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At a Glance: Kaleido Star
Kaleido Star is the story of a young girl, Sora, who travels from Japan to the United States to follow her dream of being in an acrobatic troupe called Kaleido Stage. Of course, she's not instantly accepted by the seasoned acrobats, but she is given a chance to prove herself. Over time, various challenges arise that Sora has to overcome with hard work and perseverance.
As Sora is the only Japanese girl in the show, she feels a little isolated at first. Also, she showed up late to the audition and only got in because the boss of the show gave her an extra chance. All the performing girls live together in the same dormitory. Sora's room, however, is visited by an unexpected guest, the spirit of the stage! He tells Sora that he intends to wait until she's a good enough performer and then he'll teach her the ultimate move. The Spirit helps her by predicting the future with magic cards and gives her advice.
Slice of Life, Fantasy, Magical Girl
OVAs (3), manga series, novel
Kaleido Star feels good and is thrilling. You really want to see the main character succeed because she works so gosh-darn hard. It's also thrilling because you know what she's trying to do is very difficult, and the cost of failure is very high. If a rookie screws up a show even once, they're basically kicked out. So even someone with talent and potential must work diligently to reach that potential. And Sora does, and it's very uplifting to see her overcome so many challenges and struggles.
This show is a fascinating look at how tough it is to be new at something. The more experienced girls treat the newbies like garbage, not thinking they even belong at Kaleido Stage. But everyone is new at some point. Sora not only has to overcome extremely challenging situations physically; socially, she has to take the harshest criticism imaginable for every mistake she makes. The animation of the show is beautiful and when you get to see a real Kaleido performance, the visual effects are stunning. Watching this show makes you feel like you're in the audience watching the performances, cheering when Sora and her two best friends get it right, and cringing at their mistakes with them, hoping they'll do it better next time.