Lately, shy Manami has been flirting outrageously and sparking vicious cat-fights! Afterwards, she remembers nothing. Can it be that another personality seethes beneath her own? A wild woman who’ll do anything to find trouble?
This is a review of the DVD version of "Sprite: Between Two Worlds" released by U.S. Manga Corps in 2001. It was viewed with English voice overs and English sub-titles.
"Sprite: Between Two Worlds" mainly falls into the category of romance anime with a significant number of ecchi scenes along the way, and also incorporates elements of comedy and drama with some psychological undertones.
This is not for children. While there is nothing explicit shown in "Sprite", it contains multiple sex scenes, or implied ones. There is also a significant amount of nudity, though no genitalia is shown. Oddly, the
age on the box indicated 16 and up, but the warnings included with the video state it is for 18 and up.
The main tale focuses on Toru and his interactions with Manami and Nami who are actually two different personalities of the same girl. While not expanded upon, it also turns out that Toru and Manami/Nami are apparently related, likely making them at least distant cousins if not more closely related. The mother of Manami/Nami appears in a few scenes, but doesn't play much of a role. Some of their classmates appear in multiple scenes, often serving roles as rivals or alternate interests of affection. However, the bulk of the scenes involve Toru and Manami/Nami and how they deal with the split personality issue.
The fundamental difference is that one personality is timid and shy and the other is confident and out-going. However, this confidence and resulting out-going attitude that Nami possesses has could also be viewed as a simple maturity aspect of Manami. In other words, Nami could just represent an older, more mature version of Manami. A story with Toru witnessing and perhaps even facilitating this gradual shift between a once-timid girl to the eventual confident version may have been an interesting coming-of-age tale.
The split personality condition could have also been covered in a number of ways such as a full-blown comedy focusing on the humorous situations it leads to for Manami/Nami. Or it could have been a full-blown drama that explored the tension that builds between Toru and Manami/Nami. Or it could be an ecchi romance that turns a simple boy-girl relationship into some sort of psycho-sexual menage-a-trois. At times, "Sprite" seems to be attempting to be any one of these, yet it never manages to fully deliver on any of them.
Toru is your typical horny adolescent boy. He seems rather stereotyped and there is not much character development for him. Manami/Nami is the most interesting character in the show and she is the only one that really undergoes any notable character development. The mother has little depth, and the fact she seems completely unconcerned or completely oblivious to the romantic relationship between Toru and Manami seems unrealistic for a parent. Meanwhile, all of the fellow high school students seem to be two-dimensional.
Art / Animation: 5/10
This seems roughly on par for a 1997 OVA. There's nothing all that good or bad about the quality of the animation or character models. The character physiques seem more realistic than those found in some other anime, but their faces look a bit outdated by today's standards.
Sound / Voice: 4/10
The sound is average. There's nothing all that memorable about the soundtrack or background that stands out.
The english voice actor for Toru was poor, but the voice actresses for Manami/Nami and her mother were acceptable. The other students were ok.
As this disk offered the chance to both listen to English and see English subtitles simultaneously, I found it interesting that the two often differ. Typically, it was only a couple words change, but sometimes and entire phrase was omitted or changed.
There are a few memorable scenes in the show, but they are few and far between. From a comedic standpoint, some of the humor is rather juvenile, though I chuckled at a couple of the "nosebleed" moments which involved Nami sans panties. From a dramatic stand-point, the situations and emotions the characters felt never seemed strong enough to pull me in. From a romance standpoint, it never seemed heartfelt. Some of the nudity and sex scenes seemed overly gratuitous, and likely could have been left out entirely.
Final Verdict: 4/10
"Sprite: Between Two Worlds" had the opportunity to explore the issue of split personality in a number of ways. Had it focused on a single approach, such as just drama or comedy, it may have achieved a much stronger delivery. Instead, the anime seems to suffer from its own multiple personality syndrome, never quite sure if it's a comedy, drama, romance, or something else. Unfortunately, the end result is less than the sum of its schizophrenic parts, and the final work misses the mark, never reaching its full potential.
In the twenty or so years I have watched anime I have come across some rather unusual titles. But nothing and I mean nothing prepared me for Sprite: Between Two Worlds. A bargain bin title from the now defunct Central Park Media. I don't know what I was expecting from this title but what I discovered maybe pure gold.
Lets not mince words here. Sprite or Manami & Nami Sprite is awful. It just maybe one of the worst things I have sat through, but unlike forgettable crap this has stuck with me since the moment I watched it. This DVD deserves a case study
in how companies like CPM would license anything cheap regardless of it's value or quality in the late 90s and early 00s. Popping this disc in will do more to explain why the anime bubble popped about a decade back then anything else you will read online.
