Kashimashi: The Ultimate Guide
by Janet Houck
Hazumu Osaragi seems to have been cursed with an interesting life. A member of the school's Gardening Club, one day he confesses his love to Yasuna, the beautiful yet quiet flutist in the school orchestra. However, she turns Hazumu down. His heart broken, Hazumu climbs Kashimashi Mountain to grieve and find the strength to continue on with his life, alone. Reaching the summit, Hazumu makes a wish on a shooting star... that is actually a falling UFO! The alien apologizes and resurrects Hazumu, but as a girl!
Now Hazumu must learn how to be a teenage girl, with the help of her friends: Asuta, Hazumu's best friend who now has a crush on her; Tomari, Hazumu's childhood friend and protector from bullies, who now discovers new feelings for her friend; Yasuna, who wants to have a relationship now with Hazumu; and Ayuki, the sempai set on watching the romantic drama between Hazumu, Tomari and Yasuna. On the sidelines of all this confusion are the alien, Sora Hitoshi (a play on words for the kanji for 'alien') and Jan-puu, the same spaceship that 'killed' Hazumu, transformed into a cute girl. Sora claims to be studying Hazumu as an example of human beings and their capacity for emotions, such as love. Needless to say, the social machinations of Sora and the affections of Jan-puu combine to make life around Hazumu... interesting.
The story begins with the manga series, currently running in Dengeki Daioh seinen manga magazine. In January 2006, a novel was released under the Dengeki Bunko label, which condenses the plot of the manga series into a single volume. From January to March 2006, the twelve-episode anime series aired on TV Tokyo, with a thirteenth episode released straight to DVD in October 2006. There are OST and single CDs featuring music from the anime, as well as a drama CD, and a fan book for fans of the manga.
The Kashimashi manga series currently consists of four volumes, and has been running in Dengeki Daioh since May 2004. Writer Satoru Akahori has many well-known titles under his belt, including Saber Marionette J, Sorcerer Hunters, Maze Megaburst Space, and the manga adaptation of Abenobashi: Magical Shopping Arcade. Yukimaru Katsura, the artist, is known for her warm color tones and round-faced girls. Her other works include the manga adaptations of AIR and of Magical Play.
In addition to the core story, the manga volumes each feature full-length extra stories that center around Hazumu and her friends, providing back story, as well as an opportunity to see the characters outside of the main story arc.
The manga has been licensed in the US by Seven Seas Entertainment, with the first volume out in December 2006.
A twelve-episode anime adaptation of Kashimashi began its run in January 2006 on TV Tokyo. With animation from Studio Hibari (Spirited Away, Petite Cossette, Sumomomo Momomo) and background artwork from J.C. Staff (Excel Saga, Tsukihime, Honey and Clover), Kashimashi is a beautiful anime, with fluid animation and characters with depth. Like the manga, it features a lot of fanservice, but nothing to push the series into the category of hentai.
The voice actresses for four of the principal characters (Ayuki, Yasuna, Hazumu, and Tomari) are quite experienced in anime voice acting, and they contribute solo versions of the ending song for episodes eight through eleven, as well as insert songs. The actresses also do a radio podcast which acts as extra audio-only episodes, which is available on the official Japanese website: kasimasi.com.
The plot of the anime follows the manga faithfully until episode ten, where the anime shifts to resolving the love triangle. Many fans of the manga disliked the anime's ending, which pairs Hazumu with Yasuna, and leaves Tomari crying in the arms of a sympathetic Ayuki. Regardless, creating some sort of ending for the anime is a necessary evil when the manga has not ended its magazine run.
A thirteenth episode OVA came out in October 2006. With a running time of thirty minutes, "The Girl Is Whom the Girl Once Loved" will give fans of the anime and of the manga a better sense of closure. The OVA includes an artbox for all of the DVDs, a character poem CD, and extra features.
The anime series is set to be released in Spring 2007 by Media Blasters.
The Music and Voices
The OST CD was released in April 2006. Consisting of 39 tracks, the Kashimashi soundtrack is quite extensive. Additionally, the opening, ending and second opening/ending songs are available as singles.
The drama CD was released in May 2006, and stars the voice talents of the anime. With nine original comedic stories and one story straight from the anime series, this CD is a must-buy for fans of all things Kashimashi!
The Art and Merchandise
The Kashimashi Official Fan Book was released in April 2006 by the Dengeki Daioh Editorial Department. The book features artwork from the manga never used in the magazine, with original character sketches, setting information, illustrations, and a full-color comic.
As a bonus for Japanese viewers, each of the Kashimashi DVDs comes with an art card/shitajiki (pencil board), featuring unique beautiful pin-ups of the central female characters.
Trading figures are available of Ayumi, Hazumu, Yasuna, Tomari, Jan-puu, and beach episode Hazumu, holding up her bikini top. As they are packed in mystery boxes, it's rather difficult to pick the girl you want to add to your desktop. Just like CCG cards, PVC figures are the latest fad in expressing love for your favorite series.
The Video Game
For the Playstation 2, Kashimashi ~Girl Meets Girl~: The First Summer Story is a visual novel game, first released in Japan in March 2006. From Marvelous Interactive, the publisher behind many anime-based games, the game introduces three new love interests for Hazumu, as well as the characters from the anime and manga. As in many love simulations, you decide who pairs up with Hazumu, and her relationship with all of the other characters.
Time for some trivia tidbits! "Kashimashi," the name of the series, its town and school, is the Japanese word for "noisy." The title comes from the Japanese saying, "When three women gather, it's kashimashii (noisy)," which makes perfect sense with the central love triangle of the three girls.
Jan-puu has a unique name that she calls Hazumu. Onee-nii-sama (literally, older sister-brother) is a homage by Satoru Akahori to his older series Maze Megaburst Space, where one of the characters, Mill, uses this title/name when speaking to the main character, Maze.
And that wraps up this look at the world of Kashimashi. How the series will end is still up in the air, but remember that the greatest stories are all about the adventures had while getting there!
Kashimashi ~Girl Meets Girl~ © SATORU AKAHORI - YUKIMARU KATSURA 2005