“In England, we have such good manners that if someone says something impolite, the police will get involved.” —Russell Brand
I’m now ready for Hello! Kiniro Mosaic, having officially finished the first season of Kiniro Mosaic. This anime thus joins the ranks of GochiUsa, Non Non Biyori, SoniAni, Tamayura and K-On! as Iyashike in my library, and when mentioned, I will remember this one for the unique sort of jokes that arise from Alice and Shinobu’s love for Japanese and English cultures, respectively. Alice quickly becomes accustomed to life in Japan with Shinobu, Aya and Yoko. Karen Kugo, Alice’s friend from England, also transfers to Shinobu and Alice’s school in the neighbouring class. After acclimatising to her new class and making new friends, Karen joins the others in sharing coursework and summer vacation, as well as a school culture festival and Christmas, together. As the series rolls to a end, the girls’ second year begins, and although they’re in different classes now, Shinobu reassures Alice that they’re still close togther.
Kiniro Mosaic tells a story about cultural differences, the perspective that people gain when they see aspects from said cultures, and that friendship is sufficient to transcend these differences. Kiniro Mosaic specifically deals with English and Japanese culture: Alice takes a great interest to all things Japanese, while Shinobu loves every aspect of British English culture. Their mutual respect and interest in the other’s background means that the two get along swimmingly, and are closer than any of the other characters in the series. While their friendship is close, Alice and Shinobu do not steal the spotlight from the other characters; whether it be Yoko’s forward, cheerful mannerisms, Aya’s shy, tsundere-like tendencies or Karen’s boisterous presence, the unique combinations of personality allow for everyone to share the spotlight and have a solid contribution to the atmosphere for whatever they find themselves doing. Anime of the present tend to rely on familiar character archetypes, but by mixing up the different archetypes together, Kiniro Mosaic is able to capitalise on everyone to produce an endearing comedy.
Screenshots and Commentary
- My killstreak for posts ended with the Spring 2015 anime preview: I posted on five consecutive days, but now that Reading Week’s over, it’s time to get back to work. Shortly after arriving in Japan, Alice brought along a Japanese-style doll and tried to find Shinobu by asking for a girl who looked like said doll.
- Shinobu is wont to wear some rather unusual outfits on her outings with friends, which take the form of the Gothic Lolita style.
- Karen is introduced in episode three and speaks in broken Japanese with a rambunctious manner reminiscent of Kantai Collection‘s Kongou (this isn’t surprising, since they share the same voice actor). If we have to nit-pick about the English in Kiniro Mosaic, I’d say that Alice and Karen are lacking the British English accents. I personally find British, Scottish and Australian English to sound infinitely better than American/Canadian English; the latter sounds a little flat.
- The oil-paper umbrella originates from China, entering Korea and then Japan during the Asuka period. Known as wagasa, these umbrellas became popular during the Edo period, and were ornately decorated with period art. They are associated with Japanese culture, with different colours being used by different customers (e.g. Geisha, dancers and actors use purple, pink and black umbrellas, respectively).
- Isami is Shinobu’s older sister and is a fashion model who worries about Shinobu’s careless and absent-minded tendencies. She’s particularly fond of taking photographs of Shinobu and her friends.
- Aya and GochiUsa‘s Rize are very nearly identical in terms of appearance, and as the Kiniro Mosaic manga predates the GochiUsa manga by nine months, one might suppose that Rize’s physical appearance was inspired by Aya’s. Crossover artwork frequently depict the two together, and save their hair colour, it’s quite difficult to tell the two apart.
- Sakura Karasuma is an English teacher with a kind personality, but is also quite absent-minded as well, and often makes vague jokes whilst moving about in the school’s hallways. She’s well liked amongst the students, and although she understands that Shinobu’s command of English is weak, nonetheless tries to encourage Shinobu to pursue her dream of being an interpreter.
- During a summer day, the entire party goes on a day trip to the mountains. Karen’s talent for catching fish leaves Alice in the dust; the latter had intended to try and impress Shinobu, but is resigned to eating the fish that Karen has caught. I’m almost certain that the cleaning aspect was carried out, but the anime had spared us the necessity of watching the process: in Survivorman, Les Stroud skips over the portions of cleaning out whatever fish and game he catches.
- It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen anything to do with Yuyushiki, and I was pleasantly surprised to see it again. I believe that when I watched it last, I was working on a serialised computer model that allowed two simulations running on different computers to share information, and it was also the summer of Half Life 2, Metro Last Light and Garden of Words. Kiniro Mosaic is run in Manga Time Kirara Max, a subset of Manga Time Kirara, which runs Yuyushiki and K-On!, hence the permissions to grant Yuyushiki a cameo appearance here.
