Going into this season, I was expecting D.C. II and Clannad to vie for the title of favorite fall series, but surprisingly, through week 10 it's Kimikiss that I find myself looking forward to the most. Week after week I expect it to falter, but so far they're the New England Patriots of anime, and Kimikiss's writers haven't let me down yet. I didn't have high expectations for Kimikiss (or any expectations at all, since I'd never played the game) but it's turned out to be much better than I expected, breaking free from the bishoujo-game-turned-anime mold of "a dozen girls all like one guy" and instead playing out with a much more realistic (and complicated) relationship chart, and a great cast of characters.
As a wise tanuki has said more than once, having a good male lead is critical to the success of a bishoujo series, and Kimikiss improves its odds by having no fewer than three (four, if you count Hiiragi) male leads. It makes for a much more interesting set of possibilities--will Kouichi end up with Mao or Yuumi? Will Kazuki end up with Eriko and have kids who are smarter than him by the time they're in fifth grade? Will Kai win over Mao or end up having to go play sax with himself? What kind of God could allow Hiiragi to breed?
If you draw the relationship chart for Da Capo, Kanon, or most other bishoujo series you get a million arrows pointing from all the girls directly at the male lead, but Kimikiss's chart would look more like Urusei Yatsura, closer to an explosion in a spaghetti factory. A complicated relationship chart doesn't make a series great, but it does set the stage for what should be some interesting drama, as we've gotten some glimpses of already, with Mao seeming torn between Kouichi and Kai. It's also more realistic, since as much as I love Da Capo the odds of every woman on the island wanting to take Junichi to the boneyard just defies all logic.
While fans of the game may not be happy, I'm glad Kimikiss threw the formula out the window--some of my favorite anime series, Da Capo and Kanon among them, have played things by the book, but it's a refreshing change to see a series where after the first two episodes I can't predict exactly who ends up with whom. I am rooting for Mao x Kouichi though--nothing against Yuumi or Kai, maybe it's just a anime-watching form of imprinting, but I have a habit of rooting for the first couple to appear together, and that was Mao showing up on Kouichi's doorstep in the first episode.
Plusses and Minuses so far:
(+) Blowing up the traditional bishoujo "Everybody Loves Yoshiyuki" relationship chart.
(+) Mao-neechan. Awesome in general, but especially her reaction to Kouichi fumbling trying to ask Yuumi to karaoke.
(+) The OP and ED. I could listen to them on endless loop all day before I'd get sick of them.
(+) Decent animation, nothing spectacular but it's easy on the eyes.
(+) Eriko coming up with the nastiest way to eat potato chips I've ever seen.
(+) A genius girl who's not ten years old.
(+) Pulling off a bishoujo series with no supernatural element whatsoever: no sakura trees, no girls falling in snow, no magic wands, no traps (OK, technically traps are not supernatural, but I don't understand the trap appeal), and no time-traveling virus researchers...from the future.
(-) Hiiragi's character feels like he's trying to be Suginami, but failing.
(-) The frogs. If I could, I'd throw them in a pot of water and bring that sucker to a rolling boil.