I enjoyed the original Kanokon series. Coming to it right after Penguin Musume Heart and Sekirei, my reaction at the time was "Teehee! Ecchi is funny!" So, I figured that the 2009 OVA, Kanokon ~Manatsu no Daishanikusai~ would be another harmless and cheap source of perverted laughs. Not so. Short on quality fan-service and filled with dull slice-of-life moments, these two episodes bored me when Kouta wasn't on the screen and frustrated me when he was. Fail, Xebec. Fail.
In brief, Kanokon ~Manatsu no Daishanikusai~ examines the summer lives of its cast. Minus the usual beach scene, the OVA delivers a series of seasonal events typical to high school slice-of-life anime. While these relaxed activities work for some shows, the original's over-the-top energy is missing here and it drags the whole effort down. For one, Tayura's abortive attempts to invite Akane to a fireworks display receive too much air time. No one (NO ONE!) watches ecchi anime to see a fully-clothed guy work up the courage to ask a fully-clothed girl out--and that goes double if neither person ends up naked as a result. Their non-relationship makes for an enjoyable sidebar to the plot in Kanokon, but in these episodes it steals time that could have been spent on more interesting (and nude) characters.
However, viewer can find laughs here, but only by looking hard. The two bug-catching scenes should elicit a chuckle by resorting to tried-and-true slapstick humor. In addition, Yukihana's shaved ice maker makes for an amusing sight-gag (cute penguin!), but when the funniest thing in a scene full of characters is an inanimate object, the audience should start to wonder if his time would be better spent watching something else. For the most part, the OVA fails because it eschews ensemble scenes to focus more on the one-on-one interactions between cast members--unlike in Kanokon where the large group lends a manic energy to the proceedings. And even when the the whole lot gathers together in one place, the banter seems dialed back as if this show fears that applying gung-ho perversion of its previous incarnation might offend someone.
Normally, Xebec delivers stylish and above average animation. Here, they drop the ball. Somewhere in the translation from the original series, shading and proportion got lost, and this show suffers for it. Within first episode's opening moments, the animators manage to make the deliciously voluptuous Chizuru look awful by some strange trick that mashes her ample bosom and beautiful face into a jumble of strange angles. The initial, disappointing visuals serve as a harbinger for the mediocre segments that follow. In the OVA, the cute nose-less faces of the characters look flat and boring instead of adorable. For a show dependent on the attractiveness of its cast, this flaw torpedoes the effort from the get-go. True, when the studio pulls out the stops, the beautiful animation of the source material returns, but then storyboarding ruins the scene. Anyone can see that this installment has lost its way when the should be jaw-dropping, naked somen-noodle-eating scene in the first episode focuses more on the food than the luscious Chizuru.
Adequate saccharine pop graces both opening and ending themes, and the rest of the background music leaves little impression on the viewer. Similarly, a set of acceptable summer sounds rounds out the soundtrack, creating an undeniable seasonal mood, but little else. At least the voice acting passes muster. Ayako Kawasumi reprises her role as Chizuru to good effect, and Noto Mimako's whining, uncomfortable Kouta fits the tone of the script to a "T". The OVA's toned-down content gives the rest of the cast little opportunity to shine, but the performances feel neither phoned in or inspired.
As perverse and fun as Chizuru may be, she shares the screen with her wet-blanket of a paramour, Kouta. Toward the end of the main series, Kouta appears to accept his sexy lot in life and reaches an amusing detente with his morals. Sometime after the end of the school term however, these relations break down. Kouta's new and apparent revulsion when faced with naked bodies changes Chizuru's persistent harassment from adorable to unsettling. While her treatment of the boy doesn't seem any more aggressive and troubling than what occurred before, his reactions make every situation seem less like lewd fun and more like rape. On the extreme other side of the spectrum, Tayura and Akane's interactions put the viewer to sleep. Tayura's temerity toward his crush prevents the writers from wringing sufficient comedy from Akane's deadpan responses, and the resulting scenes contain far too much drama for what is supposed to be a side story to ecchi antics.
I've seen some bad anime, but this one made me want the forty minutes I spent watching it back. The substandard visuals and misdirected plot erased all of my fond memories of the original, and if I never saw Kouta again, it would be too soon. Since Kanokon ~Manatsu no Daishanikusai~ disappointed me more than inciting anger or offending my senses, I left the series unable to even recommend it as an awful but amusing watch. This OVA wasn't worth my time, and I doubt it will be worth yours.
Summer break has come for the prudish virgin Kouta Oyamada and his friends. For Akane Asahina this means trips to the library, while for wolf-spirit Nozomu this means sleeping naked in a hot apartment or bathing in front of Kouta's house. Unfortunately for Kouta, summer brings with it Chizuru's racy morning exercise regimen and noodle eating in the buff. How is he supposed to get any homework done in these conditions? Whether it be catching bugs for food, creepily shooting video documentaries on their classmates, dropping in from the mountains to visit family or just going to see fireworks, the gang’s summer will be far from relaxing - and in various states of undress.
These days I load up on comedy, slice-of-life, and horror shows, but I'll watch almost anything that sports a good voice cast, an interesting story, or looks particularly pretty. I tend to relate anime I review to other shows I've seen, because that's just how my mind works. Whether my warped view on a particular show totally misses the mark or you believe I've hit the nail on the head, I'd love to hear from you and welcome feedback and intelligent discussion of just how wrong I might be.