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Manga: Paradise Kiss

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 unconventional Josei 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 share their knowing insights with the reader). A live-action film was released in June 2011.

  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: George's mom is still in her thirties. Not very absurd though given that she was a model and had George when she was still very young.
  • 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.
  • Beautiful All Along: subverted, since the only makeover Yukari gets is trimming her bangs, and even before that she was a real beauty, she was just too busy studying to notice.
  • Big Fancy House: Isabella lives in a big fancy mansion, George lives in a big fancy appartment. A very big, very fancy appartment.
  • Bishie Sparkle: it earns stylist Seiji Kisaragi the nickname "Sparkling Alien".
  • Bishōnen: in spades.
  • 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.
  • Brainless Beauty: George's mother. He despises her for it.
  • Cool Car: George's E-Type Jag
    • Hilarious in Hindsight if you ever saw the Top Gear episode where Jeremy describes Jag owners as being "slightly caddish, but in a really likeable way" which fits George to a tee
  • Cooldown Hug: hilariously played with in Yukari's first meeting of Isabella and Arashi.
  • Costume Porn: And how!
  • The Cutie: Mikako manages to look ridiculously cute (and about a third her real age) and pull it off. Miwako follows in her footsteps.
  • Dancing Theme: The ED, to a song by Franz Ferdinand of all people.
  • The Dandy: George
  • 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.
  • Education Mama: Yukari's mother Yasuko fits the trope down to a tee.
  • Elegant Gothic Lolita
  • Embarrassing First Name: George doesn't like to be called Jouji, his real name. Isabella is mortified if her birth name, Daisuke, is brought up.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: So is the power of Miwako's ultra-concentrated Moe!
  • Even the Guys Want Him: George, George, George...
  • Expy: Miwako is a clone of her sister, Mikako, main character of the original series. Interestingly, she is aware of it, and she doesn't find it amusing. George is based on Brian Slade, alluded to in the series as Brian is George's idol.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: Isabella loves making apple bunnies.
  • Genre Savvy
  • Generation Xerox : in this manga, eccentric alternative subculture fashion styles seem to be hereditary.
  • Giant Poofy Sleeves: the big school festival dress of doom has a serious case of this.
  • Heroic Bastard George
  • Hime Cut: instantly turns Yukari from a scruffy schoolgirl into a stylish beauty.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: George and Seiji - in the manga it's heavily implied that they're actually in a relationship.
  • Insufferable Genius: George lives this trope.
  • Imagine Spot: In one instance, Yukari pictures a Love Triangle as a Duel to the Death between two boys ( Tokumori and Arashi, respectively) as a Goemon and Lupin III pastiche, for the love of Miwako as a schoolgirl in Sailor Fuku. She notes it's only natural that Arashi won, after all, he had a gun.
  • Important Haircut
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Fashionable: George dresses up Yukari in the clothes he's designed (and has done the same for Isabella, a beloved platonic friend).
  • Jerk Ass: George, at his worst.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: George, at his best.
  • Justified Title: Paradise Kiss is the brand name George uses on his clothing designs.
  • Kawaiiko: Miwako.
  • Ladykiller in Love: George, with the twist that it's not towards Yukari, but Kaori.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Isabella's backstory. George is also a bit of one.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Arguably deconstructed with George.
  • Love Martyr
  • The Masochism Tango: George and Yukari.
  • Medium Awareness: contantly in the manga, but left out in the anime.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: Inverted and possibly deconstructed since Arashi forces himself on his girlfriend Miwako, but later exhibits huge guilt about it.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: judging from a passing mention of Yukari being born in the Heisei era (which means sometime during 1989 or after) the events are set in 2007 or later.
  • No Fourth Wall: absent from the anime adaptation, used to great effect in the manga.
  • Noodle People: Just look at the pic.
  • Nosebleed: in a rare female example, Seiji makes Yukari nosebleed with the sheer force of his bishieness.
  • Oedipus Complex: Arguably the main reason George is so fucked in the head.
  • 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 revelation about his past particularly shocking.
    • Hiro often plays this role in the Arashi/Miwako/Hiro triangle, and to Yukari.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: and it's a plot point. A big plot point.
  • Portmanteau Series Nickname: Parakiss. It's actually used by the characters.
  • Product Placement: There's a few Franz Ferdinand posters scattered around the place.
  • The Quiet One: Isabella is far from chatty, but her standard reaction to mostly everything (a warm, unruffled smile) makes her come across as mature and dignified instead of cold or aloof.
  • Rape Is Love: Arashi and Miwako's first time. Deconstructed in the manga, actually: Arashi does come to aknowledge how fucked up it is and feels like crap about it.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: "Do You Want To" by Franz Ferdinand.
  • 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.
  • Skinship Grope: Miwako, on Yukari.
    • Also, Arashi on (who he thought) was Miwako. Turns out it was her older sister, Mikako.
  • Something about a Rose
  • Strong Family Resemblance
  • Tall, Dark and Snarky: George
  • Team Mom: Isabella.
  • Transsexual: Isabella, though you might not have known at first.
  • True Companions
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: You can just feel how much Ai Yazawa enjoyed herself while designing the loads and loads of outfits.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Hiro for Miwako, Isabella for George.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: "She wore a man's suit to the interview. It was swanky!"
    • Subverted a little since the manga implies that having to wear a suit and dress as a man to get a job she wants in Japan is one of the reasons why Isabella decides to follow George.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: everyone in the Paradise Kiss group has a different outrageous haircolor (George=blue, Miwako=pink, Isabella=purple, Arashi=yellow/blonde) but they're all supposed to be dyed, nobody thinks it's normal, and it's played as just another part of their rather eccentric appearances.
    • 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.

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alternative title(s): Paradise Kiss
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