As the end of her third year of high school approaches, Fujisaki Shiori has yet to confess to the guy she loves. Will she be able to work up the nerve before it's too late? And who is the mysterious girl who called her, mistaking her number for the number of a boy that she likes?
Tokimeki Memorial fans are going to kill me for saying this, but this OAV is sub-par and a waste of time. I’ve been playing Tokimeki Memorial as long as I’ve been watching anime, and I’ve seen very, very few animated projects as out-and-out disappointing as this.
One of the greatest aspects of the games was, to me, the humor. Whether you’re fighting a giant bear, getting bombed for accidentally calling Shiori "sexy", seeing a girl scream as an evil-looking koala climbs on her back, or getting slapped for answering a question wrong, there was something funny. But there are also times when it could get quite serious or dramatic, like the spin-off Drama Series games that focuses on principal characters Saki, Ayako, and Shiori, respectively. It’s never too heavy-handed, though, and there are still lots of funny, cute moments in those games. Another thing that made the series so popular was the variety of girls you could choose to date and win. Even if you didn’t like Shiori, you could still date the cheerful Yuko, the childish Yumi, mad scientist Yuina, the shy Miharu, the quiet Mio, and so forth.
But have you ever wondered what would happen if Tokimeki Memorial played it almost straight, with humor only making up maybe 15% of everything going on, and the rest being entirely revolved around central heroine Shiori, with 4 or 5 minute bits involving the other girls that don’t tie in whatsoever to the main plot involving Shiori?
You'd have the Tokimeki Memorial OAV.
Even outside of the context of the games, this OAV is boring and often loses focus. It’s supposed to be about Shiori confessing to the guy she likes, the one she’s known for years and is the childhood friend of. However, it seems like Studio Pierrot wants to do anything but. There are there three or four (mostly unresolved) sub-plots involving the more popular girls in the series continuously running in and out of the main plot, but why? Also, why does Shiori start a music club at one point in the OAV? Why are we watching Yoshio being kicked out of the Christmas club because he’s not wearing the appropriate attire? Why does the opening theme from the games play in the beginning of the OAV, but we don’t get the ending theme when the OAV ends?
Another aspect is that while the OAV focuses on Shiori, they try to inject pretty much every other character as well. To me, that's one of the most annoying things about video games adapated into anime OAVs, and Tokimeki Memorial is no exception to the rule. If the subplots and other characters' scenes were included as omake at the end of the episodes or shown in full during the OAV, it would be fine. Instead, the flow goes turned into a case of main plot, cameo, main plot, sub-plot 1, main plot, sub-plot 2, main plot, sub-plot 1 continuation, main plot, and so forth.
Even when the story does get back into focus, you'll still have to deal with the less-than-exciting Fujisaki Shiori. She is, quite frankly, boring. She never seems to be excited about anything, doesn’t really seem to connect to the student body, doesn’t show much facial expressions, and aside from liking classical music and being great at academics and sports alike, we know almost nothing about her. Not to mention that the whole “girl’s who good at seemingly everything except for when it comes to love” angle has been done countless times before and since in dating-sim and harem series. She’s less a character as she is wish fulfillment for the Japanese otaku who play the series. You can say that about most of the girls in the series, though, but at least the other girls are more interesting and actually have their own motives.
And despite taking up much of the screen time, Studio Pierrot didn’t even bother to make Shiori look good. Her hair color always seems off, and her giant eyes, at least 2 times bigger than the games, coupled with some questionable taste in formal dressing, make her less than pleasant to look at. I could go to any Japanese Tokimeki website and find a better drawing of Shiori. Most of the other characters look better (Yumi, Yoshio, Mira), but some, like Saki and Mio, still don’t like right in the anime’s art style. They’re still better than most dating-sim anime’s character designs, mind you, but it will come as a big surprise to those who’ve only played the games.
Character designs aside, the actual art is boring. Much of the OAV takes place in a drab, generic-looking school building that could’ve easily been used in dozens of other high-school anime series. The animation is typical Studio Pierrot, which means it stinks, but it’s not like a series like this needs a big budget anyway. The music, on the other hand, is great. Along with great classical music, we get really well-done remixes of the music from the games, and we even have the widely-known Motto! Motto! Tokimeki OP theme from the games rearranged for the OAV. The voices vary, ranging from good (Shiori, Yoshio, Mio) to just plain bad (Saki, Rei).
Perhaps I’m being too harsh, especially comparing to many other review sites who like this, but they could’ve done so much more with this. One way it would’ve worked better is if Studio Pierrot followed the Sentimental Journey route and gave each girl her own episode, or dropped the sub-plots and only focused on Shiori. Heck, even simply extending the length to 4 or 5 episodes would've helped. But at the end, you're stuck with a mediocre 85-minute adaption, and a series as popular as Tokimeki Memorialdeserves better treatment than this.
But at least it's not Tokimeki Memorial: Only Love!
It's not the worst of its genre, but it's not very satisfying all the same. It has its moments, but unless you really, really, really like Shiori, this won’t be worth any Tokimeki Memorial fan's time. — Tim Jones
Recommended Audience: Not much inappropriate. Like the game series itself, it plays everything straight. Kids wouldn't understand it or would quickly get bored by it, and those who've never played the games probably won't care for it.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub.
Review Status: Full (2/2)
Tokimeki Memorial © 1999 Konami
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