Kimagure Orange Road OAV
These episodes are a sequel to the TV series and a prequel to the movies. Individual episodes will be discussed in the review text.
Though these were released in the early 1990s, chronologically these features actually take place between the TV series and the movie. While these specials show occasional flashes of the storytelling brilliance that characterizes KOR, they don't have the benefit of a long run of episodes or true continuity to distract from when individual outings go bad.
Unlike the television version of KOR, the OAVs take short snippets of later parts of the manga - most episodes feel more like vignettes than real stories in their own right. Granted, this series was meant primarily to cash in on the lingering nostalgia value of the TV series fandom, and it does succeed at that to an extent. But they're really not a good place to start the series from, despite the slightly better animation -- you do need the context of the TV series to really enjoy these episodes.
The series begins with "I Was A Cat, I Was a Fish" and "Hurricane Akane The Shapechanging Girl", which are fairly average diversions that have the animation quality and enjoyment value of the TV series. Kyousuke's tomboy cousin Akane is amusing, but she's a fairly stereotypical character in the end. Nothing to write home about, really.
However, the second volume should just be left on the shelf. You see, the TV series may have the horrendous (but ultimately forgivable) "Madoka the Pick" subplot, but the OAV series has found something worse: "Hawaiian Suspense". This episode features the gang going to Hawaii and running into a bunch of kidnappers who take Hikaru for ransom in a case of mistaken identity. Yeah.
It's a bad enough idea (and a cheap excuse for Kyousuke to use his psychic powers while ogling Madoka and Hikaru in swimsuits), but the "English" dialogue in this episode rivals Clash of the Bionoids in sheer badness - the kidnappers speak in horribly stilted Australian accents, and Tsuru (Madoka) Hiromi's English in this episode is remarkably subpar considering that her character is supposed to have spent quite some time in America. If you really want to see fan service Madoka in a swimsuit, I recommend buying a KOR art book instead of the VHS release that includes this episode. Really.
The immediately preceding episode, White Lovers, is little better - a by-the-numbers "skiing episode" dealing with (gasp!) an avalanche and (shock!) a legend about lovers meeting a violent end - an episode that would be retold again and again as filler for other series like Sailor Moon and Marmalade Boy.
The third volume returns to slightly-above-average romance drama with the "Heart on Fire" story arc, which features singer Hayakawa Mitsuru getting into the mixed up relationships, amid the whole 80s pop idol scene.
The fourth volume has an "Unexpected Situation" with tomboy Akane trying to impress her friends by having Kyousuke pose as her boyfriend, but the true gem here is "Message in Rouge", in which Madoka runs away from home after she is led to believe that her father may not be entirely faithful. She runs to Kyousuke ... and asks to spend the night. Out of the whole series of OAVS, the final one is far and away the best of the lot - touching, poignant, and leaving you with no doubt as to where Kyousuke's real feelings lie.
So in the end, this series is a mixed bag in its truest definition - you've got the highs ("Message in Rouge") and the lows ("Hawaiian Suspense") in a single run. If anything stays consistent in this series, it is the animation, better than the TV series but still dated; and the music, which includes some of the best anime songs ever made.
In the end, these OAV episodes are best left to the diehard KOR fans, though "Message in Rouge" can (and probably should) be viewed independently of the rest.
A truly mixed bag. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: About the same as the TV series, as there is some violence and innuendo, but not enough to merit extreme amounts of supervision.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (8/8)
Kimagure Orange Road OAV © 1991 Izumi Matsumoto / Shueisha / NTV / Toho / Studio Pierrot
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