[gallery columns="4" orderby="title"]
Ahh, a romance manga that I currently read has had it's 1st OVA released as part of a special edition tankobon release so of course I have to check it out! Anyone unfamiliar with this series, Kimi no Iru Machi (A Town Where You Live) is a manga currently running in Weekly Shonen Magazine since June 2008 and has already 17 volumes released.
N.B. This OVA review will discuss the plot, which can also be considered as spoilers for manga chapters so only read this you're up-to-date on the manga or don't plan to read it.
So time to take a little it of a different approach when going about reviewing an OVA, I guess the best way to do it is to explore the plot of the OVA and reference it with the plot in the manga.
The OVA's plot is taken from various chapters from 58 until 68 but with various references to earlier chapters of the manga. Overall, it focuses on a hardship/grave misunderstanding that both Yuzuki and Haruto face after they have decided to stay in a long distance relationship.
The episode actually starts off at the first time that Haruto properly and directly confessed his love to Yuzuki - a memorable scene taken straight out of the end of chapter 58 - and then the story skips to the school trip, when Haruto and his class are about to visit Tokyo for a few days (chapter 66). When Haruto arrives at Tokyo, he anxiously awaits Yuzuki who at the same time rushes to see him but is delayed and thus misses him, whilst Haruto is then told to go back to the class meeting place by Nanami. Right before the scene ends, Nanami asks Haruto for a favour.
The favour Nanami was going to ask was that Haruto pretend to be her boyfriend in front of Nanami's old classmate and Haruto agrees to it. When they meet Nanami's old friend in a restaurant, they're continuously grilled about their "relationship," all the way until Nanami's friend steps onto the train. Haruto during this last scene takes hold of Nanami's hand, in order to try and convince her friend that their relationship is real.
Just as the train passes by, Yuzuki is seen across the platform and then the duo's inner thoughts cross. Yuzuki can't seem to think anything else but the possibility that Haruto's feelings have changed.
I loved it, simple as that. The OVA was so well done that the mixture of continued conversations and constant flashbacks to the more complicated past between Haruto, Nanami and Yuzuki made this an even better watch to the point where the final scene is so emotional no other word other than "heartbreaking" can be used to describe the OVA. The deviation between the original story and the OVA lies in the OVA's plot making the characters create an air of doubt within their relationships and if someone were to watch this OVA without reading the manga they would not be able to predict what would happen in the story.
The best part about watching this is that you don't quite know who to feel sorry for: Yuzuki for what she has seen right at the end and her doubts about a long distance relationship feeling more like reality, Haruto who got dragged into this and is now probably going to loose his girlfriend over this misunderstanding or Nanami for asking Haruto to act as her boyfriend even though she still has feelings for her.
The music fit the OVA so well taking away any feeling of comedy that would be seen in the manga, the voice actors definitely fit the characters very well (more or less what I imagined them to be like) and the excerpt of the story used was great but made even better by the OVA making it into something more than just a common misunderstanding.
My only complaint, one that some fellow manga readers might agree with is that Haruto's character design doesn't seem to fit in with what we have seen in the manga and maybe even most of the characters failed to live up to their beautiful designs in the manga. I assume this was made to look slightly more shounen but in the end did have a small yet negative impact on the OVA.
Bravo and I can't wait for the second one to come out (June 15th 2012)