Customary Disclaimer: As can be expected, this OVA is a follow-up to the actual series and spoils much. In context of proper discussion, this review will do so as well - read at your own discretion.
That said and done, Kimi ga Nozomu Eien ~Next Season~ is a rather "interesting" take on the main series, as it touts itself as an alternative ending without actually portraying a different set of events. The opening sequence, at the very least, makes little to no initial sense, as it starts with Mitsuki bidding farewell to a happily-paired Haruka/Takayuki couple - a certain non-sequitur to the main series if I've ever seen one. Much of the first episode is thus devoted to spelling out a happily-ever-after romantic world between the two, fronted by a hyper-gallant Takayuki swooning over Haruka's every whim scene after scene after scene. Come its close, the blatantly sappy atmosphere made me painfully aware that the OVA was, in fact, a spinoff, and I prepped myself for an over-zealous bombardment of typicality and clichés.
Unfortunately, in the midst of dodging to the left, Next Season caught me squarely in the jaw with a right hook. Not any ordinary right hook, mind you, but one full of pseudo-melodrama and - God help me - flashbacks. And not just one or two flashbacks, but somewhere about fifty-percent of the OVA's airtime. While not all trivial, most (such as the entire second episode) never managed to be more than recapped fluff, and bogged down what should have been an hour of OVA into two. Instead of being entertained I found myself rather bored, as most of the revisited content focused on painfully memorable events; eleven episodes of Takayuki sulking in endless depression is rather hard to forget, after all.
And, as if the flashbacks weren't bad enough, the aforementioned take on melodrama puts a stake in the OVA's grave. Next Season attempts to front its events with a dramatic twist much along the lines of Haruka's accident, but ends up providing no substantive backing to make any of the excessive angst believable. By the time the terribly predictable and lame ending slaked around I was impatiently tapping my fingers on my desk, as the OVA seems annoyingly forced and contrived. Simply put, the drama is artificiality at its finest, and exudes an air of uninspired and droll levity.
Alas, I can recall a time when stellar aesthetics made OVA's worthwhile of their own merit, but such days are long gone. While Next Season looks superficially appealing, it holds little sway against its non-OVA peers, as crisp coloration and fluid animation are now industry standards. All in all, it meets a satisfactory quota in quality, but does little more than attempt to dress up mediocrity with a pretty face.
Again, Next Season fronts completely standard audible fare. Decent voice acting and a sufficient soundtrack round out the score, but none of its qualities merit attention aside from a couple catchy title tracks. Such blandness has been done before, will be done again, and that's that.
While Haruka and Mitsuki change little from the main series, Takayuki is reduced to a mindless Haruka-bot. In addition, his emotional instability all but disappears, and he flaunts a blank, empty smile all the way through. Were he simply bland I would not really have cared, but his dialogue ends up trite and trivial, as he repeats the same lines incessantly through all four episodes and shows no stimuli to occurrences around him. In spite of his utter alienation with reality, all the drama around him works itself out without his involvement, which results in him having little purpose other than to be the swooned-over male; had he been replaced by a brick I don't think much would have changed.
Ultimately, Next Season amounts to little more than a poor rehashing of old faces with a new look. The rendition teems with mediocrity and, while fit for dedicated fans of the series, speaks poorly to those who enjoyed Kimi ga Nozomu Eien at face value. While never truly steeping into the realm of bad, were it not branded on an already well-established title it would have no redeeming value of its own, and thus should be approached with careful consideration.
Three years ago, a terrible tragedy occurred which caused old relationships to end, new ones to begin, and the lives of four friends to be torn apart. Takayuki was forced to make a choice between the two women he loved – the one who was taken from him, and the one who helped him live again; but what would have happened if he had chosen the other? Mitsuki and Haruka's stories are revisited once more, while Takayuki does everything in his power to keep the woman he loves happy.
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Though I'm a big fan of slice of life and romance, I'll watch just about anything that catches my interest. My opinions tend to be pretty level-headed, but I have been known to be controversial from time to time! Feel free to lay into me if you so desire, as I always appreciate feedback - positive or negative. I hope you enjoy reading!
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