In Japan, there is a disturbing rumor being spread that people's shadows are ripping from their bodies, never to be seen again. For one young man, the frightening nature of this rumor is just beginning to manifest in the form of a nightmarish world that he can't seem to escape from. In this place full of dark minions and demons, he and his friends fight futilely against unknown enemies, only to be brought back to the "real world" as quickly as they left it. Is this real, or a dream? Only one person holds the key to destroying and saving the world as he knows it...
StoryAn unnamed young man lives his life normally with his friends, his childhood sweetheart Tama, and the usual daily activities. He goes to school, does his homework, hangs out with his friends, and is by all means a normal teenager. But recently, he has been having terrible nightmares of an existence that seems unreal, and it all goes down hill from there... Truly, there is not much else that can be said about the plot in detail without spoiling, and since the entire basis of Interlude is that it’s secretive, mysterious, and is designed to make you think and discuss, spoiling it would be a travesty to your viewing experience. There are many anime series out there that are predictable. Granted, they might be entertaining, but predictable nonetheless. Then there are series that don’t make a lot of sense. Sometimes, you don’t really care because you didn’t like it much to begin with; but other times, you enjoyed it so much that you feel the need to go discuss ideas about what happened immediately. The latter is the category that Interlude fell into, as well as others such as Paranoia Agent. Besides Paranoia Agent, it has been a long time since I’ve seen something this intelligent and this deep as far as the storyline, and that gets very high marks from me. The story is told in pieces that are scattered throughout the episodes, and finally are drawn together in the final act. Even once the credits roll you will have quite a few unanswered questions, but people have been discussing the details in forums and have come to some interesting conclusions. In general, the overall story, once it’s revealed, is incredibly interesting and in depth, tragic, moving, and full of hope at the same time. I strongly suggest watching the entire three episodes because any less will not give you a good idea of how encompassing the plot ends up being. The first episode is somewhat of a horrorish viewing, the second fairly tame, but the third is the one that wraps up all the loose ends and makes you think "wow." In addition to the normal storytelling, there are brief comments made by three of the main characters, one at the beginning of each 45 minute episode. Each one comments about how this is their "interlude", hence the name of the OVA. Each character talks on a stage, like you are watching a monologue at a local theater, lending itself even stronger to the chosen name. The first time around, these comments really won’t make any sense. If you’ve just finished the OVA, however, after checking out various forum threads for ideas as to what the plot was about, I strongly suggest watching those monologues a second time for a great deal of clarity. My only complaint is that there was very unnecessary fan service/ecchi thrown in, on a somewhat regular basis (especially in episode one). This wasn’t just fan service, this was ridiculous fan service that went way over the top, and really doesn’t help with the serious and intelligent mood the OVA is supposed to be portraying. First time viewers might see it over and over in episode one, and think the OVA is not worth seeing, but trust me, it is. Stick with it, and you’ll be rewarded with a very engaging plot that will surprise you. AnimationAnyone who watches Interlude has to agree that the animation is stunning to say the least. There was something about it that seemed odd, but it’s hard to put a finger on. I think it was the occasional weird layering effect that came from having thickly outlined characters, on top of sometimes sparse backgrounds (or backgrounds that weren’t as strongly outlined). Besides that, everything about the visuals were amazing. Backgrounds were absolutely beautiful, especially the recurring scene of a dark blue field with bluish-white flowers. The amusement park, the sunsets, every background was detailed and rich with color. Some backgrounds looked almost like water colors had been used to construct them, while others were almost so realistic they looked close to CG. Character designs were equally as impressive, with thick outlines and vibrant colors. Aya reminded me a great deal of the main female character in Hitsuji no Uta as far as the design. Colors used were neutral (no bright pinks or yellows, or anything offensive to the eyes) but still were very rich and full. The blue background scene comes to mind again, because it was so breathtaking. Check out the screenshots for that one. CG was also used at times, and the camera angles and panning made it seem almost like you were watching a real movie. The camera would seem to fly into the scene, instead of starting as a part of it. Odd angles were used to give you new perspectives, especially in the city of the moon, where the shots always seemed to be