Kuttsukiboshi (Stars That Stick Together)
Number of Episodes: 2
Production Company: Primastea
Brief Overview: Kiiko is an average girl, besides having the ability to move things with her mind. When a transfer student named Aaya arrives in her class, Kiiko begins to develop feelings towards her.
Episode Summary: Since getting into an accident a year ago, Kiiko has had the odd ability to transport objects with her mind. Once her friend Aaya discovers this skill, she turns Kiiko into her own personal experimental guinea pig, and the two of them meet every day at their school over the Summer to run tests. One day, Kiiko leans in to kiss her friend Aaya, whom she loves as more than a friend, and, unexpectedly, Aaya reciprocates.
The two spend their Summer indulging in each-others' love, until Kiiko returns to Aaya's apartment one day to find her sleeping with her own brother.
Thoughts: I went into this viewing expecting nothing much more than a near-pornographic yuri OVA with little plot to speak of. What I ended up with was a bit more chaste than that; sure, the characters spend their vacation having sex with each-other, but, other than a particularly erotic saliva strand and a bit of saucy banter between the two, a surprisingly high amount of their activity is left to the imagination of the viewer. Even so, the episode is still mostly plotless and the characters, aside from their obvious lust for each-other, don't receive a whole lot of development.
What's frustrating is that this is the type of production that can really only survive if its characters are interesting, vibrant, lifelike people. Without anything else beyond a very flimsy sci-fi subplot to carry the OVA, the responsibility falls to Kiiko and Aaya to drive the action. Unfortunately, the only bits of information that distinguish the two characters are some basic facts, including the very melodramatic revelation that Aaya is carrying on a secret sexual relationship with her own brother. There's not much attention paid to why we as the viewers should care about these characters' particular situation, and the big reveal at the end lands with a resounding "meh".
Perhaps the most notable thing about this OVA is that it was written and animated by one man, freelance animator Naoya Ishikawa. This is no small feat by any means, and for one person's personal creation to be produced alongside all the other mass-market consumable entertainment being churned out is certainly encouraging. Disappointing, however, is the fact that Ishikawa seems to lack the storytelling chops and grasp of emotion that Makoto Shinkai demonstrated in Voices of a Distant Star, as well as the boundless visual creativity found in Atsuya Uki's Cencoroll. Ishikawa, rather than exploring universal themes of love and distance or finding new ways to attack the old idea of kids controlling pet monsters, seems content to wallow in the well-worn tropes of forbidden teenage love and allow the telekinesis sub-plot languish on the sidelines as a cheap-and-easy symbolism delivery platform.
As mentioned, the animation for this 20 minute OVA was produced singlehandedly by Ishikawa himself. While a certain charming lack of refinement is to be expected from the visuals, especially since there was no animation checker present to smooth things over and correct for visual consistency, there are often some very basic problems with the characters' anatomy that become increasingly distracting as the episode progresses. There are multiple times where the characters' eyes are noticeably and dramatically asymmetrical and some of the linework appears to exhibit a lack of confidence that's amateurish. Unfortunately for him, Ishikawa doesn't have the chops to distract from his unappealing- looking characters with gorgeous background art a la Makoto Shinkai; most of the background scenes are serviceable but drab. They get the job done, but without any stylistic flourishes that might make the episode more exciting to watch.
While I'm certainly happy to see an independent animator get an opportunity to bring an original story to life, especially in the current anime industry climate which seems more focused on safety and profitability, I can't say that I'm very impressed with this venture. While it's nice that this yuri story isn't set in a girls school and doesn't bow to a lot of the common tropes of the kind of series that do, there's really nothing of substance to distinguish it otherwise. It's purely forgettable.
- It's encouraging to see independent animators get some work.
- There's nothing that really distinguishes this OVA from anything else. Distinct lack of creativity.
- The artistry is lacking.
Recommended? No, the episode just isn't compelling.