Aug 24, 2023
After coming from the main series, I had hoped that the sequel might move the plot forward somehow. Instead, the plot moves sideways and sort of flops. It has glaring flaws that, had I not just watched the main anime, I probably might grimace at. Would I still recommend it? Absolutely.
ART: 5/10. This is probably the most disappointing part of the 3-part OVA. You can tell that Madhouse was on an incredibly short budget with the increasing amount of still frames and slow pans. It felt like one of those 5-minute BL videos with the stiff expressions and jerky movements—except it was 1 hr and
30 minutes as opposed to just five. When up close, it feels more like the original with their fluidity and expressions. But scenarios, backgrounds, and transitions are all choppy at best, and there was a good 1-2 minutes of a scene that had no dialogue. Which would feel impactful and deliberate…if the other flaws didn’t creep in literally minutes afterwards.
Still, Takaya, Haruie, and Naoe are animated beautifully, and their expressions in this OVA are some of the rawest yet. Especially Takaya and Naoe, who are the shining cast of this OVA. The last episode, too, made up for the other two. Haruie’s animation shines best in the ED and the last episode, which closes her chapter.
MUSIC: 6/10. There weren’t many changes from the original. Nothing really stood out to me either. The OP and ED, again, weren’t my cuppa, but the rest of the OSTs still stand strong.
STORY: 8/10. Melodramatic at times, the focus splits between Haruie’s past, a race against time to thwart enemy plans, and Takaya/Kagetora and Naoe’s increasingly toxic relationship. A definite weak point is how the OVA tries to do many things—and accomplishes all of those things—but none of them well, leaving the audience feeling placated rather than satisfied. Two of the major points it closes decently, while one—probably the most predictable—is open-ended.
Why the rating is high despite the execution being barely average is the lengths the OVA takes concerning Takaya/Kagetora and Naoe’s relationship. Even as it’s labeled a ‘shounen ai,’ the OVA has more graphic (quite literally, as there was implied SA from Kagetora’s past, which might be triggering to some) scenes than all 13 episodes from the main anime combined. The scene in particular where Naoe and Takaya have an extended confrontation proves to illustrate how much Kagetora is breaking Naoe down—and it’s easy to brush off as miscommunication until the very end, where the audience has the misfortune of witnessing exactly what Naoe has been trying to fight against. The ending has a much different tone compared to the ending of the main series, and it might make your heart ache a bit.
Compared to that, Haruie’s relationship with her past lover, Shintarou, and the Araki scuffle are like appetizers. They pull the audience to the story, but they won’t be what the audience will be ultimately paying attention to.
CHARACTERS: 8/10. Concerning the main cast:
Takaya: Still wounded from the main series, he’s grown a sense of maturity and leadership, but his pressure point is still undeniably Naoe, who he shares an unresolved tension with. He switches between being frustrated and wanting to lash out and wanting to completely detach himself, but even with their shared baggage, there’s a hazardous gravitational pull between him and Naoe. Takaya feels like a man trying to run on thin ice, either skating too far or slipping too hard, either way damaging himself or those around him. Unlike before where Takaya was foul-mouthed but bratty, his dialogue to Naoe especially is cutting and caustic, a sharp contrast to the main series and an indication of Kagetora's influence on him. By far, he and Naoe are the most interesting in this OVA.
Naoe: The anime opens up with Naoe, which sets the tone for the next two episodes. There hasn’t been much change with him, because Naoe is already a man on his last leg. Halfway into the OVA, a new status quo is established, one where he slowly begins to resign himself even as his heart desperately wars for freedom. Still, there are moments in the OVA where Naoe’s role feels redundant especially with Haruie already there, and there are other moments that illustrate Kagetora and Naoe’s dual nature beautifully. Those moments—and those quiet moments of despair—make up for the occasional lackluster performance during action scenes.
Haruie: She’s the most black-and-white of the three characters, the OVA choosing to delve into the finer parts of her personality rather than change/build on it. Considering how little of her was investigated in the main series, this was a very welcome change. This OVA gives a pleasant layer into what makes Haruie her, goes a little bit into her relationship/devotion to Kagetora, and establishes her as a useful, strong-willed character. If for only this alone, I would appreciate this OVA; unfortunately, because Haruie’s part was also balanced by the other plot points, it wasn’t as fleshed out as it could have been.
OVERALL: 8/10. By itself, the OVA would be ranked lower, but in conjunction with the main series, it follows up nicely. There are still many plotholes (Yuzuru, who isn’t even a focus in this OVA, Nobunaga, etc.) but what the OVA decides to concentrate on it does decently. Unlike the main series, there aren’t many loose ends and while the pace of the OVA is frequently slow (making you want to lose attention), the dynamics between Takaya and Naoe really shines here. You get the sense that while there may not be a happy ending awaiting them, there’ll be an ending that will bond them together for as many lifetimes as they dare to reincarnate.
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