This OVA is really all about Sawa Ryochimo, the director, AD and character designer. A look at his résumé shows that at the tender age of 32, he’s already worked on a startling number of important and excellent series. Whilt Hoshi no Ume is his first work as the director-in-charge, he’s proven himself a visual artist of distinction and style. While it’s obvious that Tatsunoko didn’t give this show a lot of budget, it has a wonderfully retro look, like a manga come to life (ironic, as this looks much less like the Yozakura Quartet manga than the inferior TV series did). If you’re familiar with the look of the Tetsuwan Birdy TV series, you’ll have a pretty good idea of the look of this OVA.
That’s not to say the story isn’t engaging – in fact, it’s remarkably involving under the circumstances. It’s awfully hard to hit the ground running with seven or eight months between releases, and Yasuda Sazuhito’s manga is a tangled mess of characters moving their way through a complex storyline. But – especially in the OVA version – the characters are likeable and interesting enough that it’s hard not be swept up a little. As I said in my last review, it’s really a shame that Ryo-timo wasn’t in charge of the TV series, which suffered from terrible pacing and a somewhat generic animation style. I’d love to have seen what he could have done with this material with a full cour to play with, rather than three OVA episodes.