What is KISS?

This article is old, and out-of-date in places, but will still hopefully be of interest...

What is KISS?

KISS is a computer program halfway between a picture viewer and an animation viewer. It is a Japanese kisekae (changing clothes) program, sometimes called a "paperdoll" program. This article will say something about KISS and where to obtain it and the KISS data, sorry but bits of it will be rather "techie".

A character (invariably female) is shown wearing a set of clothes, with various alternative clothes along side, and the clothes may be moved around by dragging them with the mouse. Clothes go under and over appropriate parts of the body and other clothes, and in some cases both under and over the body, a shoe, a bracelet, or a jetpack for example. There are up to ten "sets" showing the character dressed differently, an image or bitmap file of the current appearance of a set may be saved (e.g. to create a GIF), and any changes made may be saved for later use. In most cases the modesty of the characters is preserved by making some of their clothing immobile, in a few cases the underclothes are part of the basic cel of the body.

Now for the bad news (for some of you anyway). A majority of the KISS data is for Sailor Moon, with many of the other characters from obscure manga such as (I think) Might Gain and Miracle Girls, mainly aimed at Japanese girls, and which I have never seen in Britain (though if you know where to look...). However, some of the better known characters/anime are: Catty from Gall Force, Shakty Karin from V Gundam, Nadia, Ranma, Lum, Noriko from Gunbuster, and Mirai from Moldiver; there is no Dirty Pair. In addition Chun Li from Street Fighter II appears, Otama from Samurai Pizza Cats, there is a jigsaw of a character called Cotton, and even a battleship called Mogami! I understand there are also things like Mobile Suits, but I have not yet seen any of these.

The general standard of the artwork in KISS data is very high, and it is frequently worth looking at for this if nothing else. There are even a few characters done in a very naturalistic style with detailed artwork on things like their kimonos. Clever use has been made of the system to vary characters between sets, for example arm position, hair, and even the expression on the face! It is possible to make your own KISS data, given enough skill and some additional software. Some KISS data contains an awful lot of bunny-girl costumes, and swim suits seem quite popular. Only sixteen colours are used in any one set (fifteen plus the background), but many images seem to have been very well converted from 256 or more colours.

To try out KISS you need two things (including a computer). You need a version of KISS for your computer; there are versions for various Japanese computers, for IBM PC MS-DOS, for PC MS-Windows, for Apple Macs, for UNIX/X11, and maybe even for Acorn Archimedes! There does not appear to be any version for Atari ST, or Amiga, but with all the talented people out there...

You also need KISS data in the form of KISS archives, and some way of accessing them. These are stored in LHA format (file extension LZH), the most popular Japanese archive format. The LHA program is generally available for the PC, and programs to read this format are available for most machines. The only problem is that some archives are not generally available, or have restrictions on their distribution (such as prior permission required, or only on free BBSs). It may be difficult to get permission from an originator in Japan (but who knows, a new pen pal?).

Another problem is the documentation and comments in some of the files. These are in Japanese, and unless you have the Japanese versions of MS-DOS or MS-Windows these wont even look like Japanese characters, never mind any problem you might have reading them. It is even possible some of the filenames for cels, etc, may contain Japanese characters; this may cause problems on some machines.

The KISS program was originated by someone calling themselves "MIO.H" of K.O.S (Kawaii Onnanoko System = Pretty Girls System). KiSS stands for Kisekae Set System. There seem to be two current standards for KISS data, 2.18 and 2.24c. Some versions of KISS programs (e.g. KISS for MS-Windows, v0.20) can handle 2.18 but not 2.24c, this seems to be a problem of screen size. There seems to be a new standard called "KISS/GS" on the way, but yuki (see below) has not yet translated the documentation into English.

This article could not have been written without the help of the translations of ITO Takayuki (yuki), "yuki@is.s.u-tokyo.ac.jp", a graduate student at the Department of Information Science at the University of Tokyo, Japan.

There is a KISS mailing list on internet created by Mr. Hitoshi Doi ("doi@jrd.dec.com") which can be subscribed to by sending mail to "doi@usagi.jrd.dec.com" or "himechan@usagi.jrd.dec.com".

(c) R.O.McLean, June 1994

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