I must be honest: reviewing an anime that is a mere thirty minutes in length is a chore. Not only is there rarely enough time to develop strong characters (or any sort of emotional bond with them), but there generally isn't time to develop a complex or compelling story, as well. Now imagine what's it's like to try to review a thirty-minute OVA which has no dialogue and almost no animation! Needless to say, I apologize in advance for the length of this review.
Studio Ghibli's Iblard Jikan is comprised of nothing more than a minimally-animated set of paintings by the famous Japanese artist Inoue Naohisa (most commonly known for being the inspiration behind scenes in Ghibli's Whisper of the Heart). There is no dialogue and little animation, save for various water-animating techniques. No story can be found, but the order in which the paintings are displayed - for the lack of a better word - paints a gorgeous picture of individual parts of the fantasy world. Floating islands abound in one "set", while city shots make up another. Thus, we can partially experience Iblard Jikan's world through the imagery alone.
Even with the eye candy as a distraction, any semblance of a story is a moot point. You wouldn't watch this for the story, you'd watch it for the paintings; and thus, in the story arena, Iblard Jikan doesn't earn many points.
So Iblard Jikan is all about the animation; does it live up to its goal? In my opinion, no. While Naohisa's paintings are admittedly gorgeous in every way, they also look almost identical to each other. Thousands of tiny flowers dotting the hillsides are stunning and all, but after 15 minutes of seeing the same said multi-colored flowers, one can't help but wish for something a little different.
In addition, the minimal animation is so crude and abrasively different than the backdrops that it would have been far more effective to leave the paintings as stills. Each scene has some sort of moving part, whether it's ripples in a pond or rain falling softly. These water effects are, for the most part, the caliber of old flash animations; would you want to see flash animations over the top of vibrant oil paintings? I think not.
Character-wise, there's the occasional girl or woman who flies or walks into view, but their jerky style of movement and general flat appearances make them seem fake and forced. At times, I was reminded of classic Broderbund game called Spelunx that I played as a wee child; specifically, this came to mind in a scene where a door swings open to reveal blooming flowers within.
Throughout the entirety of the OVA, a mild-tempered soundtrack sets the stage for the visuals to come. Being comprised mostly of acoustic guitar-driven numbers, the audio is decent, but is not a good match for the imagery. Rather than Ghibli's typical sweeping orchestral melodies, Iblard Jikan's more rustic soundtrack makes me feel like I'm watching an in-store computer demo from the 90s. Sound effects are well-constructed, though sometimes come across as a little loud compared to the music.
Another hard category to rate, as there are no central characters to speak of. Literally the only "characters" worth calling out are from a scene where two girls who are tinkering around with some sort of carnival game. The girl on the left passively watches while the girl on the right does various things, and suddenly turns into a creature of light and speeds off into the building. Besides these two, most of the very simplistically-animated characters are on-screen only for a quick cameo.
I suppose the scenery itself could be considered a character of the anime, as it's the focus and, in a weird sort of way, has a personality of its own. That being said, there wasn't enough life or motion to make much of an impression upon me.
Iblard Jikan is wondrous in its own way (at least visually), but will probably not be enjoyed by most people out there. Though I generally enjoy slower-paced anime and spectacular eye candy, Iblard Jikan just didn't cut if. Fans of Studio Ghibli will surely give it a chance based on its origins alone, but will most likely end up disappointed.
I recommend Iblard Jikan as a substitution for those "sounds of the ocean" type mood tapes, or to electronic store owners who are looking for something to show off how impressive their HD TVs look. For anyone else out there, I'd suggest giving this one a pass.