A pretty prequel OVA expanding on the backstory of the heroine Chise. Although it does work as a standalone, the story mainly consists of an array of tropes you’ve probably seen a dozen times already, resulting in an unsatisfying experience if watched as a standalone. But the OVA does contain a few glimpes of greatness that we’ll hopefully see more of in the main series, namely the Slice of Life-sequences interwoven with a peaceful blend of magic and very sweet and light humor.
[Warning: The rest of this review contains spoilers!]
The main part of the OVA consists of Chise’s “backstory” which unmistakably resembles Natsume Yuujinchou, by like a lot. The story also runs parallel to the story of the book that starts this whole ordeal, which can be divided into three parts:
Chise can see what I assume are magical beings, and she is terrified by them. Her mother ends up killing herself, those in the family taking her in want her to disappear. All because she can see things that others can’t.
The lonely star in the night sky is all alone in the darkness, sad and in despair.
She stumbles upon a library, books are her escape from reality. While Chise is often shown looking down on the ground, she gradually opens up and starts looking upwards, she learns to “see the light” so to speak, although she doesn’t yet acknowledge it. The librarian first shows her that she can find light, similar to the being talking to the lonely star.
The third and final part of the book is the part that Chise does not end up reading, the part where the lonely star assumedly finally opens his eyes and starts looking for and finding friends. However, as we have seen earlier (and will again see later), she has found a new home and new hope.
It’s really a simple story, a story of a tragic heroine that runs parallel to the story of a book the protagonist once read and ends up finding again, which marks the end of the story.
I have seen this story done many times, especially in Manga, and I assume most of you will have, too. While simple, it does it’s job which is fine, but honestly the OVA goes a little hard on the “tragic heroine”, to a degree that can be annoying at times.
Sadly, I have neither read the manga nor seen the main series (which has not yet aired) before watching this. As a result, the characters are all fairly flat and while it’s easy to get the general gist of the relationships of the characters, I think knowing more about the heroine Chise would have been beneficial, as there definitely is a fair amount of character progression between the younger Chise and the adolescent Chise we see during this show’s runtime. This very much is a Chise OVA. None of the other characters are developed further than a necessary point, which is a shame but understandable since this is just a supplementary OVA.
The main strength of this OVA is it’s usage of color as a storytelling tool.
The coloring doesn’t just support the scene like it usually does, it takes centerstage in the show’s emotionally strongest moments which I’m eager to see more of.
As this is a tragic heroine story, the shoujo-esque art style is very fitting, but it isn’t necessarily anything groundbreaking.
There isn’t much animation to speak of in this OVA. Most of the time it’s just a mix of panning techniques and zooming several layers at different speeds to create the sensation of movement. When there is animation however, it’s mostly just three to four frames of eyes glimmering, shining, whatever you wanna call it.
The few times where there actually is something animated, it looks really crisp and fluid.
That being said, the cinematography overall is quite strong which I hope will translate to the main series as well.
As usual for anime and audiovisual media in general, the music takes more of a supporting role.
Standout moments are those where the background music is absent. When the music constantly and calmly supports the show all the way and suddenly it is missing, it is very noticeable and creates a feeling of uneasiness which works wonders. Unfortunately, the rest of the music isn’t noteworthy. There are no standout pieces, and all of the pieces would work in any other series trying to convey the same emotions, which is a shame.
Watch this as a supplementary OVA either while watching or after completing the main series. While it works as a standalone, it is definitely carried by the contrast of young Chise from this OVA and adolescent Chise from the main series.