This 20 minute OVA is an introduction to the television series, and presents a brief story to laugh over. Aya, a popular girl at school, meets Nina, a bumbling witch apprentice. Of course, Aya doesn't believe any of this at first, until the girl's tennis team has to have a match with the boy's team over ownership of the courts. The girls are clearly outmatched, and thus, Nina does something about it: she turns Aya into a boy! Wacky hijinks ensue, but not very many, considering the 20 minute length and all.
I admire short OVAs like this that can have a relatively interesting story and still retain some comedy, and have an ending that leads into another series well. Ultra Maniac defiintely isn't a rich storyline that will keep you engaged, waiting for more, but it is a lighthearted comedy with a very comedic situation (gender bending!). Overall, a decent story, and a great intro to the TV series.
The animation ranges from pretty and interesting to chibified and comedic, and all of it seems to work well. Granted, I could have done without a little bit of the chibi moments, but the comedic element of the animation really did help with the story as well. Exaggerated artwork behind the characters reminded me a great deal of Fruits Basket, and occasional fuzzing of the imagery was a nice touch (for cheesy scenes with Kaji, for example). Overall, nothing mind blowing but still decent animation.
The audio consisted of mostly orchestral light tracks (including piano pieces), light synthy songs, or nothing at all. Of particular interest to me was a tune that sounded like it came straight from an RPG (or Princess Tutu). The music definitely was pleasant and fit the tone of the short OVA. The intro was also incredibly catchy, but also only lasted a few seconds.
The voice acting was fine for everyone EXCEPT Nina, who easily had one of the most annoying voices of all time. Her voice was childlike and had a certain whine to it that I can't explain well. It's like every sound out of her mouth had two syllables, if that makes sense. The tone would go up and immediately down with every syllable. Just trust me, it's annoying.
We are introduced to two main characters: Aya and Nina. Aya is popular, pretty and athletic, but she secretly just wants to win the heart of Kaji. Nina is bumbling and has one of the most annoying voice actors ever, cries a lot, and is generally fairly irritating. I could have done without her excessiveness, to be honest. Regardless, the girls make an interesting pair and it will be interesting to watch the TV series fully to see how their relationship develops.
We are introduced to a few other characters including Kaji (who isn't developed at all) and some generic classmates. Aya and Nina were definitely the focus, and for a 20 minute OVA, could you expect anything more?
Overall, Ultra Maniac OVA was a nice 20 minute watch. However, it was nice because it was a definite intro to something larger -- had I watched it by itself not planning on watching the TV series (I haven't seen it yet), I might have been disappointed and wondered what the point was. Was it humorous and interesting? Yeah... but probably not worth my time if I knew it was the only Ultra Maniac thing out there. If you are bored and like pseudo magical girl type stories with a touch of comedy, check this one out. Just don't expect anything fantastic, and you'll come away feeling satisfied.