Story = A-
Video = A-
Audio = B+
Yukari is a typical high-school student who listens to her parents and attends school everyday. As she starts to question her way of life, she encounters a group of fashion design students who has a clothing label known as "Paradise Kiss". The group needs to find a model to showcase their designs in an up-coming fashion show and decides to pick Yukari instead. Initially, Yukari was reluctant to be associated with this seemingly eccentric group, but eventually, she realises that they are really nice people. Furthermore, their passion and enthusiasm to follow their ideals and dreams make Yukari realise that she has not been enjoying her life and this motivated her to pursue her own dreams. (Source: ANN)
This is a show that takes place in the world of fashion, but there really isn't a lot of talk about its technical side. Fashion is more like the means though which the main character -- Yukari -- develops from a "by the book" student into someone who follows her own will. And it tells that story extremely effectively. This is the first show in a long time where after one episode ended I couldn't wait to get to the next one, not because I wanted to see what happens next, but just because I liked watching the characters develop.
Part of the show's effectiveness lies in how realistic it is. The characters are believable, but they also have such a creative edge to their personality that whenever Yukari goes to see them it sees like she is stepping into a totally separate world -- one where people follow their passions instead of the rules of the world. And it's that passion along with their reliance on each other that really draws you into into the story.
The visual designs also add to the theme of realism and originality. The character designs are each unique and intriguing and reflect the creative side to their personalities. But the most unique part of the art is the costume designs -- which if I remember correctly were actually designed by a real fashion designer (though I don't have a source on that at the moment). It's especially noticeable since in most anime the characters always wear the same thing (to make it easier on the animators I'm guessing), but here they change clothes constantly, and one character even goes so far as to have a different hair color and style each time she shows up.
There isn't a lot of music throughout the show's soundtrack, but as it turns out, that actually works in its favor and gives it a lot more credibility in my eyes because it doesn't rely on music to enhance a scene and manipulate the audience's emotions. The characters elicit enough of a response in themselves. That's not to say there was no soundtrack to it, though most of it seemed to come in the form of a character's radio being turned on in the background or something, which again added to the realism.
The opening and ending themes are awesome, and I watched both in every episode. For some reason I just couldn't resist watching the OP because it seemed to put me in just the right mood to start each episode. The ending is something that you have probably heard before: "Do You Want To" by Franz Ferdinand (kudos to Geneon for working through that licensing nightmare). The song starts in the last few seconds of the each episode and then transitions into the EP. It's a great technique that I haven't seen so successfully employed since Gankutsuo. The final animation is a blast to watch too, as the main characters dance around in SD form.
If I had to find one flaw in the show I would have to say that it is that the story is so rushed. For instance, in the first few episodes the relationship between George and Yukari develops awkwardly. At first she doesn't like George at all, then all of a sudden she is all over him and I was never sure when that switch took place. Things got all the more rushed near the end. The last episode especially seemed to cram a good 3-episodes worth of material in. Conflicts arise and are resolved in a matter of minutes, giving me the impression that the show was scurrying to cover as much material from the manga as possible. As a result you don't get enough time to absorb and react a scene before the next thing happens. But even given the rushed nature, it was still all really good stuff and the ending was still for the most part satisfying.
So overall I think this is a great show for anyone who enjoys a creatively-executed, realistic drama with intriguing characters, or anyone who is just looking for something a little different.