Paradise Kiss: the art of the happy ending (spoilers!)

Paradise Kiss: the art of the happy ending (spoilers!)

It should go as no surprise that I think Paradise Kiss is an amazing series. I’ve already praised Ai Yazawa quite a bit, but there are so many things to love about Paradise Kiss that it’s hard for me to choose what to talk about. From George and Yukari’s glamorous-yet-thorny relationship, to fun characters like Miwako and Isabella who are more than what they seem, to the wonderful clothing we all wish we could wear in real life, Paradise Kiss is so detailed it feels like it’s own world. But the strongest impression the series left on me is definitely its ending. At the end of Paradise Kiss, George decides to go to Paris to try to become a haute couture fashion designer, while Yukari stays behind in Japan because her modelling career is beginning to take off. The two part, and without either of them needing to say so, they know that their relationship as come to an end. Yet one day Yukari receives a package, with the key to George’s storage room inside it. She rushes to the storage room, finds all of the dresses George has designed, and breaks down crying. At the end of the series, we find out that Yukari has married Hiroyuki, a classmate she had feelings for prior to meeting George, and they will be attending a show with costumes designed by George. It’s a bittersweet finale; one that makes me think about the art of the happy ending.

Whether you like them or not, most people are accustomed to the happy ending. Disney films always end with the couple living happily-ever-after, while even the majority of romantic-comedies end with the couple finally getting together. Because we are used to happy endings, we’ve come to expect them and are often surprised when a film or a book ends on a down note. Then there are people who enjoy bittersweet or downright sad endings because they find them to be more realistic than happy endings. Many people who appreciate sad endings enjoy them because they aren’t as common and clichéd as the traditional happy ending. Still, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t great reasons for people to like happy endings either – they often genuinely care for the characters and want to see them happy. Many people feel media are fantasies and therefore are meant to allow the audience to escape from harsh realism, while others simply prefer traditional endings because they strongly feel that only a ‘happy’ ending can be a ‘good’ ending. I generally love happy endings myelf as well because I tend to be very emotionally invested in the characters’ lives in my favorite series. And yet, I love the finale of Paradise Kiss. It stands out from most endings not only because is it realistic (since not only do George and Yukari break up but Yukari’s modelling career is described as being only moderately successful), but it also makes me question the true meaning of the ‘happy ending.’

There are several things I appreciate about Paradise Kiss. One element I love is that the series shows that the person who influences your life the most may not be the person you spend the rest of your life with. Even though she marries Hiroyuki, in the six months Yukari was with George he gave her the courage to figure out what she wants to do with her life, and allowed her to become more open-minded. More importantly, Paradise Kiss shows that it takes more than love to make a relationship work. Yukari loves George, yet she constantly feels as though there is space between herself and him, and she is unconfident in their relationship. George never tells Yukari he loves her and always jokes about having a mistress, which makes Yukari feel as though she’s always the one who has to make the first moves in their relationship. At times, George can be very cold toward Yukari, especially when he feels she’s not making her own decisions or that her priorities are in the wrong place. For example, when Yukari doesn’t tell George about the possiblity of her getting signed to a modelling agency so the two can have sex, George gets mad at her for not putting her career first. This is quite hypocritical, since later on in the series George makes the decision to not pursue a career in designing clothes without confiding in Yukari first. And yet, when he drives away after dropping Yukari off on their last date, George has tears in his eyes. And when Yukari enters the storage room, she remembers George telling her that the clothing he has designed has too many precious memories for him to sell them, and she breaks down into tears at the sight of the dresses he’s left in her care. This was the sign both Yukari and I had been looking for to show that he really did love love her. By George and Yukari not ending up together, we can feel their love for each other even more than if they had had a traditional happily-ever-after. Thus, Paradise Kiss has one of my favorite endings of all time – not because it subverts the happy ending, but instead reinvents it.


19 thoughts on “Paradise Kiss: the art of the happy ending (spoilers!)

  1. Great post! I absolutely adore this series and have talked quite a lot about Ai Yazawa myself as she is definitely my favourite mangaka.
    I also love a happy ending but the conclusion of Paradise Kiss is so touching and bitter sweet that it made me cry! I really appreciate a non-traditional happy ending (I feel like Honey and Clover also has a finale like this).
    I think the best endings, be they happy or sad, are the ones that really make you feel something.

    1. Thank you! I also cried at the end of Parakiss because not only did I not expect Yukari and George to go their separate ways, I was also sad that the series was finished. The ending of Honey of Clover is also wonderful – I cried because of the thought that these characters who were all such good friends would now be going their separate ways.

      I agree – whether they’re happy or sad, a good ending is one that stands out.

  2. I also loved the ending of Paradise Kiss. I appreciated the realistic approach to romance. It’s also one of the only stories I’ve come across where the girl ends up with a guy other than the one she was focused on throughout the series. Those aspects made the manga a stand-out for me. It’s a nice change from the usual romance (although those are good, too).

