Gravitation: Lyrics of Love
Before the well known anime hit Japanese TV’s in 2001, there was another adaptation of the boy’s love manga, Gravitation, in the form of an OVA in 1999. Animated by a completely different company (Plum) and directed by the man behind the Excel Saga anime (Shinichi Watanabe), the OVA serves as a separate entity from the TV series altogether, while at the same being an ideal companion for it.
After the success of their debut album, Bad Luck are now back in the recording studio working on their follow up, but once again Shuichi’s love life intervenes in the process. Concerned that Yuki isn’t talking to him, Shuichi is unable to write any lyrics for the new album. Things go from bad to worse when his true love ends up writing lyrics for the rival band, Little Gnasper!
As the OVA is 2 years older and made by a completely different team, changes from the 13 episode anime series are to be expected. Art is a big one with the style looking hand drawn and character designs being slightly different (e.g. Shuichi’s hair is more of a wine red colour than bright girly pink). The humor isn’t as wacky as before with less emphasis on ‘out of the blue’ gags (you won’t see Shuichi suddenly running around in a banana suit here) but you’ll get hilarious quick wits and perfect timing slapstick thanks to the director’s natural flare for comedy. The OVA is also a little racier including a sexual dream sequence that gives the DVD its 15 certificate. Despite the changes, the OVA still balances the romance, comedy and drama of the story in musical harmony, and it’s as much fun to watch as the TV series.
Despite offering a few flashbacks of Shuichi’s and Yuki’s developing relationship, the OVA doesn’t serve well as a standalone story; it was made at the time for fans of the manga, so it won’t be an ideal entry to the boy’s love genre. However it makes the perfect accompaniment to the TV series as it can be seen as a sequel (a final journey at your favourite characters) or as a side story (to break between the more angsty episodes of the TV series).
Music will be an acquired taste as the vocal tracks have a distinctive 90s sound with its techno-pop melodies, but it’ll be a delight for Japanese pop fans or at least a laugh with Engrish lyrics in the likes of ‘Blind Game again’, ‘Spicy Marmalade’ and ‘Smashing Blue’. The dubbing was recorded after the TV show, so after 13 episodes of experience with their characters the performances are much improved in both delivery and comical timing compared to earlier TV episodes. Choices of actors will probably divide fans but they play the parts they’re given well.
The OVA comes packed full of extras including an anime and manga comparison, linear notes, a gallery and an option to watch the 2 episodes without dialogue, just music and subtitles, so you can sing along with the pop songs. Whether you’d want to, however, is another story altogether.
Gravitation is still the only boy’s love anime currently available in the UK and is a solid one at that with decent comedy and the romance side of it not too bold for new comers of the genre. ‘Lyrics of Love’ is definitely one for fans of the story but is best to be viewed along with the manga or TV series. If you’ve yet to invest in Gravitation, grab the UK box set as it contains both the TV series and the OVA in one complete package.