The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Bungaku Shoujo Memoire

Title: Bungaku Shoujo Memoire
Genre: Drama/Romance
Company: Production I.G.
Format: 3 OVA
Dates: 25 Jun 2010 – 24 Dec 2010

Synopsis: Amano Touko is an enthusiastic, energetic, if slightly odd young girl who has a love for books… as well as a secret. Her love of books extends to the point where she will actually eat them, literally. Touko is a Literature Girl, relying on stories inscribed on paper and print for sustenance. Told at a young age by her now late father that she must only eat books in front of a person important to her, Touko now lives with her aunt who sees her as a burden. One day she finds a book, rejected for publication, written by an author with the pen name “Inoue Miu”. She becomes smitten after reading the book.

The Highlights
Logic: Not one of Bungaku Shoujo’s strengths.
Seiyuu: Excellent from the three female leads; Hirano Aya is at home voicing villainesses.
Miu’s story: Dark and disturbing; she’s wretched, but at least somewhat explained here.
Nanase’s story: Long and pointless.

Released as a companion prequel to the concurrently running film, Bungaku Shoujo, the three OVA Bungaku Shoujo Memoire goes towards fleshing out the three important female characters and their respective backstories and relationships with the male lead, Konoha. Its willingness to delve deeper into the characters than the movie is a large reason why I enjoyed Memoire more, and while logic is never going to be a strong suit of Bungaku Shoujo (at least going by what I’ve seen of it), it’s a little easier to embrace the logical dissonance in this outing as part of a set of character flaws. Once I got past that point, the first two OVAs became interesting… but no matter how I look at it, the third OVA is a waste of time.

My biggest problem with Bungaku Shoujo wasn’t just that it essentially had two resolutions (which is something of a cop-out of itself), but that the first of those resolutions was so utterly unsatisfying. Ironically, Memoire avoids having that problem by having no resolution. The reason the movie’s first resolution was so infuriating was because of the character of Miu, the subject of Memoire’s second episode, and while she’s still just as patently unlikable and the purveyor of some rather despicable actions here also, the significantly darker tone of her episode actually went a long way to making it the most interesting of the series. Miu’s portrayal is done fairly well here: her actions are rage-inducing, but they’re not absolved. Instead, her background gives us a few reasons why she’s so ill-adjusted and attention-seeking, but spares viewers the insult of asking us to forgive her.

Rather than building on the atmosphere created by the second OVA, the third outing gives us some serious mood whiplash. Nanase’s backstory about a girl who can’t bring herself to confess to her secret crush is so standard, it’s insulting. What may have been engaging for five minutes or cute and humourous for ten is instead dragged out for 25 minutes. When it gets the point where Nanase is walking into bookcases and garbage bins like an idiot during lame, misguided attempts give Konoha some cookies, you know the wellspring of entertainment from romantic miscommunication has been sucked drier than a punchbowl filled with raspberry cordial at a six-year-old’s birthday party.

I say I liked the OVAs more than the movie, but there’s a certain amount of dissonance that goes along with rewarding the OVAs because they lacked the movie’s gumption to deliver an ending, no matter how frustrating said ending was. The aesthetics here can’t compete with the silver screen outing, but everything’s still reasonably polished and the seiyuu cast is excellent: Hanazawa Kana continues her impeccable recent form, Hirano Aya is utterly comfortable voicing the villainess (something I’ve only recently noticed that she seems to do particularly well), and I doubt I’ll ever find a reason to say anything bad about Mizuki Nana’s acting. I’d be more strident in my preference for Memoire if only the Nanase character wasn’t just as pointless here as she was in the movie.

The Rating: 6
6/10

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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