It's been a long time since I watched this OAV series, and while I did remember that there was a fair amount of fan service, I have to admit I was rather surprised by just how much there was. From memory of the series, this first volume is the worst with regards to nudity, and sexual innuendo, and I will definitely say this video is not for kids.
The actual story here is not bad, however the attempts at comic relief and humour punctuated with constant fan service, and gratuitous nudity really cheapens the viewing experience. Based around the idea of eliminating someone before their powers awaken, our introduction to Mano Yohko, her family heritage and their battle against evil is presented in an easily comprehensible fashion. However, the constant interruptions of comic humour, girls' breasts and other "luscious tidbits" makes the actual story a touch dull and uninspiring. Too tongue in cheek and with too many distractions from the main story, the direction does more to distract viewers from the little story present rather than work to enhance it and make things more interesting.
Of course, if they were to focus on the actual story rather than the extras, the show would probably lose a good 5-10 minutes of footage. However, that's not to say that the film's weaknesses lie solely with the direction. The voice acting is also not quite as strong as could be hoped for in a Japanese production. At times sounding bored, forced, presumptuous or just plain fake, it doesn't hold up to what is normally heard. Yet, again, not all of this is strictly the seiyuu's fault. The surprising lack of background music in a number of scenes for long periods puts greater emphasis on the impact of the characters voices for the scene, which in turn highlights any weaknesses encountered. Being more accustomed to having more background music present, this distinct lack is decidedly noticeable and surprising.
So many scenes were lacking in background music that it sounded a touch empty or dead. And this ends up accentuating some of the lack in voice acting quality since there is nothing hiding the voice whatsoever; any points which are weaker tend to be noticeable. The music here is decidedly uninspiring and nondescript. Actually, there were a number of scenes which seemed unusually "empty". Mind you, there was one scene in which the exact opposite is true and it had nothing but music. It may well strike viewers as a touch strange as well. Otherwise, the closing theme song isn't all that bad, having an interesting mix of slower ballad style mixed with boppy pop music.
The translations were a touch mixed with some instances of good translations and some not so great. There were places where the translation was quite accurate and representative of the dialogue, while other places were suitably looser and more representative of the feel of the scene. However, there was at least one error. Since when did 11 PM become 8 PM? Sloppy. Especially when you consider that the next scene clearly shows the time as 11PM... Even so, the liberties taken in the subtitles does not detract from the story at hand.
The animation quality is rather disappointing for an OAV albeit an older one. Making use of lots of stills and pans, lesser detail, or speedlines, good detail was present primarily in fan service or sexually driven scenes.
Perhaps I'm becoming a bit prudish in my "old age". I found the sexually explicit nature of some scenes just for the sake of having such scenes rather unimpressive and annoying. Are 15 year olds really... but that's not the point here. Overall the story isn't bad, but the constant focus on fan service proves to be too distracting and annoying to make this a great watch.
- JYN, 2001.07.31