from around the feet level. Sound Although different in some ways, the music reminded me quite a bit of watching the Resident Evil movie. It had the same sort of techy feel, but in general, just fit really well in a cool and slick way. The music itself was synthy and pseudo industrial-like most of the time, but had a very eerie feel to it when appropriate and applicable to the scene. Sound effects were creepy and effective, and in general, the music fit the tone of the series perfectly. Voice acting worked all the way around. CharactersAlthough the characters didn’t have a great deal of history or background to them (the main character was nameless, for god’s sake!) they still managed to flesh out nicely and become 3-dimensional. Quite a bit of this was because of the in depth plot, so it’s difficult to explain without spoiling. The interactions were always layered and complicated at times, but always seemed to be applicable to the final storyline. Relationships between several of the main characters ended up being a focal point, and ended up being compelling and moving. Though you don’t know a great deal about them, you still end up feeling empathetic towards them and their ... let’s just say less than ideal situations they become involved in. I take it back that there wasn’t a lot of character development, because there was with at least one main character. This person has lived their life in a static manner, only to find it turned upside down, and grows painfully to realize the position they are in now. Again, cryptic because I don’t want to ruin the story. OverallInterlude definitely managed to place itself high up in the ranks of my favorites as far as plots go. I rarely see things that are so intelligent and provoke so much discussion afterwards, and this definitely was one of them. The beautiful animation, coupled with the fitting and edgy music made this an entertaining watch, even without the plot... but the plot was what drove the nail in the coffin as far as I’m concerned. You’ll have your own theories about what happened, but it won’t necessarily be an End of Eva type irritating confusion. More like, a very curious excited confusion... or at least it was for me. Just remember to rewatch the monologues once you finish, read some forum threads about what it meant, and you’ll do just fine. Get past the ecchi and this was an incredibly good OVA, and I think you’ll feel the same.
Introduction People seem to be having trouble differentiating anime that’s actually intelligent from anime that merely pretends to be, and Interlude is a fine example of this phenomenon. The show is a rather sorry piece of work that attempts to be “deep” merely by being confusing, and yet many seem to believe that there is merit here. Trust me: there isn't. Animation Overall, I was disappointed by the animation. Character designs are decidedly unoriginal and unappealing, and the show uses a lot of repeated footage (there are several recap segments that actually recap what has happened in THAT VERY EPISODE, something I can’t stand at all). Action scenes are somewhat tepid; most of them consist of either awkward motion or no motion at all. Props should be given for some excellent imagery in the alternate worlds (in particular there is an outstanding cherry blossom cgi effect that is used twice), but for an O.V.A the animation is definitely underwhelming. Sound Music is passable and works decently with the show, but the voice acting is definitely weak. Of particular note is the ear-piercing abomination of sound that is Tama’s seiyuu. Story The show has many flaws, but probably the most damaging ones lie within its storyline. For one, the plot is horribly hackneyed; every idea that this anime manages to regurgitate has already been done better somewhere else. The whole “subjective reality” theme that this anime belatedly tries to embellish on feels rather half-witted in comparison to what was done with the concept in animes like Serial Experiments Lain or Perfect Blue, and traveling from a normal, school kids world to a fantastic one has been done in so many different animes that it would be a chore to list them all. As if the creators knew ahead of time that their high-fallutin’ plot concepts were too dumbed down to be intellectually stimulating, an annoyingly large amount of lame fanservice (“It’s not my fault I have big breasts!”) and trite schoolkids humor is unnecessarily injected into the series to make the show even stupider. In the end, these elements absolutely ruin the dark surrealistic mood that the show is shooting for. Character Characters are woefully underdeveloped with no exceptions. The main character in particular is so tiresomely generic that he seems perfectly suited to act as the protagonist to a hentai. Also of note are the three government worker girls who appear midway through the show. These individuals have absolutely NO purpose other than to provide a portion of the aforementioned fanservice. Conclusion To sum things up, this three episode O.V.A carries the dubious honor of being the dumbest “intellectual” anime that I’ve ever seen. Interlude is boring, cheesy, unnecessarily fanserviced and clichéd. I came in with relatively high expectations, but in the end I was disappointed in just about every respect.