    1. Yes, one thing I love about Paradise Kiss is that it’s love triangle is low-key – we know Yukari likes Hiroyuki at the beginning of the series but it’s easy to forget once George and Yukari become involved.

  3. I never got the chance to read the manga, but I did see the anime. I think the ending happened the same way in the anime if I’m not mistaken. I agree, sometimes bittersweet endings are just as good as happy ones. I also believe there is such a thing as loving someone so much but for whatever reason you have to let the other go. Clearly, this is the case in Paradise Kiss. If they didn’t love each other they could have been selfish and ultimately held each other back from pursuing what they wanted to do.

    1. The anime and manga’s endings are similar, except that in the anime we don’t find out that the person Yukari marries is Hiro (although it’s fairly obvious), or anything about what happens between Arashi and Miwako. What’s sad about George and Yukari is that as much as they loved each other, they each had different priorities that they just couldn’t reconcile. But that’s why the tone of the series treats their parting as something that needed to happen.

  4. I recently saw the live action adaptation of this series and quite like it. I haven’t read the manga or seen the anime yet but it looks like there are a lot of similarities between the two media except for the ending. I suppose I have to read the manga first to fully understand why you like the actual ending.

  5. the live action ending is way better. those two were made for each other. i WAS gonna watch the anime, but then i found out they don’t end up together, so NO. when you say ‘realistic aprroach to love’ it sounds like you’re saying give up on love and settle. that’s just wrong

    1. The word “realistic” CANNOT be applied to an anime with as ending such as Paradise Kiss, because in real life George could have gone to Paris and come back after, like many people do.
      Why does everyone seem to a thing about ones “first” love? What’s the big deal, they are just first person you realise you’ve fallen in love with…. the great thing about humans is that we can fall in and out of love, isn’t that just the most amazing thing you’ve ever heard.
      Firstly like both endings. In both in the movie and the anime George and Caroline individually make their decision and they do as they wish. The different choices that they make after that is what leads them either ending up together like in the movie or apart and never to cross paths as the anime indicates.

  6. GOSH! is it just me? cause this anime is a major let down.. T___T . why couldnt they even be friends in the last part. Also I dont think George loved yukari anyway. Like do you guys ever remembered him saying I Love you to yukari?! Me? i dont think so. Also I think George was actually inlove with kaori his friend who went to london. If you observe at the scene when kaori went to George’s condo. That was when he and yukari were making out. He was so defensive when yukari was getting a bit jealous over kaori. To think he was never like that with yukari. Also if you really think about it it’s quite normal for yukari to get jealous cause HELLO?? she’s his girlfriend. But still he pushed yukari away even left yukari at the last part with just the key to his closet. If you ask me, If he really DID love her (which obviously he never did) he would never have left her just like that. Instead would bring her with him or be contact or so. ITS FRUSTATING CAUSE I WAS SO LOOKING FORWARD ON WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. But turned out that George was just a jerk. Also Im actually happy that yukari end up with Hiro. Atleast she’ll be rest assured with him in his life cause for sure he do love he

    1. you are so right though i do wish that yukari and george got together i mean he should have suprised her when she went to his storage room like hey yukari im back do you want to come with me this time and then she would have said yes and then they would have got together and when that did not happen it ruined my pure 13 year old life like come on the people who made the anime should at least make it again and maybe thy should make it they way on how george and yukari get together and live happily ever after with eachother and that would be much better and this is my opinion.

  7. So glad I wasnt the only who felt brokenhearted by the manga’s ending!! It was so beautifully painful. Of course there’s the undying hope for George and Yukari to end up together, because–hello!! They are just a ~dream~ together. So beautifully contrasting yet they suit each other so well. You just fall in love with the pairing. But sometimes you really cant be with the person you want to be with. And you either end up with someone you dont really love. Or you move on and find someone else that you can truly give your whole heart to (which is what I think happened to Yukari and Hiro). Of course the memories of the past will always come back, but you dont reminisce with longing anymore, just with lonely fondness. Hiro and Yukari both have “lost loves” (George and Miwako) but I’d like to think they overcame that together and in time created a new love for the two of them.

    What makes the manga so beautiful is that it left a lot of questions unanswered that you have to ponder on your own. It stays with you even if it ended so abruptly. SO FREAKING NICE!!!! I love paradise kiss.

  8. I’m cool with bittersweet endings, but it pisses me off that to know that yukari ended up with hiro, yet we don’t know whats up with George.

  9. I think the love between George and Yukari was meant to expire eventually. Yes, he did help her and influence her life but her and his relationship was fraught with many problems. Their love began intense and ended intensely. Her relationship with George is what she needed to propel her forward but he is not her soulmate. Neither is she his. Hiroyuki is Yukari’s soulmate. And Yukari is Hiroyuki’s soulmate. They are able to be together in ways and communicate with each other where George and Yukari can’t. I just love that Yukari ended up with the person who is right for her not someone she has too many highs and lows with and feels completely insecure with.

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