Saikano OVA: Another Love Song -

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Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: A+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 60
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen Letterbox
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Saikano

Saikano OVA: Another Love Song

By Luis Cruz     May 22, 2006
Release Date: May 09, 2006

Saikano OVA: Another Love Song
© Viz Media

What They Say
Chise is a cute and delicate teenage girl who was transformed into the Ultimate Weapon, even though she wants nothing more than to be a normal girl in love. As the war escalates, we see more of the fearsome destruction inflicted by her on both enemy and friend alike, and we meet the coldhearted Commander Mizuki, an earlier, less powerful version of the weapon Chise has become.

The Review!
My primary viewing session used the Japanese 5.1 track; the track provided a problem-free viewing with no discernible problems. It is also a very rich track providing directional effects through the front and back soundstage. Explosions thunder through the room while the dialogue of battle echoes from all sides. All the music, dialogue, and effects were balanced very well making for an exceptional aural experience.

Presented in a widescreen aspect ratio, Another Love Song is just as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the ears. Featuring the same vivid, warm colors as the TV series, the picture is simply gorgeous and free from any noticeable defects. The warm and sometimes soft colors give the series the atmosphere of a romantic story; when the horrors of war intrude, the colors suitably switch to highlight how tragic war and this story are.

Chise and Mizuki in their weaponized forms are pictured at sunset on rocky terrain. The title for this OVA is near the bottom along with a tiny Viz logo; this allows the artwork to dominate the cover and really catch the eye. On the reverse side, the usual disc information, story information, and credits are presented in a clean, readable format. Inside is a one sheet insert with the chapter information on side and another striking image of Chise and Mizuki on the reverse.

Chise and Mizuki flank a series of English dub clips for the main menu; an instrumental piece plays in the background. Menu items are along the bottom of the screen. Transition delays between menus are negligible. In an extremely odd move, Viz has the audio selection and subtitle selection in two separate menus; this is most annoying considering the standard, even for Viz titles, is to have them together. Why the extra steps for subtitle users to get setup?

Included in the case are five large postcards bearing images from the OVA; they look so good that I cannot imagine anyone actually mailing these off. A Japanese promo clip is also included along with a slide show of production art.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Saikano was one of the most emotional and touching series I have seen in quite some time. Chise was a normal high school girl just wanting to be with Shuji, the one boy she loved. Her life was tragically altered when she was chosen to be Japan's ultimate, living weapon. The TV series focused more on Chise and Shuji's relationship while leaving the details of Chise's military life left vague. This OVA Another Love Song seeks to illuminate some of these details.

The story opens up with an aerial assault on the Japanese coast; a familiar flash of light heralding the invading forces' destruction. As the weapon turns back the enemy and lands at an army base, we see that the weapon is not Chise; we are instead introduced to Lt. Col. Mizuki, the first test subject in Japan's effort to create an ultimate, living weapon. Having lost her battalion and her leg in combat, she willingly sacrificed the rest of her body to be implanted with the weapon cells that drive her power.

While recuperating from her wounds, Mizuki begins to hear a strange voice in her head calling out for "Shu-chan". Mizuki soon learns that the voice belongs to Chise, the only candidate available that can adapt to the weapon cells. Mizuki also learns that her own abilities have reached their limit forcing the military to pin their hopes on the fragile, young Chise.

With the main thrust of the plot established, we watch as Chise's powers grow powerful while her will to fight weakens. Mizuki attempts to establish in Chise the same sense of duty, honor, and sacrifice Mizuki has used as the cornerstones of her life. However, Chise's youthful innocence reminds Mizuki that one fights and sacrifices themselves not for duty or honor but for the ones they love.

The counterpoint between the two weaponized women proves to be more intriguing than any of the details about the weapon project or Chise's military life. We watch as Mizuki realizes that some sacrifices are far too great despite how lofty the ideal is. In the end, Mizuki passes on a lesson to Chise that came from Chise's own feelings; at the end, you must be with the one you love.

But, this is a lesson that was already covered enough in the TV series. This OVA does little to provide new insight into the characters or the storyline. That is not to say that Another Love Story is poorly written or flawed in some way. It had a set goal for its story, and it reached it in an entertaining and touching fashion. Sometimes though, it is best to leave things left off-screen to the viewer's own imagination rather than trying to fill it in later. This was a decent story, but it just did not make me feel it was one that needed to be told.

In Summary:
Another Love Story serves the dual purpose of illuminating Chise's life under military guidance along with contrasting her unwillingness to fight with one who has dedicated their life to fighting. While this side story connects well to the main TV story and features some good moments, it falls a bit short of enhancing the overall Saikano saga. The contrast between the hardened soldier Mizuki and the naïve Chise was the highlight of the OVA, but it felt like the ground being covered was already done quite well in the TV series.

It was touching and emotional at times watching Chise and eventually Mizuki struggle with their desire to be loved rather than to be a weapon. Yet, this was one story that did not feel like it had to be told. One definitely must view the TV series before picking up this title, but even then it might be worth renting first to see if it should be added to one's collection.

Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles, Production Art, Japanese Promos, Clean Opening and Ending

Review Equipment
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Panasonic RP-82, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and optical audio cable


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