Listen To Me Girls, I Am Your Father (OVA)
If you have not seen the original television series, I advise you to read the existing review by Aiden Foote and be aware that this review contains spoiler text.
Following the events of the television series, Yuuta Segawa and the Takanashi girls continue to do their best to live as a functional and loving family unit. The first OVA covers the family celebrating the anniversary of the departure of the girls' parents, while the second skips four years into the future, in which a pair of unexpected houseguests pay a visit as an important decision is made that will alter the family's future forever.
The original series was something of a surprise: seemingly obvious moe-bait fanservice fodder that actually turned out to have the kernel of a heartfelt story hidden within, and while never a great show, it managed to avoid most of the pitfalls that you would expect of something in this genre. That being said, it apparently didn't garner quite enough attention to merit a sequel TV series, but this pair of OVAs was released to definitively tie a few loose ends for the anime-only crowd.
Now, there are a few things to point out here: half of the first OVA involves an utterly ludicrous "trapped in a closet" scenario that is completely contrived in order to put Sora and Raika in compromising positions for the sake of "comedy", which pretty much highlights the series' biggest flaw: its willingness to sacrifice screen time better suited to storytelling for cheap and honestly unfunny fan service. It's telling, too, that Sako makes his only appearance in the OVAs in this segment; had this been placed anywhere in the series, it would be the Big Lipped Alligator Moment of the franchise, an incident never, ever to be referenced again. OVAs tend to often be excuses for creators to show off fan services too hot for television, and unfortunately the creators fall into that trap here, but thankfully not for long.
Fortunately, the rest of the OVAs highlight what the series gets right, and all too easily gets glossed over with all the crazy moe fan service antics: the actual situation of the Takanashi family. One of the nagging details of the television series is that the parents are implied to have died in a plane crash, though the persistent terminology is "disappeared". Half of the first OVA (the half that isn't unfortunate and uncomfortable filler fan service) revolves around the family coping with Yuri and Shingo's departure anniversary -- Hina's interpretation of how she chooses to celebrate her parents is simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking. This is, however, nothing compared to the second OVA, in which Yuri and Shingo themselves return to the Takanashi household four years later ... as ghosts.
You'll need the Kleenex for this one. Getting to really spend time with Yuri and Shingo (who are fun, hilarious, and, most heartbreakingly, completely relatable characters) underscores just how much of a loss their deaths have been for the girls and for Yuuta (remember, Yuri was sort of *his* mom too), and just how hard Yuuta's job has been trying to take both of their places. And in the ensuing four years, ostensibly covered in the intervening light novels, quite a bit has indeed changed: Hina is now a grade schooler and mature enough to leave home on her own; Miu has reestablished a healthy relationship with her Russian birth mother Sasha (who pops in briefly in the novels as a potential romantic interest for Yuuta) and is looking to follow in her footsteps as a fashionista.
Sora has undergone the biggest change: not only is she now eighteen, but she's completely outgrown her tsundere adolescence and become a determined, responsible, and earnest young woman (while amusingly inheriting Yuri's cosplay collection), and largely fulfills the maternal role in the family. Which means it's not that much of a surprise to Miu and Hina (but comes as a massive shock to Yuri and Shingo visiting from beyond the veil ... and likely a lot of the audience) when Sora decides to follow her heart by marrying the man she loves. Big hint: it's not Sako. Fortunately, that choice feels a lot more organic and even logical than it would initially seem, and given that Yuri and Shingo give their blessing before heading back to a presumably happy afterlife, all's well that ends well.
Watching the characters after the time leap makes me actually wish we'd been there as viewers to actually experience the character growth: time has made both Miu and Sora gentler, more genuine, and more relatable characters, both largely outgrowing the outright brattiness of the television series. Hina, of course, is totes adorbs (that's what she's there for, duh) but she hasn't made it into the terrible tweens yet: good thing Yuuta and the rest of the fam will be ready for that when it comes. It's actually a shame to know this is a definitive end to the series because so much more could have been done with the characters in the interim (the novels end at volume 18 which is where the second OVA leaves off), but at the same time, there is a sense of closure here that is often lacking in many anime and manga series.
Though a quarter of the run-time is wasted on an overlong and truly regrettable fan-service gag, the rest of the OVA series captures the franchise at its best: a warm-hearted story about a young family learning to survive great loss (taking cues from the love and kindness shown by those left behind) and move forward and even thrive. Some better writing could have made this whole experience truly excellent and inspirational, but its unfortunate shackling to tired moe fan service tropes keep it from attaining excellence. While this could (and probably should) have been a sequel TV series (which might have helped with the rather abrupt transition between fan service and drama), what we get is more of an epilogue, but at least the franchise gets to go out on a relative high note.
Much like the television series itself, it opens with uncomfortable and unnecessary fan service, only to defy expectations to end with oddly heartwarming romance drama: the result is uneven but ultimately pleasant. Fans who fast-forward through the first half of the first episode and focus on the drama aspect might jump this up a star rating. — Carlos/Giancarla Ross
Recommended Audience: You don't *actually* get to see Sora or Raika's naughty bits onscreen, but it's a very unnecessarily close call. Another brief shower scene featuring an adult female character which is played for laughs. There's also rather serious and upfront treatment of the deaths of the girls' parents / Yuta's sister and brother-in-law, and how the survivors cope with that loss. Given all the fan service, the actual romance is surprisingly chaste (hand-holding and one plot-important kiss). Teens and up.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital source, Japanese with English subtitles.
Review Status: Full (2/2)
Listen To Me Girls, I Am Your Father (OVA) © 2013-2015 King Records
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