The final burial of this show is done expertly, and hilariously, by the makers of the anime themselves. Having once suggested in a very serious audio column that the best way to treat this show is unseriously, there’s no better way to take that advice than to watch and enjoy this fine bit of deconstruction.
For that is what it is: a takedown of the motifs, premises, and especially the ending of the TV show. Context is king here: this OVA is best appreciated in full light of Incident Nice Boat. The outrageous slapstick is amusing actually even to those who aren’t familiar with the show and its infamy–as my copilot Ray said to me–but it’s even more amusing to those who went through the Twenty Minutes’ Hate with the blogosphere last summer. Like me.
Take Kotonoha. She is nothing less than a witch conjuring up horrible spells. Her “chocolate” is full of tentacles. The humor of the situation is at least in part because we know about Kotonoha’s total psychosis and murderous ways by the end of the series, and so it seems terribly fitting. When the knives come out literally from various female characters, we think of another set of knives that were used by the end. When a humorous “Taps” plays over a fallen Makoto, we get the additional level, and realize that the gruesomeness really just needed a change of context to be funny. Most of all, the ending…it just takes the premise of the show (Makoto as near-unstoppable love machine) to its logical conclusion. Why do only girls have to be in his harem?
If there is any criticism of this OVA, it’s precisely that it doesn’t stand all that well on its own, because much of its comedic force depends on prior knowledge. Sure, nearly everyone is out-of-character to a degree in this: Makoto doesn’t seem like a huge jerk, for instance, though his people-pleasing, indecisive ways are in full force. You could almost give everyone different names and it would be a fine, if run-of-the-mill, one shot slapstick short. But this is Kotonoha, Sekai, Makoto, Setsuna, we’re talking about. They have baggage. They have history. And that history is sent up by revealing the nature of the grim melodrama the TV show was: utter ridiculousness. The bases, after all, are similar: Makoto has a harem. He is threatened and “dies.” Kotonoha is not normal. The most surprising thing that is discovered is that Sekai even has a mother, and a Mrs. Robinson type to boot. It may even be an acknowledgement of the oddly parentless world of the original show. It shows how thin the line can be between real, moving drama and unintentionally funny melodrama.
I’d like to propose a bold experiment/suggestion: try watching this episode first before watching episode 12. Especially for a newbie to the show, I’d love to see what the reaction will be, much like if one watches End of Evangelion prior to watching the original TV ending. Actually, the way this episode was handled was in many ways similar to the Anno-penned original Evangelion Radio Drama, which mocked the low budget, angst, and character conflicts of Evangelion. It was more hit or miss than this OVA, actually, but it got its point across: “don’t take this THAT seriously!”
It’s always a good sign, in my opinion, when creators are able to do that with their own work. And honestly, it’s the best way to close this franchise once and for all.