Paradise Kiss (パラダイス・キス,Paradaisu Kisu), abbreviated to "ParaKiss", is a manga series written and illustrated by Ai Yazawa. It appeared as a serial in the Japanese fashion magazine Zipper. Shodensha collected the chapters into five volumes. The series has also been adapted into a 12 episode anime series, produced by Aniplex and Studio Madhouse, and which was aired in Japan on Fuji TV's Noitamina programming block and on the anime television network, Animax, who have broadcast the series across its respective networks worldwide, including Japan, Southeast Asia, South Asia and East Asia.
This comic and anime are widely popular not only in Japan, but in many countries around the world. The Paradise Kiss manga and anime has been translated and dubbed or subtitled from Japanese to at least ten different languages, Vietnamese, Chinese (Taiwan), Korean, Finnish, French, Italian, Polish, Thai, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese (Hong Kong) and English. The English version was published by Vertical, Inc..
Paradise Kiss occurs in the same universe as Yazawa's previous work, Neighborhood Story, which has not yet been published in English. However, Paradise Kiss is a stand-alone story, as only three of the supporting characters are featured, who were only small children in Gokinjo Monogatari. Some of the main characters from Gokinjo Monogatari also make appearances throughout Paradise Kiss.
Yukari is a pretty high school senior that studies dutifully for her university entrance exams. She cannot find meaning in her repetitive life and feels that she has not truly lived at all. As a student at a prestigious high school, she begins with a snobbish attitude towards the fashion design students. After she is scouted by Arashi and "kidnapped" by Isabella, her attitude towards them begins to change to one of admiration for the students' passion and drive. Her intense relationship with George pushes her to grab hold of her identity, despite the fact that she feels he is a cold and manipulative man. The members of ParaKiss support her as she discovers new depths to her ambitions (becoming a professional model) and personality. She is often referred to as "Caroline" or "Carrie" by the members of ParaKiss. (Before the group knew her name, they called her Caroline. The nickname stuck.) In the manga, she eventually marries Hiroyuki after George leaves to pursue fashion design in Paris. In the anime, she gets married to an unnamed boyfriend assumed to be Hiroyuki. In the live-action film, she rejects Hiroyuki and finds George while on a modelling job in New York.
George is a senior at Yazagaku fashion school with a gift for fashion design, particularly in haute couture. Although his personality can appear cold, he lives like a hedonist and has extravagant ideas on everything, most of which are not accepted by the mainstream. George is bisexual and explains himself as an "equal opportunity lover". He refers to Yukari as both his muse and a tease. He wishes for her to become an independent woman that makes her own decisions and takes responsibility for them. His appearance is loosely based on Brian Slade of Velvet Goldmine, several references to the film are made by him in the manga. Yukari humorously questions if he is actually an alien because of his distinctive blue hair and eyes. The lifestyle that he lives is that of a wealthy young bachelor; he lives in a high-end loft and drives a vintage Jaguar. This lifestyle and his tuition are both paid for by George's wealthy father, but because his mother was merely a mistress, he rarely sees him. His mother often complains that despite his ill will towards his father, he looks and acts just like him. In the end, he's sad to leave Yukari behind but goes with Isabella to Paris to pursue fashion design.
Miwako is the bubbly, pink-haired student of Yazagaku who works with George to run their brand, Paradise Kiss. She is the younger sister of the Happy Berry brand's creator/president, Mikako Kouda, who is the protagonist in Ai Yazawa's Gokinjo Monogatari work, and feels pressure to live up to her success. Miwako tends to act in a rather childlike manner, both in her Lolita style dress and unique vocabulary. She carries around a jar of konpeito candy that makes her feel better by reminding her of how she is loved. Because of her cute personality, she is adored by many of the characters and becomes Yukari's closest friend, even offering her a place to stay when she needs it. Unbeknownst to Yukari, Miwako was a childhood friend of Hiroyuki and his first love.
Arashi is a student of Yazagaku with a taste for punk style and alternative music. With his distressed jeans and safety pin piercings, Yukari flees when he tries to scout her in the streets of Tokyo. George enjoys harassing the serious-minded punk. Miwako reassures her that though Arashi looks intimidating, he is very kind. He is Miwako's childhood friend turned boyfriend, and this was the cause of the split in friendship between Miwako and Hiroyuki, having told Miwako that she could no longer see him anymore. Arashi despises being compared to Hiroyuki for any reason as he secretly believes himself to be inferior to the clean-cut prodigy. He even breaks Miwako's phone when he realizes she is texting Hiroyuki. By the end of the manga, Hiroyuki and Miwako help him to get over his inferiority complex, and the three childhood friends attend a New Year's celebration together. When the members of ParaKiss engage in outrageous behavior, Arashi is usually the voice of reason. He is the one that talks most directly to Yukari about her decision to drop out of school. He is the son of a musician, Risa Kanzaki, who is a good friend of Mikako Kouda. (Both characters appear in Gokinjo Monogatari.) Arashi and Miwako eventually marry and have a daughter who looks much like Arashi (whom Hiroyuki believes would look cuter if she had looked like Miwako instead).
Isabella is the mother figure to the members of ParaKiss. This tall Yazagaku student is the epitome of high class and femininity. Isabella inspired George's very first dress during childhood, and often had the habit of taking every piece of clothing that he finished. As a child, she had always wanted dresses, and George was the one that fulfilled her wish. Isabella encourages Yukari when she needs it the most, whether it be regarding George or her abandoned studies. Notably, Isabella is a transgender woman, and she is mortified when anyone refers to her as her birth name, Daisuke.
Yukari's classmate, an intelligent and handsome prodigy who is the object of Yukari's affections at the beginning of the story. Hiroyuki was once in love with Miwako, but Arashi forbade her from seeing him. He gives advice to Arashi on how to come to terms with his feelings for Miwako and his past actions and soon after the three of them mend their friendship. Hiroyuki is at the top of his class and aspires to become a physician. He eventually falls for Yukari, who foolishly assumed that a girl like her would never show interest in him. In the manga, Hiroyuki expresses his frustration at always being second-best in anything but academics, referring to Miwako choosing Arashi and to Yukari being in love with George. Son of Gokinjo Monogatari character, Hiroaki Tokumori ("Toku-chan").
A former Yazagaku student who is now studying abroad on a scholarship received as the previous winner of the junior Grand Prize. She is noted for her talent and her incredible determination. She has romantic feelings for her old friend George, but knows that he is not the type to make a woman happy. According to George's conversation with Yukari, Kaori is the only woman George cannot court and it is hinted that he harbors unique feelings toward her, whether merely those of admiration or romance.