Alright, so it’s a bit old now, but I didn’t get a chance to see it until recently, and honestly? It was pretty great.
I’ve seen some pretty lukewarm reviews for it, and I can almost understand why. Right off the bat, this isn’t a very intellectual production, but it doesn’t have to be. Not only that, but for what it is, it’s written better than a decent majority of other contemporary anime.
I haven’t gotten a chance to read the manga yet, so I can’t compare it to that. I have, however, watched the original anime, and I can safely say that if you were a fan of the TV anime you will love the OVA. There are a couple changes in the character designs, and to me the characters had a slightly different feel to them, but it’s actually to the OVA’s benefit. The characters feel more like themselves somehow, save maybe for Wolfwood, but even in his case I think they did a decent job. I suppose I could try to analyze each character individually, but it really wouldn’t due this justice; it’s something you have to experience for yourself.
Being that the OVA is a self-contained story that happens somewhere in the middle of the anime, they inevitably had to add a few new characters. This includes the main antagonist, Gasback, a few of his partners in crime, and a new protagonist character named Amelia. The characterization is decent. Certain elements of Gasback seem a little cliched, in particular his borderline fetishistic obsession with perfect robberies. On the other hand, I would argue that that’s not where the real meat and potatoes of his character lies. His philosophy isn’t particularly deep, but for the purposes of the movie it does it’s job. Besides, I think to flesh it out would require more time than is necessary, so like I said, it does it’s job. As for Amelia, she’s driven by revenge, but I think her motivations are handled pretty realistically.
The plot is basically one of the earlier episodes of the TV anime expanded into a full length movie. This works pretty well, because it gives you adequate time to get to know all the characters, as well as build up the plot. Now that I think about it, as much as it resembles one of the early episodes, it couldn’t have played out the same in just 30 minutes. The climax would not have had the same significance, though admittedly there’s one plot element in particular that wastes the audience’s time. I mean, logically speaking, anyone who knows how this fits into the larger canon (or even knows the character involved) will see right through it, but maybe that’s missing the point.
…or maybe it was just dumb.
Aside from that one plot element, my only complaint with this whole thing is the amount of action. I expected a bit more running, shooting, bullet dodging shenanigans, and what little there was played out pretty quickly. I guess it makes sense, though. Vash wasn’t exactly taking on an army. Besides, they didn’t sell out the story for more action, and I can definitely respect that.
Lastly, I just wanted to touch on the art. Visually, this OVA is great. The animation, the detail… it’s all wonderful. I did mention that the character designs were slightly different, and I think Vash’s signature gun was changed to be more like the manga version. Even if I didn’t find the story entertaining, I would say to watch this for the visuals, but I did so watch it for both.
Seriously, go watch it, it’s good.