one another in accented Japanese didn’t seem quite right. Whilst I was impressed overall by the care taken by interpreters and the voice actors, it did make the scenes in England a little hard to believe. The longer the scenes were, the more difficult it was to watch them how production intended.

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On the whole, though, I’ve really enjoyed my time with the Kinmoza cast. They brought vibrance and longevity to a genre not particularly known for those elements. Every episode was spirited and lively and always played to each character’s strengths to make interactions unique. The mix of friendship-themed situational comedy and tender moments never became tired or stale and I’m going to miss immersing myself in its cuteness and simplicity. It was an easy-watch anime that never failed to put a smile on my face.