June 24, 2011

I have probably seen this type of romance genre a thousand times. It feels the same although they repackage it differently. Non-blood related siblings, sister taking the role of mommy for the brother, living together in a house who knows where their parents are, a childhood friend that has gone far away and suddenly returned during their teenage years, rekindled love feelings… Ah, so typical but yet made me watch it. The 2003 OVA Mizuiro is no different from this.

This series is based on the adult game of the same name. As I found out, there was an earlier OVA released the year before. However that one leans towards more hentai. Phew. It’s a good thing I found out about it or else I would’ve gotten a real shock if I ever saw it. In this OVA, I read that though the story remains somewhat the same, it is tailored so that all the female heroines could fit into the story.

Episode 1
A flashback when Kenji Katase, his sister Yuki and childhood friend Hiyori Hayasaka were young. At the gachapon stand, Kenji is disappointed to get a ring instead of a yo-yo he wanted. Hiyori wanted it but Kenji didn’t like the thought of giving it to her because when a guy gives a girl a ring, it means he is proposing. Hiyori would do anything to be his bride even if this means getting and trading a yo-yo for him. Hiyori and Yuki return to the machine and manage to get a yo-yo gachapon. When the girls return to Hiyori’s house, Hiyori gives the gachapon to Yuki and wants her to give it to Kenji for her. When Kenji and Yuki return to visit Hiyori, her house is already empty. Looks like they have moved out.

In present day, Kenji and Yuki are now high school students. Yuki wakes him up for breakfast as Kenji complains about hearing some childish voice crying in his room and knows it isn’t a dream. Yuki think it’s some controlled spirit chained to something that follows him to his room. On their way to school, they meet Asami Kozu who whizzes them by in her bicycle. Since they’re running late, they make a dash and manage to make it before the school bell rings. Yuki almost trip but Kenji catches her. This has Mutsuki Shindou teasing them that they are doing lovey-dovey things because they stay under the same roof as siblings (fact is, Kenji and Yuki aren’t blood related and nobody knows this secret). Kenji gives Shindou a chop in the neck that literally paralyzes her.

In class, Kiyoka Onosaki reminds Kenji that Valentine’s Day is approaching. He scoffs off the idea of getting obligation chocolates from Yuki when his male buddies chide him for even being lucky to get chocolates unlike them who don’t even get a single one. Poor guys. That’s why they’re just side characters. Back home, Kenji asks if Yuki has a person in mind to give her chocolates and if she does, he wants her to introduce that guy to him and make sure he’s a good guy. Sister protective complex? That night as Kenji is sleeping, he is awakened by a sound of a crying girl coming from his closet. He has a tough time opening it and when he does, an airhead girl falls out. Why airhead? She’s asking who he is and how she ended up here. She then thinks he’s a kidnapper and starts getting afraid! Her crying must have been loud enough to make Yuki come in to check the commotion. Thank goodness she didn’t jump the gun but Kenji is stammering to try and explain about the situation. Yuki remembers how she and Kenji first met crying Hiyori when she was lost. They comforted her and that’s when they became friends. So this airhead girl is Hiyori? It is. Yuki is surprised she’s grown much bigger (and in certain places too). Hiyori didn’t even realize it herself till she looked in the mirror.

They try to know how she got locked in the closet. When Kenji tries to put his hands on her, he passes straight through her! OMG! A ghost! Hiyori starts freaking out thinking there is one nearby. Told you she’s an airhead. But so cute lah. Hey wait a minute. If she’s a ghost, why can’t she just pass through the closet door? Is there some sort of barrier? As they discuss things, Hiyori doesn’t have any recollections of how she got here. So they try to talk about things they know in hopes of jogging her memory like the park they first met, the amusement park by the sea and their elementary school teacher Aoki. They must be talking for so long that it is now morning. As Kenji draw open the curtains, he start to realize Hiyori fading away slowly before completely disappearing. The next morning, the siblings discuss why Hiyori appeared and notice that she showed up in her childhood clothes. Kenji gets an idea from the graduation album to ask a teacher to look up on the records.

That night, it’s that familiar “It’s dark! Let me out!” voice again. Kenji opens the closet and the all-familiar Hiyori falls out. They continue their midnight chat. Next day in class, Kiyoka teases Kenji for staying up late when he suddenly asks her belief in spirits. If he can produce proof like a photo, she will. Later Kenji calls Aoki to ask about Hiyori. He mentions she had some illness and had to transfer school to be treated. Kenji goes back to take a polaroid photo of Hiyori. He shows it to Kiyoka but she doesn’t seem amused. There is no ghost she could see in the photo! But Kenji is adamant and points it right there. Even his male buddies don’t see a thing and nothing but his room space. Kiyoka’s conclusion? He has become obsessed with that spirit!

Kenji skips class and takes a train to the hospital where Hiyori is believed to be treated. He returns home and tells Yuki what he knows about Hiyori. He adds that after asking around the neighbourhood, her condition worsened and there is a possibility that she might die soon, thus the ghost thingy. Both siblings feel gloomy. Yuki remembers the time Hiyori gave the yo-yo gachapon to her. When Yuki tried to hand it to Kenji, he was more interested to go look at some remote controlled toy. Yuki briefly put the ring on her finger and was happy for a second before starting to feel sad and finally storing it away in her drawer. It is still in her drawer today.

