Rokuro NayaKentarou ItouMachiko ToyoshimaAi Orikasa
Medium: OVA
Year: 2000
Director: Kiyoshi Murayama
Original creator: Toshiki Yui
Studio: Ashi Productions, TOHO
Actor: Chiaki Osawa, Kentarou Itou, Kotono Mitsuishi, Ai Orikasa, Machiko Toyoshima, Rokuro Naya, Ryotaro Okiayu, Yumiko Kobayashi, Yuusaku Yara
Keywords: anime, ghost, boobs
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 40 minutes
Website category: Anime early 00s
Review date: 1 April 2011
This one's fairly obscure. It's a 40-minute OVA anime adaptation of a six-volume manga series by Toshiki Yui. I liked it, because it's mad.
Its problem is fanservice. Admittedly that's its main selling point for the otaku it's aimed at, but most of it contains nothing stronger than low-cut dresses or girls in their skimpies. No problem there. The plot's a little racy, but it's also a romantic comedy and no one actually has sex or anything. If the director had just taken a different approach on one particular scene, the results would have been lots of fun and suitable for a general audience... but unfortunately that one scene involves a naked girl with big breasts in front of a man in his bedroom. As it happens that's also a surprising, lively scene that's quite good on its own merits, but it's still blatant fanservice that's going to put off everyone except the target audience.
Ah well. That's what the original manga was like, I suppose. They've also compromised on the nipples, incidentally. At least she has some, but they're disconcerting, slightly luminous points of colour. The weirdest thing about anime (not to mention slightly creepy) for me will always be their hang-up about nipples.
That's not important, though. Check out the wacky story.
It's about three teenagers. Amy and Kirara are best friends, while Konpei is a boy Amy fancies. Kirara encourages Amy to ask Konpei out, whereupon we see a slightly confusing montage in which I lost track of which girl was which. They've both got standard anime girl faces. Nevertheless it seems that the romantic side of things has its problems, with Konpei eyeing up other women, until someone makes a confession of love and we're suddenly looking at a girl in a fast car and a wedding dress.
Then there's a truck. Next thing we know, Kirara is naked in Konpei's bed. This is the point where it gets weird, because that montage we saw was in the future and this is a ghost-Kirara who's travelled back in time by eight years. She'd never "done anything" with Konpei, you see, which may or may not include the obvious. If it does, you'd think they must have had personality transplants. They got married! This isn't the Victorian era, after all. It's possible that she just means stuff like "went to Paris" or "water-skiied together", but this is one seriously sexy ghost who purrs half of her dialogue and seems to enjoy draping herself all over Konpei, with clothing optional.
Konpei, Amy and the real Kirara are still out there. How's that for a four-dimensional love triangle?
The story's theme is about being honest, both with yourself and others. Konpei and Kirara have feelings for each other, but it takes a ghost from the future to kick them into doing anything about it. Ghost-Kirara is a great character, actually, with comedy, which is important since the three teenagers are a bit stupid and not particularly likeable. Konpei's a dick, breathing-Kirara is no better and Amy barely has a personality at all. This isn't her story, although she's active towards the end. Overall I could wish that the three teens' characterisation was stronger, but surprisingly it works. This is a forty-minute OVA. They don't have much story space to work with and besides, making them a bit cloddish and abrasive is actually a good fit for the story's plot and themes. It gives them some personality, while also allowing plenty of room for ghost-Kirara to work on improving them.
I'm a bit puzzled about what's going to happen to our heroes, though. Is ghost-Kirara going to stay? Is Kirara still going to die in eight years' time, or has she changed her own past? I wouldn't argue with anyone who chose to be slightly disturbed by where this all may or may not be leading.
This is a short OVA, but I liked it a lot. It's especially good for its length, I think. "Blink and you miss them" OVAs tend to be forgettable, I find, but this one is funny, surprising and has some startling relationship twists. I laughed at the cartoon ghost logo, for instance, while ghost-Kirara can be hilarious. I notice they cast different actresses for the two Kiraras, which makes sense given their very different outlooks and personalities even though it would be fascinating to see a truly great actress tackling a live-action remake of this. (Warning: might not happen. "Kirara", even to anime fans, is more likely to mean the magical two-tailed demon cat in Inu-Yasha.)
It even manages to find some proper emotion towards the end too. I'd been assuming this was a cheap ecchi throwaway, but to my surprise it turned out to be a memorable, well-spent forty minutes. It wanted either less or more fanservice, though.