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Saikano: Another Love Song Review

This two-part OAV (Saishu Heiki Kanojo: Another Love Song) was released in 2005 as a side story to complement the original 13-episode series.  It focuses more on the military environment and personnel associated with Chise’s role as a weapon, while not really giving us any more background about the origin of Saikano’s plotline either.  As such, I wouldn’t really say that this is required viewing, and it didn’t really offer anything new to my appreciation for the original series.  I should also point out that while the tagline of this OAV is Another Love Song, there is only a small subplot of that nature in the story.

The focus of this story is on Mizuki, a prototype weapon for the project that would eventually culminate in Chise.  Her link with Chise allows her to hear her thoughts and understand her fears and motivations.  She begins the story being wary of Chise’s personality and its unsuitability for war, but eventually ends up forming a protective bond with her through their common experiences.  Considering how intimate the nature of the original Saikano was, I don’t know if adding another character who observes from the sidelines was an effective choice.  While she is certainly believable and sympathetic, she feels a bit too disjointed from our perception of the original storyline to elicit any strong emotions.  In a way, this applies to the rest of the OAV.  A great deal of it takes place in military settings, with many explosive action scenes displaying Chise’s power as well as discussions of her ability.  Expanding the scope beyond the very personal and emotional nature of the original series may have been to its detriment, because that was certainly the most appealing part of the Saikano series, and this OAV ends up feeling a little sterile in comparison.

Art-wise, there is a noticeable improvement in production quality, but overall, Another Love Song is fairly similar in presentation to the original series. Keep in mind that this is an OAV with no content restrictions, and the crew included some scenes containing nudity that feels a little gratuitous at times – included for the sake of having it, but I wouldn’t say it’s a huge problem.  The music and sound is fairly average, and don’t really provide anything too memorable.  I did notice that the English spoken by the enemy combatants in various scenes was not as cringe-inducing as it usually is in anime.

Overall, I didn’t think it enriched my perspective on the original series, nor did it match the impact of the original story. While critics of the sometimes manipulative nature of Saikano’s dramatic moments will find that particular issue absent here, so too are the poignant moments that were so memorable from the original.  Now, one of the oft-heard complaints about the original story is the somewhat clunky plot progression and lack of true background for the story, and that isn’t really addressed here either.  I suppose I just had a hard time forming any real attachment to the events in this OAV.  The original series focused heavily on a very intimate story between the main characters while delving less into the military undertones which drove the conflict.  This OAV does the opposite and gives us a sidestory that is related to the original on the basis of those military details.  It is true that there are moments where we hear into Chise’s personality and her emotional responses to her predicament, but these moments feel too familiar to the original to offer anything new.  It is competently told, but not really a required watch even for fans of Saikano.

2 responses so far

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2 Responses to “Saikano: Another Love Song Review”

  1. anonon Jan 13th 2010

    Wonderful post as always. I wasn’t very enthusiastic about the OVAs, after reading some particularly harsh reviews of it. I must say it turned out better than I thought – but, as OVAs often are, was far less memorable than Saikano. My biggest complaint was something you mentioned; there was a lack of these wonderful, “dramatic scenes”, which made the original for me.

    On subject of dark, evocative animé, I’m wondering if you’ve ever watched Now and Then, Here and There? I haven’t been following your blog in a while, so sorry if I missed it. If you haven’t, I would love hearing your thoughts about it – it’s a very powerful series, which is altogether underappreciated (perhaps because of the misleading first few episodes). Consider this a recommendation, or something. 🙂

  2. Theowneon Jan 13th 2010

    I’ve seen “Now and Then, Here and There”. I watched it before I had a website, so I won’t write a review until I have a chance to watch it again. However, I did like the series and thought it certainly had some very great and moving moments. It wasn’t perfect in terms of writing, I thought, but overall I think it’s one of the better series out there.

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