Episode 2
Flashback how Hiyori wanted to be Kenji’s bride and Yuki for Kenji to be pick her up like prince on a white horse. They both made a promise. On a rainy day, Yuki notices that though Hiyori has been appearing daily, she didn’t appear last night. In school during recess, Kiyoka notices Kenji’s gloominess. He asks her about the reason a spirit appears. Her reply? Go ask the spirit yourself. Makes sense. She mentions that Yuki is down too and in no time, Kenji’s male buddies take him away for interrogation. Are they some sort of unofficial Yuki Fan Club? Shindou talks to Yuki about making their own Valentine chocolates but Yuki has got lots on her mind to pay attention to what she’s saying. They both head to the store to buy ingredients.

Back home, they notice Hiyori appearing early and think perhaps she comes out early on rainy days. Hiyori thinks the reason she is here because it is fun being with them like they used to be in the past and that she loves both of them. However the reason why she can’t open the closet still remains a mystery but she did mention how Kenji locked her inside though his dad came to her rescue subsequently. Next day on their way to school, Shindou mentions her failure to make chocolates and thinks of buying something else today and try again and wants Yuki to come with her. On another rainy day, Hiyori appears early and is shocked that Kenji is studying! She suggests that after the test that all 3 of them go out on a date to the amusement park together. He agrees. Yuki is eavesdropping outside the door and starts to get worried and wonders what to do. On the morning of the test day, Kenji wonders if he had said something wrong to Hiyori like how she couldn’t touch anything so it wouldn’t be fun.

After the test, Shindou thinks she has flopped big time and pesters Yuki to come to her place to help her. Meanwhile Kenji walks back together with Asami on a rainy as they discuss about things that couldn’t be done on a rainy day and even so, should make some special memories on a day like this. Back home, Hiyori wishes Kenji happy Valentine’s Day so he decides to take her to the amusement park this instant. They have a swell time together. Hey wait a minute. As a ghost, how can Hiyori touch and feel all the rides? After Yuki is done at Shindou’s place, she goes to see Aoki who has called her. He couldn’t help think about Kenji’s call that day and help out. He gives her a book from Hiyori from her last teacher. Yuki reads its contents and learns about Hiyori’s dream. Due to her bad health, she changed school many times doesn’t have lots of friends. But she was able to make 2 of them and really loved them. Though she is separated from them now, she hopes to meet them someday and tell them words she couldn’t manage to say before. Yuki rushes back home and opens the drawer to find Hiyori’s chocolates and a note saying goodbye. Then she takes her gachapon ring and rushes out.

A short flashback reveals how Hiyori came to Kenji’s place in hopes of giving her chocolate to him. But he saw him eating Yuki’s and decided not to and lied she messed up baking it. Back at the park, it is confirmed that Hiyori in a way is a ghost because the other people can’t see her and they think Kenji is a dangerous person for talking to himself! By the time Yuki reaches the amusement park, Kenji and Hiyori are riding the Ferris wheel. After reaching the ground, Hiyori thanks him and says it is her time to go. She asks him if he’d prefer good or bad chocolates. Hiyori doesn’t give Kenji any space to say what he wants and is about to leave when Yuki appears and calls her a liar. She knows Hiyori loved Kenji a lot and wonders would it be okay to leave without saying anything. She shows her the chocolates she made and the one they once made together and then shows Kenji the goodbye note. Yuki reveals that though she managed to exchange the ring with Kenji for the yo-yo, it was Hiyori who actually got the yo-yo and not her. She felt guilty that she should have returned it to her but never did. Yuki passes the ring to Hiyori (now she can hold it). Hiyori begins to float away into the sky. Kenji gives his answer on the chocolate: It may not be the correct answer, but he’ll be happy with either one (is that another on-the-fence answer?). Hiyori smiles and vanishes in a happy mood.

The next scene shows Kenji and Yuki visiting Hiyori at the hospital and the airhead girl seems to be very much healthier. Hiyori’s mom reveals that before her operation, she started talking about the past events and having dreams about it. She thinks she must have met them in her dreams and thus gave her the courage to face the operation. Yuki asks Hiyori if she stills Kenji and she too throws the same question back at her. No prizes to guess what their answer is. Hiyori wishes for her to wait till she is discharged as they both renew their promise.

Fuutsuiro (Normal colour)
Even if the ending is nothing much, but in a way it is heart-warming. The whole series was something about Kenji made to remember his feelings with Hiyori when she suddenly vanished and then reappearing again. As for Yuki, it was the part of fulfilling her promise. It was just a simple task of exchanging the toys, I guess. Hiyori was absolutely cute as an airhead ghost (and even more so by the fact that she is aptly voiced no other than Yuko Goto) though certain things still bug me like why she cannot pass through several objects and why she appears in night time and particularly in Kenji’s closet. They may have said something about their past childhood that they often did but I guess I shouldn’t be too worried about the details. For a short series, the pacing and the drama are rather okay.

I know this OVA as said has been tailored to fit all the other girls but I find even so they don’t really make an impact even with their short appearances. Shindou and Kiyoka are probably for comic relief while Asami was well, I thought she had a potential to confess her feelings to Kenji and make it a little more complicated but you know, how much can you achieve with just a couple of episodes? So much so I thought that the OVA could be done without them since the big focus is still between Kenji, Yuki and Hiyori.

The drawing and art seems light and somehow lives up to its name. Yeah, at points they seem like water colour. Surprisingly there are no fanservice elements. Nothing close. I suppose after having the previous OVA filled with hentai, I’m sure the producers would like to do something different. Just your ordinary love and romance genre that’s all. So while this kind of genre never seems to bore me and I keep coming back to watch them from time to time, but I guess that is where the magic is even though they have slightly different plots, predicaments and character designs. If I was visited by a ghost of a childhood friend, I’d probably run to the nearest exorcist first. Definitely don’t want to undergo an afterlife marriage.

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