May 7, 2022
“Hidari no O'Clock!!” is a coming-of-age story that is engaging and largely competently made, although its plot is laden with melodrama and cliches.
The 2-episode OVA is split into 4 separate parts, and centers on Yuu, a high schooler who basically has a midlife crisis and doesn’t see the point in taking tests, going to school or even waking up in the morning. Encouraged by his older sister, he dusts off his old motorbike and decides to ride across Japan, with the country’s northernmost point as his first goal. He makes lots of mistakes along the way, but also makes friends and helps people he comes
across with their various issues, all the while thinking of Aoi, his childhood friend back home who has a crush on him.
The first part, which sets up the story, is arguably the strongest of the bunch, but the other three parts, which show him traveling across Japan and helping people he encounters, aren’t bad; they’re just full of predictable conclusions and saccharine melodrama. They have the kind of storylines you’ve probably seen played out dozens of times before, and the last part in particular borders on unbelievable at times with how neatly everything is wrapped up.
Since this is only two episodes, the characters don’t get too much development and are essentially one-dimensional, with the exception of the main character, Yuu. He changes a bit too quickly, but some of that could be attributed to time skips within the OVA itself. He starts as someone who’s rather despondent and emotionless, and then suddenly is outspoken and freely talking to strangers and even getting involved in their lives, and it’s kind of a jarring change. Aoi is your typical model student and childhood-friend-of-the-main-character-who-has-a-crush-on-them type you often see in anime. Yuu’s parents basically leave most of the parenting to his older sister, Moe, who often enlists her friend Tetsuo to help Yuu out. These two characters are likable. Most of the characters Yuu meets on his journey are okay, and Koichi, who travels with him, is somewhat annoying and a stereotypical Kansai person, but he grows on you after a while.
The technical aspects of this series are all above average. The voice acting is decent; the music is catchy and nostalgic, with a bit of a 1960s feel; the animation is pretty good, especially during the motorcycle riding scenes; the character designs are very shoujo-like and appealing (typical Kaoru Shintani designs), and the direction is good.
There is not a whole lot of objectionable content in this OVA, at least visually. There is some slight inadvertent nudity shown briefly, some accidental inappropriate touching of female characters, and a character just casually smoking inside a hospital. In the dialogue, there are a number of sexist remarks that are played off as being cute or funny, particularly one where a policeman says to a couple that the father of one of them, who just approved their marriage, wants to see a grandchild ASAP. Most of this objectionable content can be attributed to the time this OVA came out.
Overall, “Hidari no O’Clock!!” is a decent OVA, although it would have been nice if there was at least one more episode (it ends on a good note, but the story feels incomplete). Currently there is no English-language version available, but this series seems like prime fansubbing material, so hopefully there will be an English version at some point in the future. If cliches and melodrama don’t bother you, and you like seeing a character traveling around the country to find themselves, give this one a try.
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