Paradise Kiss is a 5 volume Josei manga series by Ai Yazawa (of Nana fame) that ran in Zipper magazine from 2000 to 2004. It's a sequel of sorts to her previous work Gokinjo Monogatari, with several characters from it making appearances and being relatives of the cast, but it can be read as stand-alone and has in fact been published in countries where Gokinjo has not been released.It tells the story of Yukari Hayasaka, a high school senior whose life revolves solely around her studies and her upcoming university entrance exams. That is, until she meets punk rocker Arashi and stylish lady Isabella, who accost her and ask her to model the dress they're working on for the upcoming fashion show of their arts high school. They proceed to kidnap take her to the Atelier, where she meets sweet and lovely Miwako and charismatic and handsome Johji George, fashion designer extraordinaire in the making. Together, they form the Paradise Kiss ensemble. This chance encounter shakes her dull and monotonous life, and thrusts her into a self-discovery journey and a passionate and rocky romance with George.Overall, it's an unconventionalJosei manga with a cast of unusual characters, with the world of alternative fashion as a backdrop. It can be seen as a deconstruction of the shoujo romance genre.The series was adapted into a 12 episode anime series in 2005, which proved an excellent excuse for Yazawa to design a heap of all new outfits for the characters (Note that it lacks the manga's habit of having the characters sharetheir knowing insights with the reader). A live-action film was released in June 2011.
All Girls Want Bad Boys: Poor Hiro. Yukari had a crush on him for a long time, until she met George and fell for him on the spot. And that was after Miwako chose Arashi over him. Subverted in that Yukari still likes and respects him, and in the end she actually ends up marrying him and not George.
All Love Is Unrequited: Isabella, towards George. She seems to have accepted that it's not going to happen, though.
Author Appeal: Ai Yazawa wanted to be a fashion designer before she became a mangaka. And it shows.
Bi the Way: George may be a jerk and rather kinky, but he's by no means depraved and his bisexuality is handled pretty matter-of-factly.
Bowdlerize: The anime tries to present the breakup between Yukari and George as something really sad and unfortunate, while from the manga it's obvious that it was one of the best decisions she's ever made, as she would've ended up like his mother if they stayed together. It also seriously downplays Hiro's role in the story, to the point where they don't even show that Yukari married him in the end which is pretty important to the story; even a scene with him straightening Arashi out about Miwako's feelings for him was changed to Arashi singing some song about how sorry he is for his treatment of her.
Distant Finale: Only alluded to in the anime. From the manga we learn that George designs costumes for Broadway, Yukari is a successful model and actress, engaged to Hiro, who is a doctor. Arashi and Miwako have a baby, Erika, and they're still good friends with Yukari and Hiro. Isabella is not mentioned, but presumably she's still working with George.
Only Sane Man: the contrast between Yukari's boringly ordinary self and the sheer eccentricity of the vast majority of the cast is played both for laughs and completely seriously as she starts questioning her outlook on life. A more subtle example is Arashi, who finds himself playing this role quite often when his team mates engage in their crazy absurd antics, making certain revelationabouthis past particularly shocking.
Hiro often plays this role in the Arashi/Miwako/Hiro triangle, and to Yukari.
Romantic Runner Up: Hiro may be seen as this in the beginning, but since the series is partly about desconstructing romance tropes to hell and back, it gets beautifully subverted in the end. He still gets the shaft in fanworks, though.
Serious Business: George's talent as a fashion designer is regarded as an exceptional artistic gift, so much it sometimes gets a little blown out of proportion. Then again, it's justified since it concerns his future life and career.
And then he goes and decides not to make a living of it, since that would imply catering to some kind of audience and he doesn't want to compromise his purely artistic, non-commercial view of fashion design.
He still decides to try haute couture in the end, and ends up designing costumes for Broadway shows.
This has the added effect of making Yukari (who has normal, black hair) look more out of place within their group than she already is.
Averted in the live-action film, to some fans' dismay.
Younger Than They Look: Isabella, due to both her clothing and some physical traits (she has long-fingered, extremely knobbly hands that look like an old lady's... or a skinny man's). George is a milder case, but he probably looks more like a twenty-something than eighteen.
This is lampshaded in the manga, where one scene of George and Isabella being exceptionally melodramatic has captions reminding the readers that they're still in high school.