Mio Hagiwara is a 14-year-old TV actress who has gotten popular. One day on a set, she meets Ichiya Kumagai, who tells her that her acting "stinks". Mio is hurt by his comments, but she finds that she can't get Ichiya out of her mind. It turns out that Ichiya is a promising director, who directed a music video for Mio's friend Aya Sawaki, an idol singer. After the success of this music video, Ichiya is asked to direct a movie, and he wants Mio to be the heroine, because he feels that she is a "handsome" girl like the actresses of old. How will Mio cope with her feelings toward Ichiya?
Like many Ribon OAVs, Handsome Girl was made to promote the manga it was based on. At the time this OAV was made, the original manga was in its fourth year of running in Ribon, and so Shueisha felt they had to capitalize on the success of the series, Wataru Yoshizumi's very first series, by making an OAV. Since then, the fame of Yoshizumi-sensei's works that she did after Handsome Girl - especially the series right after it, Marmalade Boy - has increased, but this OAV and the manga it is based on are now long-forgotten, at least by Western anime and manga fans.
So, how does this OAV fare today?
Well, the characters are certainly likable, although they feel a bit generic. We have Our Heroine™, Our Hot Bishie Hero Who Looks A Lot Like Yuu™, The Heroine's Best Friend Who Looks Like Ami From Sailor Moon™, The Guy Who Speaks Osaka Dialect™, etc. Given that this OAV is only 37 minutes long, not a lot of time is given to really develop these characters. Such is the hazard of making one OAV based on a 9-volume series, I guess.
As for the plot, well, as another review I read of this OAV points out, it is rather unrealistic. Of course, this is a direct-to-video anime aimed at 10-year-olds, but really... a high-schooler like Ichiya, even a very talented one, approached by a major corporation to make a big-budget movie? That's kind of hard to believe. And Mio doesn't really strike me as a "handsome" type either - just a blonde Miki Koishikawa. Still, it's not terribly doinky, and it moves along quickly. And for an OAV based on a then-currently-running manga, it does stop at a good spot.
The art and animation are what you would expect for a 1991 OAV, and the character designs are faithful to Wataru Yoshizumi's style circa 1988. Shueisha even bothered to get some actual decently-known seiyuu for the cast, including Sakiko Tamagawa and Hiroko Kasahara as Mio and Aya. The three songs featured in the OAV, while a bit dated nowadays, are well sung.
All in all, this OAV is a lot better than most other Ribon OAVs, but it's not the best either. And when it comes to Wataru Yoshizumi works, it certainly seems a lot better than Random Walk. It's an average show, however, I guess it succeeded at its purpose, because it did make me want to read the manga.
Like Baby Love, this is a pretty average Ribon OAV. Add a star if you're a humongous fan of all Yoshizumi Wataru works. — Jennifer Berman
Recommended Audience: This OAV was originally aimed at 6 to 12 year old girls. As such, there is pretty much nothing objectionable in it. No sex, no nudity, no fanservice, no graphic violence, nothing. It would be suitable for children, although probably older children might like it better.
Version(s) Viewed: digital source
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Handsome Girl © 1991 Wataru Yoshizumi / Shueisha / JC Staff
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