Sometimes, an anime doesn’t need anything except for pure style. Hellsing had its bloodshot skies, Noir had its pounding, pulsating soundtrack, Big O had the comic book world and SoulTaker had absolutely mindbending visuals. As well as the ones I’ve mentioned, countless other animes are entertaining not for a particularly coherent storyline or characters that we can actually empathize with, but for a distinct and very appealing “feel” to the show. In the same vein, Hitsuji no Uta is pretty much nothing but style… but what an amazing style it has.
Every single aspect of the anime seems engineered to create a specific mood. The animation remains at all times muted and dark, and there is very little color throughout the show (with the noticeable exception of red). The sound, with its alternation of frantic drumbeats and slow violin pieces, further complements this feeling. The story is thoroughly melodramatic and just about devoid of any hope whatsoever, and the characters move past dysfunctional to sheer insanity. As a result of these combined elements, Hitsuji no Uta’s morbid style is so distinct and memorable that this is really all it needs to be watchable.
Of course, style is really all this anime has. Technically, the anime is definitely lackluster. While initially impressive, both the animation and sound suffer from shameless repetition. Over the course of the series, only about 2 or 3 songs are played, and they are played almost constantly. Animation-wise, along with several recap scenes, various segments are just flat out reused as if they are new material. Considering the anime’s relatively short length, this is pretty much unacceptable.
Additionally, the characters and plot are definitely on the thin side. While not quite one-dimensional, the two protagonists definitely lack depth, and they certainly aren’t likeable. Rather than developing its characters, Hitsuji no Uta instead chooses to jerk them around in a storyline that is often illogical and rather contrived. With vampires, school romance, a sickly, beautiful women, and incest (which I seem to be immune to now that I’ve seen Koi Kaze), there are few plot clichés that the anime doesn’t use. I traditionally have no problem with tragic melodrama (check my positive opinions on Ima Sokoni Iru Boku, Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, or Hotaru no Haku), but even I felt the anime to be a little heavy-handed.
Still, despite all of the OVA’s weaknesses, I feel compelled to (lightly) recommend it anyway. Hitsuji no Uta is slick, daring and provocative, and the fact that there isn’t any substance underneath the whipped cream doesn’t seem to make the show any less tasty.