StoryWhenever I dip my hand into my archive of older anime, it is always with a fair bit of reluctance - especially when dredging out that which I once thought good. Past experience has, more often than not, reminded me of my formerly questionable tastes, as mediocrity and greatness too often seemed intertwined. Still, ever the optimist, I make a point to try to find the diamonds in the rough, as discovering that classic "oldie but goodie" makes all my rummaging worthwhile. Much to my dismay, though, Interlude happened to be another testament to this former trend of poor judgment. What I once remembered as a gripping, top-notch OVA turned out to be a conglomerate of poorly contrived sci-fi, obnoxious fanservice, and haphazard storytelling. Even so, it's not entirely bad, as it manages to be superficially enjoyable most of the way through, and carries enough mystique to warrant extended interest. It begins with a fairly typical premise: a high school boy is living out an ordinary life when a sudden array of strange events befall him. These, of course, include the appearance of parasitic monsters, warped memories, and troupes of women with breasts and outfits that could rival the best of the Victoria's Secret models. Indeed, virtually every important plot twist is accompanied by some form of fanservice shot and/or groping, which ends up watering down all the OVA's attempts at seriousness. As such, Interlude ends up being largely comical without much in the way of actual humor. In addition, its climax is befuddled to no end, and somehow manages to throw in notions of "unyielding love" in its equation despite there being no real romantic focus throughout. Even so, despite how many times the OVA shoots itself in the foot, it keeps on walking at a steady pace, and concludes just before it spills over into tedium. The fact that it turns out being a grab-bag of a good five to ten genres does not really speak well of its quality, especially given its OVA length, but its many different elements somehow come together to bestow it with some semblance of entertainment value; definitely shoddy, but not without some merit.AnimationSurprisingly, despite Toei being behind Interlude's visual score, the OVA looks quite good. Though a fair number of scenes hint at its age, the quality of animation is, by-in-large, high in standard. All of its scattered action sequences are vibrant and fluid, and most certainly add to the overall appeal. This also holds true for the CGI effects, which fit in nicely both thematically and aesthetically, and bring alive characters like Hedgehog whose natural appearance is supposed to be "digital." That said, there are still a number of flaws, with one being the abundance of stills used toward the end. The other, though, is an inappropriate placement of scenes; the rose-petal backdrop of Aya's archery sequences, for instance, looks great but is utterly tacky given its story placement. Certainly not a deal-breaker, but an annoying quip nonetheless.SoundFor much of the OVA, the music just drifted around idly in the background, and seemed more an abstraction than anything else. It did little to add or detract from the mood at any given time, save for the horror bits at the beginning, and overall really isn't worth much mention. I suppose it aptly did its job, but it definitely could have been used to greater effect, especially in helping to smooth out the rough edges the excessive fanservice created. When matched with a relatively average set of voice actors, Interlude simply lacks much audible immersion, and left me rather unimpressed. CharactersWhile Interlude's story, despite its flaws, proves mildly entertaining, the cast of characters play little to this effect; the main guy, for crying out loud, is nameless. Many, like the G-cup/string trio, pop in and out with no real purpose to the story, only to vanish suddenly with the coming of the climax without any explicable reason. Others follow a "whatever is currently expedient to the story" trend, and haphazardly appear for the sole purpose of moving the plot to a different setting. This gives the cast a very whimsical feel, and as such it is terribly difficult to form any sort of attachment to either them or their plight. Come the ending events, none of them seem particularly necessary to any of the events, as they're lazily generic and uninspired. Fortunately, the plot doesn't really require them to be more than this, so they perform their jobs well enough to be passable. Still, they never get beyond generally mediocre, and do little more than keep the ship afloat; it works, it just isn't good.OverallDespite being littered with flaws left and right, Interlude is nevertheless decent - at least for an OVA. Though it could have used considerably more polish and tact, it managed to grab my attention for a couple hours, and for that I certainly cannot shoot it down outright. If you enjoy a bit of sci-fi or are a fanservice bot, Interlude is probably worth your time; if not, your time is probably better spent elsewhere.
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