Day 6 already!
So, if you’re new to ‘OVA Week’ here at the heap, basically speaking, I’ve got some dot points on the OVA form itself, and then the review.
Hope you enjoy these and again, I’d love to hear any suggestions you might have for future OVA-weeks 🙂
- An animated film or series made for release on video, rather than for broadcast/theatrical screening
- Generally, high budgets that can mean visual qualities are better than a typical television series
- No fixed length, nor broadcast time-constraints when it comes to storytelling
- To some extent, created outside regulation – and so they have a reputation for ‘anything goes’ when it comes to restricted content
- Often (but certainly not always) based on original scripts, rather than being adaptations
- Long wait times between episodes/installments for some OVAs
- First OVA to be described as such was 1983’s Dallos from Mamoru Oshii
- The ONA (Original Net Animation) is an obvious more modern equivalent
Open the Door (Tobira wo Akete) 1986
In the past, portal fantasy/isekai anime didn’t always use video games as the medium or impetus for the main characters to leave their home world, and this time around it’s more of a summoning actually… a small fact that’s probably most important toward the end of the film.
Open the Door is a full-length release but it doesn’t quite evoke the word ‘epic’, despite having the lead characters raise an army and despite including both a fair bit of travel and several battles. It’s not quite as ‘fun’ as an adventure-film either.
Nor is it full of angst, precisely.
It really has a tone that I’m struggling to describe. And I don’t want to suggest that the movie comes across as being so little of any one genre or mood that it actually ends up evoking none of them, either.
Nor do I want to say that things are rushed, though the anime could have been expanded into a short series with little trouble, I reckon.
What I do think Open the Door features is an interesting combination of sword & sorcery and a mix of shoujo/josei aspects, not limited to the leads being college students.
Here’s the premise from MAL:
In modern day Tokyo, three university students, Negishi Miyako (Neko-chan), Saiki Haruka, and Yamagishi Keiichiro, have magical powers that make them feel like outcasts. They come together one night and are transported to another world. They open a massive door and Neko finds that she is the Princess Neryulla, who must defeat the evil Duran III to free her people.
Having the main characters be university-aged seems like a hallmark of some older anime, and it was nice to see Neko operate in a pretty confident and competent manner, compared to her potentially being clumsy or merely a damsel, while at the same time the story doesn’t show her as a rash hot-head either.
Especially welcome perhaps, considering how easily she takes to her new role of saviour in an unfamiliar world – or also how skillfully she deals with the advances of Saiki the ‘player’.
But before I get to some spoilers, I want to cover some dot-points:
- Of the supporting cast, coming in closer to the ‘hot-head’ archetype is Dimida, who was definitely one of my favs
- As was shapeshifter Keiichiro, who had a fun Wizard of Oz kinda design, too
- I did enjoy the vague ‘He-Man’ feel to some designs of the supporting cast
- Around the mid-point or so, there’s a reflection scene where Neko is smoking a cigarette in the fantasy world, and for me it worked really well to remind us that she’s from our world. Not a huge thing, just something effective that I liked
- And finally, I have to mention that there is an actual pillow fight in this film – I reckon it’s meant to function as a ‘girls-bonding’ moment but it’s possibly just an excuse to animate feathers 😀
All right, time for a spoiler before I wrap up this review.
I mentioned the summoning aspect to Tobira wo Akete earlier, which is sort of how Neko and co all end up in the fantasy world.
This is revealed during the villain’s monologue, where the audience also learns the motivation for his action – and it’s basically boredom. Which just seems a little flat to me – I mean, “I was so bored that I tried to start a new war” doesn’t really impress 😀
More, it doesn’t make too much sense – for instance, if Duran was so hard-up for war and death, he could have gone around colonising other parts of his world, could have started plenty of conflicts at home, instead of spending 500 years searching for a physic girl from another world to use as a pawn.
… but all that aside, I still enjoyed this OVA/feature film and while the budget/animation isn’t on the scale or quality of a similar text (in terms of genre and era), like say Arion, it’s still above plenty of average TV series from the decade in terms of visuals.
Maybe not a gripping storyline, but the characters stood out enough for me to say I enjoyed it and most fantasy fans probably would too, along with fans of the era and overall 1980s aesthetic.