A bridge's legend tells that when two people meet on it, they will surely meet again. Momo meets a boy who doesn't believe the legend, and promises that she will meet him again to prove it. As the year passes, she comes every day to wait for him, and becomes a small part of many people's lives.
Put bluntly, this is my favourite-ever standalone OVA, and nowhere near enough people have seen it. Bridge Over Dreams is quite close to my heart despite only having watched it fairly recently and not expecting much out of it. It's best, I feel, to go into this one with as little background knowledge as possible. As such, expect little more than a brief run down at what this work excels at and why it is so close to my heart.
Have you ever heard of "Minky Momo" before? I wasn't even familiar with the name until I came across this highly obscure gem by chance. As
it turns out, "Minky Momo" was a really popular and influential magical girl anime that came out in the early '80s, and it's noteworthy for being the first magical girl anime not produced by Toei, who had previously 'owned' the genre since the late '60s. The series is also quite controversial -- at least in Japan -- for several spoilerific reasons (and scenes). There was an odd sense of 'maturity' to this series that hadn't been seen in any previous magical girl anime, and it was this 'maturity' that culminated in one of the most controversial scenes in magical girl history. Some might even say that particular parts of the franchise planted the seeds for Madoka Magica and following shows. Either way, I find it extremely odd that so many people in the West just don't know anything about this anime despite its popularity in Japan, because I strongly feel that it is a great series, starting with this OVA.
Bridge Over Dreams is the second-last part of the Minky Momo franchise to be released, and while this might take place after the first series, it isn't in any way necessary to know anything about the franchise to be emotionally in tune with this OVA. For sure, there are clear benefits with being familiar with Momo's personality and knowing what an impact losing her magic had on her beforehand -- the drama gains a lot more context and therefore weight, but I didn't learn any of this until after I had already finished it, and I can tell you that I felt the weight of Bridge Over Dreams' drama quite potently. One thing that first-time viewers won't be able to appreciate is the tone of the OVA; its atmosphere in comparison to the original series. It's unfortunate, but aside from that, this OVA is effectively standalone.
Bridge Over Dreams manages to craft a very distinctive atmosphere that, oddly enough, is more than a bit reminiscent of House of Small Cubes. Its prevailing sense of atmosphere meshes well with the themes it develops perpetually throughout the episode. This OVA is rich in characterisation -- not only Momo herself, but the other characters have plenty of personality amidst their own flaws. What I find particularly endearing about Bridge Over Dreams, however, is how it develops all of these characters primarily through its audiovisuals and implications rather than direct dialogue. These layers of subtlety add another dimension of depth to the OVA's more straightforward storytelling, which serves well to amplify character's emotions and the overall authenticity and power of the atmosphere.
Minky Momo's audiovisuals do a lot to help build a complex and engaging atmosphere. The soundwork, in particular, is quite remarkable. Not just the OST -- though it is distinctive and engaging -- but the OVA's focus on sound in general, be it a gust of wind, the crashing of waves, or merely someone biting into an apple, this work is lined with a wide range of sound effects, a crucial catalyst that works not only to convey the mindset and inner thoughts of relevant characters, but also to grab hold of viewers, soon to lose themselves in its engrossing atmosphere. It also helps that the voice actors (with particular regard to the eponymous Momo) bring a lot of emotion and energy to their roles, adding yet another layer of authenticity to the work's overall composition.
The character designs in Bridge Over Dreams are easily the weakest aspect of the OVA; the childish aesthetic seems to be a holdover from the kids-oriented TV series, though it is at least visually appealing and easy to adjust to within the first few minutes. On the flip side, I found the detailed backgrounds to be the most impressive facet of production Bridge Over Dreams has to offer, though the animation is also very smooth, with one of the best examples of its painstakingly hand-drawn animation showcased in the first two minutes. Objects have weight and respond to wind pressure in a dynamic, unpredictable way. While its production values aren't so mesmersing two decades later, they hold up quite gracefully.
All of this comes together to form one of the best atmospheres I've ever been drawn right into throughout all of the anime I have experienced, rivalling the likes of Hana to Alice: Satsujin Jiken and FLCL. The way the episode builds all of these characters up and how the passage of time is portrayed is a direct extension of the power of its atmosphere. Bridge Over Dreams thrives on its atmosphere and characters right up until the climax, where its themes take center stage. Everything culminates in a scene that will remain in my memories, most likely, for as long as I live.
I apologise, but I'm afraid I will have to end this write-up here before I detail too much of this short OVA. Chip in 40 minutes of your time and be one of the few people to have seen this little gem. Perhaps you won't love it nearly as much as I do, or perhaps you'll feel that this title simply wasn't for you, but I urge you to at least give it a shot. These 40 minutes are something I will remember fondly for a very long time, and I hope that you, dear reader, may feel even a semblance as strongly about Bridge Over Dreams as I do.
The story depicts the everyday encounters of people who walk past a certain old bridge everyday. Nicely woven into this scenario is a legend of the bridge which says that the people who meet for the first time on this bridge will meet again. The story starts off with Momo standing on this bridge waiting for someone because she too has heard of its legend. She meets a boy on the bridge who is skeptical about the bridge's legend. She however insists that it must be true and asks the boy to try to find out for themselves whether they will meet here again or
not. Thus her wait starts to meet him again. She comes to the bridge everyday but the boy doesn't. Waiting on the bridge, she observes all kinds of people walking past her everyday. She has some conversations with some of the people and comes to know that the bridge is a special place for many people who have met here. This is the aspect shown in the OVA which gave a magical touch to the short story. Momo finally meets up with the boy she met a few days ago which proves the truth of the legend. Though sadly the bridge which has seen so many encounters till now would be demolished soon. Momo sees the bridge till the end only to start another wait on the new bridge which is built parallel to this older one.
A short beautifully narrated OVA. Recommended to watch.