Original video animations, OVA’s for short, are commonly made for popular anime series. They often explore original storylines not in the show, or adapt scenarios that we’re familiar with. They usually are the same length as a regular episode, but aren’t included in the original show, acting as their own separate entity. Either way, OVA’s give fans a chance to appreciate their beloved anime series in new ways.
For this first set of minireviews for OVA’s I’ve seen, I’m also slightly breaking my own rules. I’m going to be looking at videos based around Gurren Lagann, called Parallel Works. These are not episode length videos – they aren’t longer than a few minutes, but despite the length they generally contain original storylines, different animation styles, and various songs from the original Gurren Lagann soundtrack.
In a sense, these are still OVA’s but much shorter in length and going by a different name. Many of the Parallel Works are strange or completely silly, but there are some really creative and interesting ones among them. These are my favorites because of the solid animation, music, or even the narrative they have to tell.
Parallel Works 1 (Rap is a Man’s Soul!)
This has a much longer title, so I’m just going to refer to it as Parallel Works 1. Taking place in a fantasy, medieval setting, Simon, Kamina, and Viral are sword wielders fighting to save Nia from the villain, designed to resemble the large, final Anti-Spiral form of the original anime. The music is enjoyable, the animation is top notch as it’s in the same style of the anime, and the action scenes while extremely short are still exciting to watch. Parallel Works 1 is a fun and creative take on the series while keeping the core aspects of the anime that everyone enjoys.
Parallel Works 8 (All You Bastards, Get Fired Up!)
Parallel Works 8 is arguably the most “canon” of the videos. This Parallel Works explores the past of Lordgenome in his battle against the AntiSpirals many years ago after they attacked earth. His forces gain an edge in the battle, but after learning of the Spiral Nemesis, Lordgenome loses his will to fight. In despair, he attacks his own forces and their battle is lost, leading to his eventual rise as king to ensure that humans don’t rise up against the AntiSpirals again. The animation style is very distinct, the soundtrack fits the action scenes well, and helps develop Lordgenome in a new way that wasn’t seen in the anime.
Parallel Works 10 (The Sense of Wonder)
Parallel Works 10 is a wonderfully animated video, and my personal favorite of the Parallel Works. It’s a new take on the love story of Simon and Nia, with differing character designs and new animation style. Simon and Nia are one of my favorite couples in anime, and yet even in this original narrative, they can’t stay together and have their happy ending. What this Parallel Works does well (besides breaking my heart again) is telling its own unique story of love and loss while mirroring the love story in Gurren Lagann. Finally, the music is fantastic and created solely for this video, matching the tone and theme perfectly.
Parallel Works 11 (My XXX is the Best in the Universe)
One of the arguably more strange (yet beautiful) ones in terms of visuals, sharing the same animation style as Nia’s flashback in Gurren Lagann. Not only are the visuals strange, but seeing Nia hack Beastmen to death with a butcher’s knife is an amusing yet terrifying image. However, this Parallel Works also explores Simon and Nia’s relationship and how they pull each other out of the darkness and sadness of their lives. This is especially done well when the light shines through the above the dead tree, and alludes to their love story by showing them grow up. The animation style and imagery may be off putting at first, but this Parallel Works is ultimately about the significance of Simon and Nia’s relationship.
Parallel Works 12 (Goodbye, Dai Gurren)
Parallel Works 12 focuses on Darry and Gimmy during the fight in Dai Gurren against Lordgenome’s army of Beastmen. They find doors that lead to seemingly new worlds within the heart of the ship, eventually finding a man in a sheep costume. He has a conversation with them that is unfortunately not translated in the video. However, a fan was awesome enough to translate the dialogue and insert it in the comments, which I’ve pasted below. The things this character had to say are pretty interesting in relationship to Gurren Lagann‘s overarching narrative:
Does it look like they can win the war?
I’m going to make a snack now
You’ll have some too, right?
I have tea too
There’s everything here
I’d like some alcohol too, but I don’t have anymore
I was lying before, there’s really nothing here
Those are old memories
Old memories of an old world
This is a library I know.
I’ve known for quite a while now
That it will be over soon
scratches himself Fleas
It’s okay, I can’t complain
Besides, old memories aren’t needed by anyone anymore
Taking them out isn’t allowed……
It’s too bad, I can’t go with you
But I’m glad I was able to meet you two in the end
If you haven’t had a chance to see the Parallel Works for Gurren Lagann and are a fan of the show, you should definitely check these out. Many of them have silly fan service or bizarre imagery, but there are also some really great ones that add a lot to the lore of Gurren Lagann, or just insert the characters into a new, creative setting.
I’ll be back with more minireviews of the OVA’s for Attack on Titan and Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood in the coming weeks! Are there any OVA’s that you think I should watch? Let me know in the comments!