*Sniff* It’s so beautiful.
I’ve been on a bit of an OVA binge recently due to the fact that the influx of new anime coming this season means I don’t have too much time to try anything in my anime backlog that’s too long, but also because I want to restart my Ani-Elitist project and see how far I can take that. One of those OVAs was Here is Greenwood, an anime I’ve been meaning to watch for a while because it sounds like the kind of old-school romance I could dig. Originally, I was going to do an A-E review of the thing, but the problem is that the Ani-Elitist wouldn’t like the thing due to how it rushed through the entire manga series in only six episodes and I wouldn’t be able to cover what truly makes this thing stand out in that format. So it’s just going to be traditional post from me regarding this.
Bottom-line: I liked Here is Greenwood, even if it was mostly for the last two episodes. It’s the kind of shoujo stuff I really like and wished I had gotten from Kare Kano. None of those sparkly bishies or pointless meandering because we have to separate the couple (well okay there was that, but it only lasted one episode) or trying to make the characters too perfect or whatever. No constant “taking itself too seriously” crap that I can’t stand about some of the more popular love stories as of now. If anything, this is more in line with Ikkoku than Sakurasou when it comes to a male lead moving into a nutter house of crazy idiots, and considering how Ikkoku is my favorite romantic comedy of all-time, that’s saying a lot.
The story centers on some guy named Kazuya, who suffers from extremely bad luck and is moving to a dorm called Greenwood due to the fact that his brother married his first love and he can’t stand to be around them. It turns out that Greenwood is filled with a bunch of wacky tenants, including “trap roommate” Shun, “smart guy” Shinobu, and “dorm president” Mitsuru, and basically follows the four as they live their lives. The first episode is a little rushed in terms of pacing, as it blows through the introduction with the main characters and then time skips a bunch of times whilst leaving non-manga readers to fill in the gaps. However, the ending scene where Kazuya accepts his brother’s marriage is pretty damn heartwarming and as a fan of “lost love” when played well (I still cry at Madarame’s plight in Nidaime), I was really happy to see that.
Next three episodes adapt light-hearted random chapters from the manga, including a scheme involving Shinobu’s vengeful sister, Nagisa, an attempt to make a movie, and a ghost girl story. They’re decently funny and all with more of a natural feel to it than most current stuff due to the fact that they don’t feel exploitative, but I also realized just how dated Greenwood had become. Now I know there’s a live-action drama, but for the sake of argument, let’s just stick with the anime. Some of the yaoi jokes are just outdated as of now and I’m not sure why the anime felt the need to include them. Also, the non-existence of cell phones? Yeah that was weird. Also, I’m not sure if I liked Kazuya more for his personality or because he was being voiced by “Black Power Ranger” Johnny Young Bosch (btw, the rest of the voices are okay, although I might recommend the Japanese version over it). You don’t really see that loser character much anymore, do you? Instead, we get bland everybodies that don’t have an ounce of personality in them besides having a dick. Where did they go?
Oh yeah, and the animation isn’t really anything special. But let’s get back to the good stuff shall we?
Simply put, I loved the two-episode “Second Love” finale because of how hopefully romantic it was, as well as providing a fitting finale to the anime (okay there was no kiss involved, but there was hugging under an umbrella). If you didn’t guess from the title, it’s about how Kazuya moves on from his crush on his sister-in-law for a new girl. But it’s the way he moves on that makes it awesome. While there is a certain amount of contrivance and wish-fulfillment to the thing, because all fiction has that, Kazuya doesn’t fall in love with her because of childhood romance or by solving her problems that she couldn’t deal with herself or because she’s an empty husk. He does so because after interacting with her after a while, he just decides that he likes her, and she feels the same way. Yeah, I know that being bullied by a girl gang and having to hide out in his room whilst being sad that her family isn’t at home and the only companion she has is some clingy jackass childhood friend can be hard to swallow, but people like Beck, so shut up. First episode was basically setting up this heartfelt romance whilst still keeping its sense of humor (I had a laugh at the resolution to the gang fight) and giving us understandable reasons within the fictional realm for why the characters acted a certain way, and I really appreciated that.
Second episode is where things get a bit more contrived, although thankfully they tie in the coincidences to Kazuya’s previously established back luck and have a good sense of humor about it, only going dramatic when it’s appropriate. It’s basically Kazuya trying to meet his new love, but things keep preventing that from happening, mostly because Miki (the new girl) won’t grow up. And it’s only when she finally accepts that she wants to change that she finally meets with the dude and everyone at Greenwood cheers for the new couple with umbrellas. Yeah, she wrecks a bit of her life in the process, but seriously, that friend is an asshole.
Why is that I never see this kind of natural love story anymore anyways? Just hang out and suddenly the characters like each other? Or some actual give-and-take? Or something that’s actually funny? It’s always fucking otaku-bait, visual novel flag-raising, bullcrap that comes off as exploitative or stuff that takes itself way too seriously to the point that I barf at its ridiculous nature. Not that it’s totally gone, as Hyouka and Garden of Words (despite the latter’s problems) have shown; but nowadays I have to look towards stuff where romance isn’t the primary genre in order to get my fix, which is basically like having to go to a prostitute in order to find a new wife for your dad. And look how fucking well that turned out!