Paradise Kiss, 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.
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.
Tokyopop licensed Paradise Kiss for an English-language release in North America and serialized it in its manga magazine Smile. After Tokyopop’s dissolving in 2011, New York based publishers Vertical, Inc. acquired the rights to the property with plans on releasing the series in a three-volume A5 sized set with new covers, color plates and newly commissioned translation set for Fall 2012. Madman Entertainment distributes the series in Australia and New Zealand. The series is also licensed in France by Kana, in Poland by Waneko and in Russia by Comics Factory.
Yukari “Caroline” Hayasaka
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.
Jōji “George” Koizumi
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.