Yozakura Quartet – Hoshi no Umi (OVA) – 2

The OVA version of Yozakura Quartet continues to be far superior to the TV series, with Ryochimo Sawa’s signature look and direction continuing to lend a very distinctive style to this challenging manga adaptation. Unfortunately the animation quality seems to have taken a dip since the first episode, with some of the backgrounds a little fuzzy and a few jerky movements during the plentiful action sequences.

I can only assume the OVA is covering a very limited portion of the manga material (which I have not read) – the TV reportedly didn’t get through it, and the OVAs thus far are much more restrained in their pacing. The story here seems to focus much more on Rin, the ramen-cooking puppet of necromancer Zakuro. She herself, of course, appears to be the puppet of the demon Enjin, who stole the body of Ao’s brother Gin and seeks to infiltrate and apparently wreak endless havoc on the peaceful hamlet of Sakurashin, where humans and youkai co-exist in harmony.

The premise of this thing is rather complex, but with so much time passing between OVA releases I’d be lying if I said I could keep it all straight. But the TV made so little impact on me that I only recall bits and pieces of the storyline as I go – Akina’s ability to exorcise demons, Kotoha’s adorable “Gegegegegegegegegegegege!” when she launches her weapons. The main fun here is watching Sawa’s cool-looking characters inhabit his surrealistic backgrounds, engaging in snappy dialogue and well-staged battle sequences. I get just enough of a sense of character to care what’s happening to the folks on screen, though I do wish that this creative team had been behind the TV series. This material would be much better served up in weekly doses. With that said, these OVAs are really stylish and beautifully-paced – they’re exciting start to finish and well worth 28 minutes of your time. Maybe I’ll read the manga in time for the next release and really follow the plot.

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