Surprise! Even though Ao is currently on hiatus, Zigg loves flagellating himself so much that he’s bringing you coverage of the exclusive bonus OVA episode that was bundled with the PlayStation 3 game! You poor, poor bastards.
Recap: Team Pied Piper head off on a roadtrip through Switzerland to attend a cosplay festival, but Ao needs to go in disguise, and they’re being pursued by a dogged journalist.
Dragonzigg’s Thoughts: I don’t make anime, but look, it can’t be hard to produce a bonus OVA episode right? It can’t be plot relevant, so rustle up a pointless little storyline, throw in a bunch of goofy jokes and maybe top it off with a little fanservice. Since it’s non- canon maybe there can be a few nods and winks or sly fourth-wall breaking jokes, and if your show doesn’t already have a beach/hot springs/whatever episode then hey, here’s your chance to put your cast in swimsuits. Like I said, easy!
It’s a testament to Ao’s sheer incompetence then that it somehow manage to screw even this up. Oh yes, even though this is an OVA, we’re not getting a break from the bitterness parade here. The major problem is that this episode basically has only one joke – Ao crossdresses. Now granted, this is actually a pretty amusing joke, and one that we get a fair amount of mileage out of. Dressing Ao as his mother for a good half of this episode is exactly the kind of cheeky nod and wink that these kind of episodes need, and the fact that he so readily looks the part only makes it funnier.
The problem is…well, everything else really. For a start, why does such a simple plotline have to be so confusingly presented? Instead of just saying ‘Let’s go on a roadtrip!’ we get some bizarre backstory for the festival they’re going to, a somewhat unclear situation with the journalist and a borderline trippy montage of Ao playing dressup which is presumably meant as fangirl fodder but which just comes off as utterly daft. The sudden IFO battle at the end is shoehorned in and serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever and the collapse of the Scub Coral is blatantly engineered for some pretty lighting effects. Oh, and the show indulges in my least favourite habit of trying to pretend Team Gazelle are important, this time by engaging in a weird spying-on-spies scheme and by acting as taxi drivers for Ao and company.
But all of these nitpicks pale besides the really, REALLY big issue with this episode – the way it looks. Dear god, the way it looks. Words can’t communicate incompetence on this scale, so let’s do it visually shall we?
Look, I get as a bonus episode this might not have been the biggest budget priority, but dear god, it couldn’t be more obvious they phoned this one in if you could hear the ringing. It’s kinda insulting for the people who paid all that money for a bluray disc.
Nevertheless, this was still kind of enjoyable, just for the chance to see the characters in a situation free from the overwhelming bullshit which has choked the main show (almost: Christophe still manages to get in a few vitally important words on international territorial disputes). Don’t get me wrong though, it is NOT good. I mostly liked it for the Ao-dressed-as-Eureka gag, but it’s pretty telling that that’s one of the few fun moments in half an hour of TV. In other words, Ao is the same as it ever was.
– Ao looks pretty good in a dress.
– What’s so baffling about the animation quality is that it’s occasionally great. I have to wonder if this was assembled by different teams at different times.
– Also not bad, if a bit contrived – Elena’s extended Ranma 1/2 reference.
– Really, the best bit of this was getting to see the awesome original OP again.