Friday, October 11, 2019

Kase-san and Morning Glories Blu-Ray suffers from its short run time (Anime Review)

Disc cover with two high school girls surrounded by plants at school
Kase-san and Morning Glories (Blu-ray) - 7/10

Oh how it pained me to type that rating above and not a higher one. I wanted to gush about Kase-san and Morning Glories (the OVA) because I love the manga series so much. But for all its wonderful qualities, there were some tough decisions that had to get made to bring this to light, and so it's an imperfect anime. But one that surely will appeal to existing fans, like me.

For those unaware, "Kase-san and..." is a manga series that had some publication trouble between the magazine it was published in getting stopped and moving to a web publisher, etc... and yet somehow managed to build an audience, keep going, and actually building up enough steam to go into a second, sequel, series. So the thought that it would ever get an anime was out of the question, and yet here we are reviewing it.

The series is about Yamada, the innocent head of the gardening club at school, and Kase, the tall, princely, star of the women's track team. The manga follows their meet cutes, their first kiss, and their dating, up through the end of high-school.

The question for the anime, is what would it cover out of the manga? The evolution of what would become an OVA started with a music video that more or less animated the first volume of the manga all in just a few minutes. Its outrageous popularity gave enough credence to the idea of producing the OVA. The fateful decision for the OVA then would be its decision to tell the rest of the manga in 45 minutes, meaning that the brisk pace of the music video would be replicated through the OVA.

There are pluses and minuses to this decision to cover so much in so little time. With the combination of the music video and the OVA, we get the entire first manga series completely animated. However, there is no way to do the series justice in such short time. Many many narrative short-cuts were taken which results in a fast paced, choppy, and unevenly paced OVA. It also results in an OVA that only fans will truly appreciate as so much was left out that when I watched it with a novice, they had little idea of what and why things were happening.

But perhaps the biggest weakness of condensing the entire series into 45 minutes is the way it distorts the two main characters' personalities slightly. Yamada especially suffers from this treatment. Each segment of the OVA more or less comes off like this: Yamada is insecure, Kase-san makes her feel special. It comes off as one-sided and that Yamada isn't strong. But that is only because so much of the manga is left out.

The manga provides a much more balanced insight into their relationship and into each of the main characters so that we see each of their strengths and weaknesses and we see the mutual reasons why they are together. It's a bit hard in the OVA to appreciate what Kase sees in Yamada if you haven't read the manga. That's too bad because in the manga, we see Kase's vulnerability and insecurity a lot more and we see how complete a person Yamada really is.

The animation, however, is lovely. It's pretty simple animation, but the backgrounds are beautifully water-colored and light, the character designs look just how they should, and the voice casting and acting is perfect. These are absolutely the Yamada and Kase that we know and love from the manga. We also get so many cute and squee moments, like we would expect. There is no service, which is awesome. It's a wholesome yuri if ever there was one and the OVA does the manga justice in that department as well.

So basically, if you are a fan of the manga, you will love the OVA because it brings them to life, and you can plug in the details from your own reading. But if this is your first encounter with these characters and their story, then it will be confusing, and they won't necessarily be as likable nor will the drama make much sense. Further, the overall structure of the OVA (four condensed episodes) doesn't have the feel of a cohesive narrative which hurts its watch-ability.

I wanted to love it. But I only really liked it. And I only really liked it because I love the manga and know the manga enough to plug in the gaps. It's a shame that it wasn't given a full series, because, even a 13 episode series could have done it so much more justice. However, we should also be thankful we got anything at all, given the history of this series. And we should be really happy that the first volume in the sequel series is coming soon!!!!!  All told, Kase-san and Morning Glories gets a 7/10 (but I still love it!).


Please legitimately purchase or borrow manga and anime. Never read scanlations or watch fansubs. Those rob the creators of the income they need to survive and reduce the chance of manga and anime being legitimately released in English.

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