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 manga 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 and East Asia.
Paradise Kiss is the semi-sequel to her previous work, Gokinjo Monogatari, as several characters from that series are given cameos. This comic is widely read not only in Japan, but in many countries around the world. The Paradise Kiss manga has been translated from Japanese to at least ten different languages, Vietnamese, Chinese (Taiwan and Hong Kong), Korean, French, Italian, Polish, Thai, German, Spanish, Portuguese and English. The English version is published by Tokyopop.
- Yukari "Caroline" Hayasaka (早坂紫 Hayasaka Yukari?)
- Yukari is the heroine of the story, a high school student who is tired of the meaningless and repetitive life that has been forced upon her by her uptight mother. She eventually models for Paradise Kiss after being "kidnapped" by Isabella and whisked away to Paradise Kiss' "atelier". She is often referred to, inexplicably, as "Caroline" by Miwako.
- Yukari begins the series as a pretty faced, yet rather unattractive in personality, high school senior that studies dutifully for university entrance exams. When she meets the ParaKiss crew, she begins to discover new depth to her personality and life.
- Voiced by: Yu Yamada (Japanese), Julie Ann Taylor (English)
- Jōji "George" Koizumi (小泉譲二 Koizumi Jōji?)
- George is an eccentric, handsome, and extremely charismatic student of Yazagaku who has extraordinary talent with a gift for fashion design, haute couture in particular. Despite his cold demeanor, he has extravagant ideas on everything, most of which are not accepted by the general public. He wants Yukari to become an independent woman, as well as a girl that will take responsibility for her own mistakes. His appearance is loosely based on Brian Slade of Velvet Goldmine, and several references to the film are made by him in the manga. He has distinctive blue hair and eyes, making Yukari humorously question if he is an alien. The lifestyle that he lives is top-notch; he lives in a loft apartment and drives a vintage Jaguar, but because his mother was merely a mistress, he rarely sees his father. Regardless, his mother dryly complains that he looks and acts just like him. At the end of the series, it is shown that he has designed the costumes for a Broadway show. He is 18 years old.
- Voiced by: Kenji Hamada (Japanese), Patrick Seitz (English)
- Miwako Sakurada (櫻田実和子 Sakurada Miwako?)
- A student of Yazagaku who works with George to run their own 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. She is exceptionally sweet and cute. Miwako tends to act in a rather childlike manner, both in her Lolita style dress and unique vocabulary. Because of Miwako's endearing personality she is adored by many of the characters and is considered Yukari's bestfriend.
- Voiced by: Marika Matsumoto (Japanese), Jolie Jackson (English)
- Arashi Nagase (永瀬嵐 Nagase Arashi?)
- Arashi is a student of Yazagaku with a taste for punk style, piercings, and alternative music. He is Miwako's boyfriend, they have both known each other--along with Hiroyuki Tokumori--from childhood. During a talk with Hiroyuki, he (Arashi) is very aware that Miwako had feelings for Hiroyuki and is insecure about his (Arashi) own relatinship with Miwako, believing he wasn't making her as happy if she were to be with Hiroyuki. Hiroyuki tells Arashi not to underestimate Miwako's deep love for Arashi and to trust her more. Even though Arashi has a generally cynical and abrasive personality, he cares deeply about those around him. When the members of ParaKiss engage in outrageous behavior, Arashi is usually the voice of reason. He is the son of a musician, Kanzaki Risa, 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 (to which Hiroyuki believes would look cuter if she had looked like Miwako instead).
- Voiced by: Shunsuke Mizutani (Japanese), Derek Stephen Prince (English)
- Daisuke "Isabella" Yamamoto (山本大助 Yamamoto Daisuke?)
- 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. 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 'Daisuke', her birth name.
- Voiced by: Chiharu Suzuka (Japanese), Mari Devon (English)
- Hiroyuki Tokumori (徳森浩行 Tokumori Hiroyuki?)
- Yukari's classmate, an intelligent and handsome young man who happens to be 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 are seen as friends once more just like when they were children. He eventually falls for Yukari, who foolishly assumed that he'd never date a girl like her. The two later marry. Son of Gokinjo Monogatari character, Hiroaki Tokumori ("Toku-chan"). : Voiced by: Noriyuki Uchino (Japanese), Johnny Yong Bosch (English)
- Kaori Asō (麻生香 Asō Kaori?)
- A former Yazagaku student who is now studying abroad. She has romantic feelings for her old friend George, but knows that he is not the type to make a woman happy.
- Voiced by: Miho Saiki (Japanese), Dorothy Elias-Fahn (English)
- Alice Yamaguchi (山口アリス 'Yamaguchi Arisu?)
- Miwako's niece. She is in third grade, and just as perky as Miwako. In the anime, she only makes a brief appearance. Alice has the same eyes as Tsutomu.
- Voiced by: Rumi Shishido
In an interview in the January, 2007 issue of Newtype USA, director Osamu Kobayashi revealed many of the personal decisions which went into restructuring the manga into a television series. Wanting to avoid straying too far from the source material without approval, Kobayashi worked closely with Ai Yazawa on the new interpretations of the characters. In many instances, Yazawa was concerned that taking the original material straight would distract casual viewers or worse drive them away. Chief among these concerns was the handling of George's bisexual nature and interest in sadomasochism. Yazawa agreed that the dialogue should reflect this, but that actual onscreen depictions (as can be found in the original manga) were to be avoided. However, Kobayashi felt this was not being entirely true to the character, so he included a few hints of this side of George in the final episode. In another instance of modification, this time brought by Kobayashi, the character design of Arashi was modified to suit a scruffier, less slick appearance. "I wanted to make him look like Lupin the 3rd... sort of slouching and walking around with his hands in his pockets," Kobayashi explained. In agreement with the director, Yazawa went for the change.
One area Yazawa and Kobayashi did not agree on was the casting of Shunsuke Mizutani as Arashi. The fact that he was not a professional voice actor, but rather a musician, was the cause of this debate. Kobayashi had wanted a more natural performance that did not sound like the typical voice acting found in anime. "Yazawa and I even had a few rows because of that," Kobayashi explains. "But after she'd seen about three episodes, she finally admitted that Mizutani's voice is a great match, and I was able to relax."
In relation to the clothing design, despite the involvement of noted fashion creator Atsuro Tayama with all of George's outfits, most of the clothing was left largely as originally depicted in the manga. Director Kobayashi had specifically requested a real designer to work on the project, and Tayama's role on the production had originally been conceived as reworking the designs to fit better with the real world, but much to everyone's surprise, the original manga designs by Ai Yazawa were already quite good. So, Tayama mostly was involved in updating the clothes to suit the very latest hot trends, and touching up the designs to make them look and behave realistically when animated. He also provided cloth samples and photographs with all of his illustrations to aid the animators with getting the textures right. Besides George's outfits, the majority of clothing for the other characters was designed by art director Asami Kiyokawa. After the rough designs were completed, fellow artist Yuichi Suehiro drew all of the textures and lace by hand, and then scanned them into the computer and digitally applied them as textures during the animation coloring process.
Tokyopop licensed Paradise Kiss for an English-language release in North America and serialized it in its manga magazine Smile. Tokyopop published the series from May 21, 2002 to March 9, 2004. Madman Entertainment distributes the series in Australia and New Zealand. The series is also licensed in France by Kana and in Russia by Comics Factory.