Hal: SLA Screening Review

Nearing the end of Scotland Loves Anime, we were treated to two 50 minute OVAs to finish this year’s festival. The first was Hal, a romance/drama that was created by one of the popular upcoming studios – but did this short length feature make for an interesting watch?

WIT Studio created this OVA and yes, this is the studio that also created one of the most popular TV anime series of the year: Attack On Titan. Saying that, though, it’s good to see that Studio WIT has created more of a ‘slice of life’ anime project. It was directed by Ryoutarou Makihara who makes his debut here as a director after contributing to some impressive anime in the role as a key animator for shows such as Summer Wars and Tatami Galaxy.

The film takes place in a near futuristic Japan setting. It opens with robot Q01 witnessing an accident involving a plane carrying someone called Hal, whom Q01’s owner knew very well (he was in a relationship with the owner’s granddaughter Kurumi). Q01 ends up becoming an exact copy of Hal to try and help Kurumi recover from her loss; however when the ‘Q01 Hal’ arrives at Kurumi’s location, she ignores him at first. As the film progresses, Kurumi starts to accept him and begins talking to ‘Q01 Hal’ about the past.

It’s a simple story at the beginning but it does well to unravel the relationship between Hal and Kurumi before the plane crash. It was never a perfect relationship to begin with and this makes it feel realistic. These revelations come in the form of futuristic devices that show people’s memories and Q01-as-Hal starts to understand how both of them felt.

One of the ideas that I really liked about the film is that almost all of the side characters are elderly and likeable,bringing some suprisingly light-hearted comedy to the table. I will admit that it’s refreshing to see a bunch of supportive characters that aren’t all teenagers.

There is a twist at the end of the OVA but I felt like it was a bit overdone (it legitimately reminded me of an overreactive Attack On Titan twist); however, it’s still a clear and somewhat effective surprise.

Because it’s an OVA, there are some moments in the movie that feel rushed or never really touched on – like Hal’s dark past, which is briefly shown in a flashback but never explored, or how Q01 was created. But overall the OVA ended on a satisfying note.

The animation is another highlight; the film is colourful and well detailed, especially inside various rooms. I couldn’t really fault it.

In Summary

I would recommend Hal to anyone who wants a refreshing romantic drama anime. Look forward to this as it will have a UK release in future.

7 / 10