Yuzuru was an average teenager who had almost forgotten that he was betrothed to Azusa when he was only six! Now arriving to claim what she feels is rightfully hers, only Satomi (Yuzuru's current girlfriend) stands in her way... and with the mysterious and frightening powers that Azusa brings, Satomi won't stand in her way for long!
Classic yandere with a bit of a paranormal twist. It was an interesting idea, but I felt that the introduction of ghosts raised a lot more questions than it answered. The ghosts were obviously introduced in order to explain Azusa's clearly psychotic behavior, but were given no explanation themselves. I would have at least liked a small back story showing how Azusa came to be posessed. Surely she wasn't always that way, or was she? We had an interesting flashback to childhood, but it isn't clear whether the posession began then, or if it did, why it begin then?
My own crackpot theory: I
think it would have made more sense if the ghosts were actually hallucinations caused by post traumatic stress from her troubled past. Seriously, why on Earth would ghosts make someone try to kill off their romantic rival? It's gotta be in her head. >.>;
Other than my gripes with the ghosts, the story was basically a stock yandere plot, where the victim is the romantic rival. If you've ever seen the live action Japanese horror movie "Audition", it's a little like that (but with ghosts -_-;).
Although the art and animation seems to be roughly standard for its time, I thought that the dark tones and contrast really helped bring about the "horror" feel.
Aside from our one yandere character, none of the characters really go through much character development. That is to say that although their reactions to the situation is more or less realistic, they come off as feeling rather flat. Aside from which, the character setup is a bit stereotypical - A love triange: One yandere, one tsundere, and one mediocre male who gets two interesting girlfriends (lucky guy XD).
I have to say, I was disappointed! As Rumiko Takahashi is one of my favorite mangaka, I was expecting something rather better than this. Although I enjoyed the horror to a certain extent, willing suspension of disbelief was broken rather often. (And as you can tell from the above rant, those ghosts really bother me XD)
Overall, it was a reasonably enjoyable tale. Can't say that I'm a big fan of the ghosts, but as a pscychological thriller, this does pretty decently.
Takahashi, the "Queen of Manga", is best known for her long-running and influential series such as Urusei Yatsura, Ranma 1/2 and Maison Ikkoku. Hundreds upon hundreds of episodes spanning four decades. It is these comedies that are the mark of her career.
But, in the deep shadows of these giants, Takahashi has also done a handful of dramatic/horror stories, such as this entry in the Rumic World series. But since all the money and all the fame went to the funny shows, these little gems are almost forgotten.
It's a shame, because I prefer her more
serious works. Laughing Target is a single-episode, self-contained OVA, about two teenagers reuniting after having been promised to each other in their youth, and the insane supernaturally-charged jealously that is the result when the story doesn't start with "happily ever after".
While it's nothing exceptional, it is a good, tight story with some chilling scenes, the standard Takahashi character designs and mid-grade eighties animation. And for the modern anime viewers that are always looking for those hard-to-find 'yandere' characters, this will fit right up your alley.
"Laughing Target" is an adaptation of a one-shot written by Rumiko Takahashi. I have read the manga years ago, but my memories of it are rather vague, the only thing I can say is that the Anime is toned down in violence and gore, in comparision. But it has to be confirmed as it could just be my imagination.
For the story itself, I have two three things to say that appear odd and convenient to me (like the protagonist going to read a book with photographies in the middle of the night). But overall, I wasn't
too particularly bothered.
Overall, I appreciated the "old story telling style". As a work of the 80th, it didn't follow the now modern trend of "telling", prefering to "show" iinstead. That lack of "holding hands" (which has become too common it seems), though, could be an issue for people not used to it. For example, not realizing that the 2-3 first minutes basically "shows" you how one chara is possessed, or "showing" you what the ghosts (introduced in the same 2-3 minutes) represent and are. Now, it should be pretty self-explanatory, it isn't like it is even trying to be subtle about it, but some people seem to need to be told everything through words nontheless.
In an era where "horror" mainly rhymes with jumpscares and gore, watching an old style horror felt really good. It might not be for everyone though.
As a last warning though, if you're familiar with Rumiko's work and expect something different, the answer is "no" ; it uses components you can find in most of her work, not only when it comes to story and characters, but also chara design.
Another "old style" thing here, or rather "archaic" in comparision : some of you might be aware that, in terms of literature, "psychology" and "chara development" are at the same time recent and not an obligation. It solely depends of the aim of said work. You nailed it, this story possesses function-characters ; so it's useless to expect any type of psychology or chara development.
My only real issue is that the chara design are too basic in the sense they could be mixed with other charas she created. And I shall continue on the art departement in the next part.
When it comes to the art and animation, they have aged. That's for sure ; and I had sometimes issues with it (though it's a personal issue and not a formal issue).
What is well done though, is the "filming" : the choices of colours, contrast, the angles chosen, they all serve their purpose well. The flashback scene is especially memorable, starting in white and black only and later on red taking over.
Once again, the treatment of it might appear outdated to some as silence has a much bigger place in old animes (and visual fictions in general) for nowadays standards. The sounding is effective, overall, but the soundtracks are quite forgettable, they just do their job.
The voice acting is ok, neither outstanding nor bad.
A nice horror OVA. No, really, that's all I have to say about it. But as I pointed out, it isn't for everyone, because of its age rather than the concept itself, which is quite amusing, in a way.