Updated: Jul 14, 2021
Rating - ⭐⭐
"Yukari wants nothing more than to make her parents happy by studying hard and getting into a good college. One afternoon, however, she is kidnapped by a group of self-proclaimed fashion mavens calling themselves "Paradise Kiss." Yukari suddenly finds herself in the roller coaster life of the fashion world, guided by George, art-snob extraordinaire. In a glamorous makeover of body, mind and soul, she is turned from a hapless bookworm into her friends' own exclusive clothing model."
Paradise Kiss is a completed manga series by Ai Yazawa that focuses on the fashion world.
This wasn't originally on my TBR, but I thought I would give it a shot, and I regret doing so. The premise was interesting because I haven't read anything based around fashion before, but this was not a good reading experience.
Let's start with the thing that bothered me the least - the illustration style. I get that the vast majority of the characters in this are either models or designers, but the unnaturally long and thin legs kind of creep me out.
Now let's move onto the main issue I had with this series - a romance that is melodramatic, unhealthy and bleak. The romance between Yukari and George develops way too quickly, and it only goes downhill from there. It is made very obvious that being with George is taking a toll on Yukari, but she was unable to pull away from him. George's excuse for his behaviour is that when he likes someone, he wants to be mean to them...
The unhealthy relationships don't even end with Yukari and George as pretty much every relationship in this is bad. This manga includes child abuse and disowning, with the excuse on the abusers side being that if they didn't make her mad, then she wouldn't have to hit them.
There is also a side couple where the male in the relationship more or less threatened his girlfriend several times because she has feelings for two people at once. The first time they had sex as well, the girlfriend resisted and cried but you kept going, which you know, is sexual assault.
The unhealthy train continues with Yukari herself, as she is very judgemental of people. At the beginning of the manga, she repetitively called the people of Paradise Kiss freaks. This includes one of the members who was either a transvestite (do we still use that term?), or was a trans woman (it isn't really clear). I am not here for harmful stereotypes even though I was surprised that Isabella's character was included in the story in the first place. Isabella was also the best character in the entire manga as she was actually a good person. I think Yukari was possibly homophobic as well, which is just the cherry on top of a sundae.
Maybe this book was trying to highlight how to move away from unhealthy relationships, but the way this really dialed into it was just not fun at all to read about. I don't like when unhealthy relationships are romanticized.
Even if you like fashion and think that this is a unique concept for a manga, I would skip this one due to the vast amount of unhealthy relationships portrayed in this.