Manabi Straight! Special

Alt title: Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight! Special

DVD Special (1 ep x 24 min)
3.498 out of 5 from 369 votes
Rank #6,290

It’s summer, and while most teenagers are off enjoying the holiday, the Seioh Student Council has decided to take a special camping trip – but first they need the money for it. Though the group starts working at cleaning a swimming pool to fund their excursion, it doesn’t take long for them to be distracted by drinks, talk of why summer is special and, of course, water pistol fights! Despite their antics, they manage to get together the dough and embark on their great outdoors adventure – that is, if they don’t melt in the heat or get blown away by a typhoon...

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The Manabi Straight Special (ufotable, 2007) is possibly the best Original Video Animation in the category of 'fit' when it is compared to the whole twelve episode project.  Many OVAs experiment with some facet of the series, as character study, dabble in some fun adventure, or offer a new approach to the storyline as presented.  But Manabi Straight Special was offered as episode 6.5, which was sensible.  The OVA was an adventure during summer break, just before the Saioh Girls' Academy Student Council set its plans for creating a memorable student festival. In short, this set of twenty-four minutes covered two ideas.  First, the girls are cleaning the Odori family pool (and all the fun this entails) for the funds needed for a special two-day, one-night trip to 'a splendid white inn along the coast.'  However, a typhoon forces the girls to compromise with a rural inn in the middle of nowhere.  While the girls adjust their fun-plans, three important themes were developing in this OVA. First, we expand on the hopeless situation of Mika Inamori whose future is not as set as her four other friends whose plans post high school are figured out.  This girl who needs that ‘Forward GO!’ push in her life. Then, the notion of the division of those who attend high school versus those who enter the work force without the high school diploma.  Mika meets the inn-keeper's daughter who wanted to help her mother run the inn, even though mom's wishes was to have her daughter attend school. Finally, the principal of Saioh High ends the OVA with a mysterious phone call which she has made to save Saioh.  As this OVA worked in between episodes 6 and 7, we know this to be the proposed merger of two girls' academies which would hazard the plans for Saioh's Student Festival. Such a hand-glove fit to the total storyline ... aren't we all that sure that GUMS wasn't a 13-episode series? But the animation used the flat animation with pseudo-Claymation closer as the series, as well as the music, so these weak points to Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight still keep this series from being a superior series ... just a powerful story which just wants to pull at the heart strings.

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