Mania Grade: A-
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- Audio Rating: A
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: N/A
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: B-
- Age Rating: 15 & Up
- Region: 2 - Europe
- Released By: Manga UK
- MSRP: 19.99
- Running time: 50
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen Letterbox
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Saikano
She, The Ultimate Weapon: Another Love Song OVA
By Bryan Morton
December 13, 2006
Release Date: January 29, 2007
She, The Ultimate Weapon: Another Love Song OVA
What They Say
© Manga UK
Before Chise became an ultimate weapon...Captain Mizuki was a dedicated soldier injured in the line of duty. Unable to return to the battlefield to defend her country, she volunteers for an experimental program which will turn her into a cyborg weapon. When it becomes clear that Mizuki has reached the limit of her powers, the army recruits ordinary high school student Chise to transform her into an even greater, though far more psychologically fragile, weapon. Mizuki and Chise are bonded together through fate and technology! Mizuki can hear Chise's thoughts and she knows what the commanders do not: the true toll of being an ultimate weapon of destruction. This is Mizuki and Chise's story.The Review!
She, the Ultimate Weapon gets an OVA outing, that takes us back to Chise's time with the military and takes a look at the events leading up to her running away with Shuji. Shuji-haters will be pleased to know he's got no speaking part in this story, while the ultimate weapon herself gets to share the screen with her prototype. As if one female weapon of mass destruction wasn't enough...Audio:
Audio is provided in Japanese and English 5.1 versions - for this review, I listened to the Japanese track. Good use is made of the available channels to bring a real depth to events, with voices and effects coming from all directions, reflecting the on-screen action. The are no obvious problems.Video:
As for the TV series, video for this release is presented in 1.78:1 letterboxed widescreen. Fortunately, subtitles are within the main picture so owners of widescreen TVs can use picture zoom to lose the black bars without losing the subtitles with them. A lot of care & attention has been put into the animation, and it really looks the part, with well-detailed backgrounds & good use of colour that fits the atmosphere of on-screen events. There are no visible problems with the transfer, either.Packaging:
No packaging was provided with our review sample.Menu:
The main menu features a simple image of Chise looking wistfully into the distance, with a series of clips from the show running in the background, set to a mellow piece of background music.. Both episodes are directly selectable from the main screen, and submenus are provided for language setup and extrasExtras:
Not too much here. There's a 5-minute slideshow of production artwork, and a 30-second trailer for the Japanese DVD release " and that's your lot.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Chise wasn't the army's only 'ultimate weapon' - another girl, Mizuki, was 'created' before her as a kind of prototype. While both were at the military research station where they were created, it was discovered that Mizuki could hear Chise's thoughts. Mizuki's initially disgusted by the weaknesses she perceives in Chise's mind - a career officer, she doesn't understand anything other than the need to fight, and certainly not Chise's feelings of compassion for others or her need to retain something of a normal life. Add in that Chise's abilities quickly begin to surpass her own, and it means that they don't get off to a very good start together...
As well as looking at how Mizuki and Chise completely fail to get on with each other, the first episode of this short OVA series also looks at Mizuki's relationship with Tetsu, the soldier who Chise spent a lot of time with during the TV series - the two served together earlier in the war, and at one stage she's dispatched to protect Tetsu's squadron from an enemy attack, which leads to a fairly predictable sentimental flashback sequence. She takes heavy damage while protecting him - enough to prevent her from being able to develop her abilities further. Watching Chise in action, though, helps her to understand what the military have turned them both into. Chise, meanwhile, continues to try and act like she has a normal life, but as her powers develop begins to realise that's just not going to be possible.
The real meat of the story at the beginning is how Mitsuki is dealing with Chise's arrival, and the knowledge that this bumbling little schoolgirl can somehow become far more potent a weapon than she could. She's really the lead character at this stage, and Chise feels almost like a bit part against her - although that changes for the second episode. The way they interact is very interesting, and the story is missing a lot of the angst that sometimes made the TV series hard to watch.
The second episode gives us our first look at Chise's city-slaying power - it's mentioned in awed tones in the TV series, but never seen there. Her power, and the complete lack of emotion of her "weapon" personality as it's unleashed, is a real indication of what she's become. It's quite telling that the subtitles on the Japanese release of the OVA referred to weapon-Chise as "Chise" with quote marks - as an indication that the weapon personality and the real Chise aren't the same person. If you've seen the ending of the TV series you'll know that already, but it's interesting to see that the military realised quite early on what they'd done to her. Her tablets are also referred to, when it's pointed out that they're no longer able to produce more of them - and if it hadn't been for certain events, they would have run out a lot sooner.
I'm still not sure why this OVA was titled ~Another Love Song~ - apart from some moments between Mizuki and Tetsu, 'love' is a concept that's only barely touched upon here. It's more about Chise realising what she's become, and with Mizuki's urging deciding that she wants no more to do with the military and wants to spend her final 'human' days with Shuji. While not quite up to the standard of the TV series, it's still quite a powerful story, though, and it's done in a way that feels less angsty and manipulative than the TV series did.In summary:
If you haven't seen the TV series, this won't be for you - it relies too much on knowing what's going on with Shuji and Tetsu at the time the events shown here are taking place. If you have seen SaiKano, though, you'll definitely want to pick this up - it's a great look into Chise's development, and her determination to turn her back on what she'd become. Highly recommended.
Japanese Language 5.1,English Language 5.1,English Subtitles,Japanese Promo,Production Artwork
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.