Well, Romance and Relationships Month is drawing to a close, my second (and certainly not the last) themed month of reviews. This week's review is now over "My Dear Marie", another relatively less known OVA from the 90s. But is it a lost gem, or should it go into the bin?
"My Dear Marie" is 3 episode OVA dating back from 1996. Originally written by Sakura Takeuchi as a 10 volume manga published between 1994 and 1997. The OVA director was Tomomi Mochizuki, with productio work done by Studio Pierrot, which brought us such works as Yu Yu Hakusho, Naruto, Saiyuki and the likes. So, sounds promising enough. Now, onto the OVA itself.
Episode 1, titled "The Birth of Marie", introduces the main characters and the basic plot. First off, there's Hiroshi, a typical college male nerd (complete with glasses and dorky looks). He has loneliness problems, something that makes him relate to me personally. He has a crush on Mari, a female tennis player with purple hair (cus its anime). She is completely oblivious to his feelings, of course. So, Hiroshi decides if "yeah I can't get a girl I'll make one myself". He then constructs a female android, made to look entirely human. He spends a lot of time building her, basing her entirely on his crush Mari. Once finished, he names his creation "Marie". She awakes the next day, coming across as being rather nice, likeable, but behaves more like a younger sibling than as a girlfriend. Of course, Hiroshi doesn't mind this, since he made the robot Marie out of need for a companion, then really anything else.
But, one day, Marie and Mari meet unexpectedly, something Hiroshi didn't want. This is awkward to say the least, as the only difference between the two is hair color: Mari has purple hair, Marie has pink hair. Of course, Hiroshi covers this up by saying that Marie is his 18 yr old younger sister, which works surprisingly well. Of course, Tanaka, another guy on the tennis team who likes Mari, starts crushing on Marie big time. Marie does some tennis, which she is very good at, since she is modeled on Mari. The two girls (Mari and Marie) have a tennis match to determine who goes on a date with Hiroshi or Tanaka. Marie wins, so Mari and Hiroshi go on a date together, while Tanaka attempts to 'get it on' with Marie, but she evades his advances.
Marie tries to catch up with the couple, like a slightly obsessed but well-meaning sibling. But, she seems to be one step behind the couple, as well getting distracted by doing good deeds, like saving kids from an incoming train and saving the elderly from an apartment fire. Finally, Hiroshi ends up leaving his date with Mari early in order to find Marie. The two reunite, and go to a local noodle shop and enjoy a quiet meal together. It's the simplest things in life that one must appreciate, I suppose.
Episode 2, "The Appearance of Hibiki Kennou" continues the story. It brings in another character, Hibiki Kennou. She is a tomboy fighter and bit of a troublemaker, picking up men just to steal money from them (minus the s__) or beating up punks for money. On one occasion, Hibiki is beating a whole group of school punks by herself, when Marie was walking by and intervening. Hibiki also meets p with Hiroshi, and love at first sight occurs. She becomes a bit flustered, wondering why she might have feelings for such a dork, spouting out lines like "Longing for someone you never met before..." and "[Love], its an unprofitable emotion".
One day, she tracks down Hiroshi to his place, and finds out that Marie is a robot (oh noes!!!). She then blackmails Hiroshi into going on a date with her to keep Marie's secret, well a secret. Their date includes going to an amusement park, karaoke (bad singing ftw),generally having fun. The date culminates with the two going to Hibiki's apartment for a nightcap. Of course, this was just to get Hiroshi to 'do it' with her. Of course, neither one of them are particularly knowledgeable in this area, which is both hilarious and pathetic at the same time.
Thankfully, Marie comes to the rescue, saving the viewer from any hentai scenes (thank god). Hibiki attempts to blackmail Marie by bringing up the fact that she is a robot, and that revelation might ruin Marie's life. Marie's response is as follows: “I would rather be a robot with a brother who loves me, than a human woman with no one to love” (Absolute zing ftw). This hit Hibiki to her core, she contemplates this during the night.
Of course, Hibiki finds out that Mari and Marie are rather similar. This angers her so much, that she tracks down Hiroshi to beat him to a bloody pulp (rightfully so, I might add). Marie and Hibiki then fight, the only action scene of this entire OVA. It is surprisingly well-done, all things considered. It has lot of character insight, with Hibiki and Marie both being characters with similar inadequacy, that being unfulfilled love. Also, Hiroshi (who's watching the fight and tries to stop it) notices that Hibiki looks a bit familiar. The fight ends with a punchout. The episode closes out with Hiroshi realizing that Hibiki was a girl he once knew in his childhood. There was an incident where they were playing in a kiddie pool, he pushed her into the kiddie pool with a 'scary face'. It scarred Hibiki since then, and impacted what kind of person she is. Of course, it turns out he did that in order to protect her from a nearby wild animal, which bit him in the arm. The two, now with more understanding, part ways.
The third and last episode, "Dreaming Android" is the odd one out of the three episodes made. In fact, it is a reference to Philip K Dick's novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" (in fact referred to once in this episode). This episode deals with Marie wanting to be able to dream, which she finds to be something new she wants to try. She gains this ability with help by Hiroshi.
Rest of the episode becomes an extended dream sequence (series of vignettes with no real flow or reason to them) Somethings to note on it:
-catchphrase: "Dreams can be wishes" pops up from time to time
-dwelling on nature of reality and the individual, theme of relationships/love, etc.
-rehashes scenes in sequence, or scenes from first 2 eps but with a twist
-tries to be philosophical and deep at first, yet comes off as being rather strange and weird
-halfway goes heavily into Marie introspective mode (big time)
Relationship to Mari (Marie as a reflection) and Hiroshi (unfulfilled love)
Reversal of fortunes: Marie as human, Hiroshi as robot
The ending? Well, it is certainly unexpected. Unfortunately, its is a cliffhanger, as no other episodes exist of this series. What a bummer, in my opinion.
So, onto the good. Unlike last week's entry, this has good things going for it. The story is compelling and interesting, the characters interesting and nuanced. The story is very strong in the first 2 episodes then goes completely wtf for the third and final episode. The english dub voice acting is decent for the most part, though not particularly noteworthy. Still listenable, though.
Also of note is the ending song. It is called "Hello, Strange Days". The singer of the song is the Japanese VA for Marie, Yuko Miyamara. It is a love letter, essentially, talking about love and life (the underlying theme of this OVA), done over a montage of Marie as a human girl growing up, experiencing the life she never had. It is rather sad and poignant, especially after watching all 3 episodes.
There is nothing really bad about this OVA, expect that it is another unfinished OVA. But, unlike Last of the Last Labyrinth, this fact makes me sad rather than just 'meh'. It is a shame no other episodes were made. Granted there's a manga but it never made it stateside and I doubt it ever will. UGH -sigh-
So, in conclusion, "My Dear Marie" is a lost gem. It is a pretty good OVA, very well done. What a shame only 3 episodes exist! I can only hope that there is a revival/remake in the near future.Yeah, I can dream, right? This is definitely a MUST-SEE, especially if you are a fan of sci-fi rom comedies.
Well, that ends Romance and Relationships Month. Expect a post midway through this week with the reviews I will do in March.