What’s it about ?
Adaptation of a 18-volume (and counting) romance manga. Obviously, some degree of compression and creativity was needed to fit some of it into such a short format.
Haruto Kirishima, our generic male lead. Lives in a small country town.
Yuzuki Eba, a Tokyo girl who randomly decided to live at Haruto’s (the flashback is too vague to determine the exact circumstances), to his irritation. Presumably one thing eventually led to another, because the actual story here is that she’s now gone back to live in Tokyo, and they have kept a long-distance relationship over the last few months. Today he comes to Tokyo on a class trip, and they’re planning on finally meeting again.
Nanami Kanzaki, a classmate of Haruto’s whom he used to have a crush on. After presumably months of awkward love triangle, she eventually settled for them being just friends. Anyway, she’s also part of the class trip, and asks him to play the role of her boyfriend while she meets with one of her friends (to whom she bragged a bit too much). There’s absolutely no way for this to backfire !
Akari Kaga, said friend. It’s obvious she’s not entirely fooled by Nanami’s stunt.
Perfectly serviceable. Some nice bits of scenery porn, even.
Let’s be frank : the first half of this episode is fairly dull, as the two leads struggle to set up their meeting in a very boring way. Neither of them come off as particularly interesting here.
But this completely change once Nanami enters the picture. It’s charming how she scrambles to reinvent a happy relationship with Haruto despite things not having turned some well (as some judiciously chosen flashbacks show while illustrating her unreliable narration). There’s some genuine chemistry and drama in this very well-designed scene, even when you can plainly see the inevitable cliffhanger coming from the moment it starts.
It’s always a risky choice to adapt a long-running manga by choosing a storyarc set quite late in the overall story ; you can alienate a lot of potential viewers with convoluted relationships between characters they’ve not gradually grown familiar with (hello, Wandering Son !). This OVA avoids nicely the trap by focusing on the essentials of the relationship between the three leads, and making its particular story stand on its own. While it does matter that those three have a lot of history together (presumably detailed in numerous manga volumes I haven’t read), all you need to know is summed up perfectly in a way that seamlessly builds into the plot. The more I think about it, the more I can’t help by admire it.
Hopefully the concluding episode will live up to such a promising start.