The story is about as simple as it gets. Main character Tooru moves in with his cousin Manami because his mother is ill (Personally, I felt his mother was just sick of his shit). The only real twist on this formulaic plot is that Manami has a split personality named...get this Nami. And the split personality angle is played about as elegant as a pregnant cow being used as a wrecking ball. The front of the DVD includes a quote to a review that states 'The Anime Equivalent of Sybil'. Which excuse my lack of memory for the 1976 made for TV film but I don't remember that story being about a teenage girl with a slutty split personality. And yes Nami is just a loud slutty alter ego. Nothing more. While I don't want to spoil how Nami came about existing just know that you'll smack yourself in the forehead by the time the anime concludes.
Sprite was an OVA series which would lead you to assume that the art would fair better then say a TV series. Well you would be DEAD wrong. The corner cutting in animation is almost impossible to ignore. One of the most noticeable oddities is that Manami's feet were drawn with no toes. In fact they were all fused together like the artist forgot to draw lines to separate them. Then the team went to color and just didn't give a shit. And this isn't just from a distance. There are several close up shots were they are the focus point. The second episode fairs better in terms of quality but by that time the damage is done.
I know you want to ask me how the English dub is. And I can say it's one of the worst CPM has provided. I never got their practice of finding nobodies to fill in their bargain bin titles. If you weren't going to put any work into the dub why not just make it a subtitle only release? But then again common sense would have done wonders for the company. Case in point is the blatant dialog changes. See during my golden age of anime watching there seemed to be a paranoia about none adult characters (read: high school or younger) engaging in possible sexual acts. Which if you haven't been living under a rock is the general age of most protagonist. Fearing a lawsuit or a mob of angry parents companies would either put warning labels or lie about the ages. The issue with that one is that it isn't subtle. Two episodes the word 'college' is uttered enough that you could make a killer drinking game from it. These are high school students and everyone knows it. Saying they are in college doesn't change that.
The quality of the audio is what you expect from a VHS to DVD transfer. The Japanese dub is fair but let's face it if you are in the mood for trash the English dub is the only way. You also may have noted the score of 2 for the audio instead of a 1. This has nothing to do with the dub but instead has to do with a song played during the anime. This song is a complete rip off of the theme from Top Gun. Not Danger Zone from Kenny Loggins, but the 'Top Gun Anthem' itself. It is so obviously stolen it blew me away. And it's a highlight trying to find it once you know about it.
The less I say about the main cast the better. There isn't a single likeable person in the bunch. Tooru being the worst of them all. On the first night our main character masturbates to the thought of his cousins breasts. So if you find that to be a redeeming quality you may like him better then I did.
Despite my literal page worth of complaints I couldn't stop watching this. It's a train wreck, a shameless porn filled wreck. Oh did I not mention it becomes a porn at the end? Yeah the sexual content ramps to 11 with little warning it would become such. While it isn't hardcore you'll excuse me if I wasn't shocked by the semen run down Manami's mouth. In fact the DVD tells you this is a 16+ rated anime. However, the first warning that pops up on the movie is an 18+ rating. Which I completely ignored my first time through. Because let's face it who doesn't skip those? It seems that the only thing this anime got right with split personality was the DVD box.
If you have a group of like-minded friends this is a blast. The less you tell them about the ending the better because the look of confusion on their face will be priceless. This DVD is pretty damn cheap and the entertainment value is there if you are in the mindset. Just make sure someone brings the alcohol.
Story: 4 points.
Split personalities ...really? if you're going to do that old routine in this day and age then you need to put an original twist on it, like maybe she transforms into a dog, a futanari, or a dominatrix.
Comedy + vanilla + nothing special = boring.
Art: 6 points.
The Art was good, but not great. The art was more 80's than it should have been since the anime was made in the late 90's
Sound: 6 points
The sound was not bad but then there was nothing challenging about this anime to begin with.
Character: 1 point
The chars were nothing more than skin level development and were
based totally on negative stereotypes
This anime displays a very negative stereotype of Japanese people, women in particular.
Seriously if, you have to transform into someone else (and become someone or something you are not) before you can have enough guts to stand up against three, weak-bodied, school girl bullies, you ARE pathetic.
"Oh no! Someone stole my underwear, oh boo hoo. What do I do?"
While the Japanese men do seem to breed their women to be weak and insecure I don't believe all Japanese women are pathetic.
Enjoyment: 2 points
In light of that belief, this anime did nothing but piss me off.
It is hard for me to enjoy something that harshly degrades and stereotypes people.