I haven’t read either of the manga series for this, so this review is purely from the 4 episodes OVA point of view. Warning contains minor story spoilers
The four 15 minute episodes which make up this OVA don’t have a common plot or story between them , more to say the OVA’s seem like they are introducing the main characters for a longer anime or OVA series which is yet to come. In saying that the stories do seem to be in chronological order, in the same city and it is set sometime in the future. The other main characters are also sometimes involved with the introductions to the other episodes main characters. The episodes break down as thus;
Episode 1 – Introduction to Mihai – This shows Mihai’s return to the unnamed city for the first time after being fired from the mafia he was working for 20 years previously. Through this he has to deal with many elements of his past which he left there, including his former protégé.
Episode 2 – Introduction to Badou – The episode is a change of pace from the first episode, the first episode having been gritty and emotional, this is a rather humorous romp through Badou’s character. Badou is an information gatherer, but when he mucks up his abseiling whilst gathering information he ends up getting more information than he can handle. This is probably the weakest of the four stories and I just don’t feel it fits in, especially when he seems to have been given a character shield, although this is offset by the humorous nature of the episode, compared to the other episodes darker and more realistic settings, this can’t help but feel out of place.
Episode 3 – Introduction to Naoto - This reverts back to the more gritty atmosphere of the first episode, and shows Naoto being taken in by a skilled knife as a child user after her parents are murdered by a skilled knife user. Themes of revenge and confused feelings run through this episode, as well as introducing some very interesting characters – this is probably the best episode of the OVA series.
Episode 4 – Introduction to Haine – We are brought into the Haine arc knowing a little about him from what was said at the end of the previous episodes and also with him having been contacted by Badou already. Haine has a few special abilities which make him a slightly different proposition from the rest of the characters shown in the OVA, the story revolves round him taking pity on a genetically engineered girl and trying to save her. Haine is probably the character with most room for expansion out of the main characters set so it’ll be interesting to if they make a longer series how it will turn out.
The artwork is the industry standard for the current production run of animated series and looks like many of its contemporise – the characters are well animated and the backgrounds are all suitably drawn. There is no animation that stands out as being different or excellently drawn, but this goes along with its gritty and somewhat humorous attitude to the series, it works out well.
Hard to fault the sound either the series is well produced and has good voice acting/lip sync (a real annoyance when its slightly off) , the music pieces played through the anime are to a good standard are occur at locations where they add emotion or tension to the scene. As the series is 15 minutes long, there is no OP per se, but the ED is rather nifty and a good listen.
This seems to be the main point behind the OVA, the introduction to the unique blend of characters which make up the show, with each of the main characters getting their own episode to ‘introduce’ themselves. The mix of characters seem like they complement each other well Mihai being somewhat older than the rest, but his experience on top of his still top drawer abilities make him something of a legend in the city. Compared to Badou – who is definitely the comic relief, but also can show a serious side when out of tobacco, this contrasts nicely and any moments can be brought to a comic conclusion through his actions.
The most interesting characters were Naoto and Heine – both have some pretty big issues but watching them in the episodes you can already tell that there is something rather special waiting round the corner when they are on screen.
This is a very enjoyable series to watch, at just 15 minutes, you can whizz through the entire set in an hour as I did. The episodes actually seem longer than 15 minutes, so much happens in each one, and on more than one occasion I was checking to see they weren’t going to miss out the action scenes, which they didn’t. The only problem I had whilst watching it was knowing that this is as far as I was going to get in watching these chatacers, that there wasn’t anything to watch after I’d finished the OVAs.
I would highly recommend this series of OVAs to anyone – but I would warn them that due to the unfinished feel of the series they may want to pick up the manga instead or wait till further series are announced. If this does become the precursor to a longer series this should mean the anime goes straight into the action without the need for introducing everyone.
I for one am going to pick up the manga and read it, because I can’t wait for the next series to be announced