Prior knowledge: AnoNatsu Original Series
Depending on what you thought of the parent series you might have been all for this special episode or ignoring it outright. The original series was a good example of teenage love triangles. It wasn’t afraid to be melodramatic in its conflict and resolutions. That said, seeing such overblown interactions can be painful and rather annoying to watch for some viewers. And make no mistake, there’s a lot of conflicts like this. Which is why AnoNatsu may not be for everyone. Though these were the elements that pulled me towards liking this show in the first place. Those that watched and loved the series would be eagerly anticipating this special thanks to that final scene from the original. So, does the AnoNatsu Special create the same feeling of reminiscence and sentiment prevalent in the parent series?
The short answer is no.
And now for the long answer.
One excellent example of an OVA would arguably be the Steins;Gate OVA. It expands from the original plotline and nails a definite conclusion between Okabe and Kurisu’s relationship while at the same time showing off the points that made the original show entertaining. Another one would be Mirai Nikki’s OVA. Whether or not the messed up direction it took towards the final last episodes was appropriate, I can confidently say the OVA offered a very clear sense of closure for the two main characters creating a full circle sort of ending.
AnoNatsu’s special started off very well at first. Taking place 2 years after the events of the main series, the show gives a quick snapshot of where the main cast is after those events. Everyone has moved on and repaired their relationships while Kaito occasionally reminisces about the events from that summer. This isn’t a problem in itself. It’s only fair for Kaito to reflect on those events. However, the show does not explore the new relationships he has created the past 2 years except for one scene in a montage showing him in the film club. And this is disappointing. Kaito had been exempt from the heated conflicts of the original series and the OVA did not take the opportunity to explore his character further. In that sense, the Kaito seen in the special may be no different from 2 years ago. That is alarming lack of character development for the main character.
Unfortunately, the time that could’ve been given to Kaito’s newfound relationships and past internal struggle are instead wasted on fanservice and jokes that have been rehashed. The entire middle third of the special is a flashback footage which didn’t appear in the original show, yet used the same ‘joke’ (Lemon getting everyone drunk). It’s sloppy writing and shows the writers had no idea how to fill in that gap. There’s no need to spend 8 to 10 minutes showing a flashback footage that Kaito had played. We already know he liked, and still likes, Ichika and in reality it only needs a couple of minutes to reinforce Kaito’s feelings about this to the audience. Instead, the final third of the show is where we see Kaito’s melancholy as he talks with Kanna and by this point in time it’s no longer needed considering the massive exposition we got about Kaito’s nostalgia. It’s odd to think that Mio and Tetsuro gets 50 times more character progression than Kaito did.
Maybe the most frustrating thing about this special is the final minutes where it is simply a reiteration of the final moments of the original last episode. A subtle hint or implication that Ichika can come back to Earth. While we now know for certain she comes back to Earth, it was something viewers already knew. It wasn’t new information. It wasn’t surprising. And it was shown in the same way as before! It doesn’t create the heartfelt feeling like in the original ending because we already knew all this. Yes. Personally I am upset there wasn’t a reuniting scene between Kaito and Ichika. But the problem is that viewers already know the ending which means the OVA must be able to display the conclusion in a different way. And a reuniting scene would have been a simple and effective way of doing it. It takes what viewers already know and gives proper closure compared to having it being inferred. And hell, the last few episodes of Kaito and Ichikia going all lovey-dovey was adorable to see, so there’s no reason to not put that in this special!
Despite the writers questionable decisions, one thing I like about the OVA was the creative decision to get both the same artists from the original series to do the OP and ED. It sets a familiar tone for the show and reflects on the idea of nostalgia and waiting. I particularly like the ED’s uncanny resemblance to the original ED (Vidro Moyou). A subtle decision which I liked.
For those expecting the concrete closure on this teen romance space sci-fi tale you’ll be sorely disappointed. The OVA doesn’t add anything new between the main couple and actually explores more on its side characters. Lazy writing, unnecessary fanservice and reused jokes make the special lackluster and ultimately, not worth watching.