- Besides Shinobu, whose got some sort of hybrid kimono that integrates traditional and Western elements, Yoko, Aya, Alice and Karen all wear traditional kimono to their local summer festival.
- After an evening of takoyaki and other Summer Festival foods, running into Sakura and lighting sparklers, the girls close the evening and episode off with a firework. It’s the quintessential summer experience, and one that I’ve seen in too many anime to name.
- After masquerading as a mysterious guest, Isami blows her cover during the school festival when she aims her camera at Alice. Shinobu’s class does a hybrid cafe that combines Western and Japanese elements together, and despite Aya’s protests about donning a maid’s outfit, their class does a fine job.
- Alice’s first culture festival turns out to be a wonderful experience, and despite the minor misunderstanding that arises when Shinobu forgets that it’s the anniversary of when they’d first met, Alice manages to gift a hair ribbon to Shinobu after the culture festival draws to a close.
- For no reason at all, and occupying a precious slot reserved for screenshots, I will show off the pièce de résistance of Aya’s cooking: king crab. Crab is a food best enjoyed by handling it directly with one’s fingers. As skilled as I am with a fork and knife, nothing beats opening the crab shell and sucking out the succulent meat within. King crab is usually something I have during the New Year’s or during the summer, and for other events of the year, Dungeness Crab (Metacarcinus magister) cooked with ginger and green onion accompanies the dinner.
- Aya decides to invite everyone over for a sleepover when her friends learn that her parents are out. Aya is quite the opposite of Rize: while the latter is confident, disciplined and forward, Aya is quiet, although there are some situations where the former acts similarly to the latter (and vise-versa) in their respective animes.
- I didn’t expect anime such as Kiniro Mosaic to produce much in the way of discussion, and for the most part, aside from reviews, discussion about Kiniro Mosaic tends to be short, sweet and to the point, expressing how the anime is able to leave a warm, favourable impression on its audiences. A second season was announced somewhere back during April 2014, and with the success this series has experienced, this is not surprising and much welcomed.
- GochiUsa and Kiniro Mosaic take the audiences on a journey through the year, and despite being created by different authors, manage to be quite similar to one another in some regards. Quite personally, the European setting in GochiUsa, and the fact that I watched it first, makes it more memorable for me, but this is not to say that Kiniro Mosaic was unenjoyable.
- It’s 2015, and moments such as these still melt my heart. After a New Year’s Dream, Alice speaks in nothing but English about her experiences back home in England, anxious about Shinobu losing interest in her because she was growing too accustomed to Japanese culture. Shinobu finds her own English completely outmatched, and after Alice tearfully reveals the truth, she reassures Alice that things will be fine.
- By the start of their second year, Alice and Yoko are separated from Aya, Shinobu and Karen, leading to disappointment until Shinobu notes that their distance is trivial compared to the separation they had after Shinobu returned to Japan when her homestay period concluded. The second season will focus on how Aya and Alice grow accustomed to classes without their friends, and may even feature a group visit to Alice’s home.
- The finale is a little unusual: the end credits roll about halfway into the episode, and the remainder of the time is spent on a dramatisation of Shinobu’s story, featuring her and Alice as princesses, Karen as a pirate, Aya as a mermaid and Yoko as a prince. It’s sufficiently moving as to garner an ovation from her classmates and even moves Aya to tears. Typically, the end of the post comes with speculation, although this time, this isn’t strictly necessary, as we know there is a second season.
While Kiniro Mosaic offers nothing new as a slice-of-life anime to quite the same extent as GochiUsa and its warm, European setting, it is able to rearrange enough of the character archetypes and premise into an anime that remains entertaining for fans of the slice-of-life moé genre. This is an anime where the artwork is relatively simple, emphasising the dynamics of yet another group of friends. The relatively minimal artwork means that the viewers are drawn towards the characters, reinforcing a common theme for slice-of-life anime: that it’s the people one spends time with, rather than where they are, that matter. I personally would’ve liked to have seen more content set during Shinobu’s homestay in England, and the segments in Japan feel like a well-worn path, frequently tread and familiar. However, with Sinobu, Alice, Yoko, Aya and Karen keeping things interesting, I’ll be following the second season as this Spring 2015’s Iyashike even though it’s almost certainly going to feature more of the same: as I’ve enunciated in many other posts about slice-of-life, the whole point of such anime is to sooth and entertain. If I want something with a solid story, I’ll re-read H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine.