[Anime Review] Bungaku Shoujo: Memoire

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While this OVA trilogy is only a premier to the film version, it is still a very robust and alluring way to get ready for what is to come.

Information

Title: Bungaku Shoujo: Memoire (Translated as “Book Girl: Memoire”)
Episodes: 3
Producer: Production I.G,
Genre: Mystery, Drama, Romance, School Life
Recommended/Similar Titles: Bungaku Shoujou (Film Version), Night on the Galactic Railroad, 5 Centimeters per Second
Source: DVD (Packaged with a promotional art book)

Synopsis

A three episode prequel that it is told through the eyes of three heroines for the upcoming film. The stories containing them are:

Prelude of the Girl Who Gazes into Dreams — Amano Touko is a high school student with the strange power of being able to experience books by savouring them. While visiting the workplace of her deceased father, she stumbles upon the rejected drafts for a writing contest. One of them has such an impact on her that she asks her acquaintance there to give it one more chance.

Requiem of the Sky Dancing Angel
— Asakura Miu lives a sad and troublesome childhood due to her parents’ constant fighting. Eventually her father leaves the house and she ends up living with her bitter mother. Miu has been desperately trying to escape the harsh reality that surrounds her to the only safe place she knows: the worlds inside the books she loves. Ostracized by the kids at school, due to her imaginative mind that prompts her to frequently lie, she becomes a friend of Inoue Konoha, who rather than estranged, ends up fascinated by Miu’s tales.

Rhapsody of the Love Maiden — Unable to express her feelings toward the boy she likes, Kotobuki Nanase inadvertently makes it look like she hates Inoue Konoha instead. Her best friend, Mori Kurara, tries to help as Nanase attempts to clear up the misunderstandings she has created.

Review

It is very rare to find a series that can elicit so much interest that it actually delivers what it promises. While only being a piece to a larger picture, Bungaku Shoujo: Memoire does exactly that and does it with the expertise of an artisan. The story is told of over the course of three episodes by three heroines that are somehow linked to a young man named Konoha Inoue and the events to later transpire in the theatrical production. Not give too much way, but with each story, Konoha’s immediate relationship is established by means of the heroine.  Even though that does not say much (in attempt to keep the story’s true nature under wraps) Bungaku Shoujou Memoire is not just a skillfully executed tale, but also one with fine writing and the content support. You see this by the mood portrayed in each heroines story and the overall impact you see through both Konoha and the girl in question. It also does a fine job of involving the viewer, but more on that later. At any rate, the story itself, mixed with a combination of magical realism, realism and stark drama; including a tinge of philosophical notes and references to other material (such as Miyazawa‘s Night on the Galactic Railroad) is graciously adequate to hold anyone’s attention.

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As aforementioned, Memoire does introduce us to the three main heroines and center protagonist in which the three OVA’s give us an examination into their personalities. The mysterious titular book girl, Amano Touko, the moody and distraught heroine Asakura Miu from the second OVA, and the tsun heroine of the last OVA, Kotobuki Nanase. Along with the main protagonist, Kohana Inoue, these characters are the main ones chronicled. There are few supporting roles (such as Sakurai Ryuuto that is like a brother to Touko and Nanase’s best friend, Mori Kurara, and others), but their exact involvement is still not known or exemplified if they even will play apart in the film. Despite this, Memoire is still very much a character driven series. The voice actors are common names and amiable one’s for their roles. They include: Kana Hanazawa (Amano Touko), Nana Mizuki (Kotobuki Nanase), and Chiwa Saito (Kohana Inoue – younger version) to name a few.

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Production I.G is the primary animator involved for the OVA’s and speaking slightly subjectively, it was a well done job both on the faithful and creativity animation of characters and representation of the promotional artwork. Animation for minuet aspects such as the backgrounds are also notable, aiding the artwork to create an aesthetically pleasing blend and painting an ethereal, nearly dream-like environment that oddly can engage the viewer more. Speaking purely of the DVD quality itself; it is acceptable. The soundtrack is also noticeable and only adds to the aforementioned aspect with both spirited and calming classical pieces aiding the backdrop. Each heroine also sings a character song for ending that fits into the mood of their personality and episode further adding to the musical selection. Shunsuke Tada is the primary director for the OVA’s and most know for his work on: Tsubasa Chronicle, Kuroko no Basket, and the 10th anniversary film for the Prince of Tennis.

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Without any prior knowledge of the light novel material or manga, I can say that I did thoroughly enjoy this so far and can imagine that this will be a nice bridge to the theatrical work. Touching back on the point I mentioned earlier with the each heroine’s individual story, I like how each conveyed a specific mood: Touko’s is more fantasized, Miu more dramatic and emotionally gripping, and Nanase’s is more for comedic relief, but also touching its own way. It is hard to say that any were a waste, since each did hold my attention and also being able to empathize with the heroine in question. Out of the three I would have to say I enjoyed Nanase’s more, yet all were wonderfully written and executed. Subjectively speaking, the execution was actually more impressive than the writing for the story, but that is just my honest opinion. Even though I am not a fan of drama, the execution made it both admirably done and also highly compelling to each heroines story. Again, that is just my take on the matter, but the series speaks for itself.

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Overall, Bungaku Shoujo: Memoire is an excellent preface to jump-start the film version and only makes me wonder how it will tie into the groundwork that has already been set. Well written, impressively executed, and satisfying animated, Memoire would be nice addition to anyone’s list that is can appreciate a nice drama/romance/supernatural based series with a hint of ethereal trimmings to support it. I am looking forward to viewing the film adaption and hope that it will be much as a treat as this was.

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Pros: Excellent writing, excellent execution, good pacing, nice soundtrack, elements of drama well expressed and handled (directing), interesting cast of characters.

Cons: Few unexplained details, DVD quality contains a little graininess and animation inconsistencies.

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6 thoughts on “[Anime Review] Bungaku Shoujo: Memoire

  1. I consider these OVAs required viewing before seeing the movie, since they cover most of the backstory that you need to know to fully grasp what’s happening. I’m pretty sure that the movie could’ve stood just fine on it’s own, but what you learn from the OVAs helps to deliver the extra emotion that you could miss otherwise.

    • They are required actually due to the way it written. These were reviewed as integrated part to the film, not separate. I will have the movie review up later, but decided to review the OVA as a standalone for people that might not want to go into the film without an opinion on the material.

  2. I’ve read the first two light novels for Book Girl (and will start the third one soon), and they’re absolutely amazing. I’m hesitant to jump in on the OVAs and movie though, since I think they adapt a later book in the series. I don’t really want to spoil anything for myself. These books are quite the emotional experience. I’ll definitely be watching these eventually, though. The screencaps look wonderful.

  3. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen these, but I remember liking Nanase’s the most, because I liked her character. A close second was Miu’s and of course, Touko’s. They did a nice job of showing these as both interwoven (through Inoue) and yet distinct in their own way. It is also, like you said, a nice build up for the movie. Though in my case, ended up watching the movie first, then I find out about Memoire and Hatsukoi(?) only after.

  4. I loved the animation in Memoire, and I thought it really helped explain the relationships between the characters before watching the movie. Right now I’m reading the novels, and it seems that they had to cut out a lot of information, which makes it even more impressive because it still felt complete when I watched it.

  5. Oh my…. I only watch Bungaku Shoujo movie. I guess i’ll give the prequel a try.
    Didn’t know they have a prequel. Thanks.

    Oh, it’s also nice to see that you recommended 5 Centimeters Per Second. Best movie ever. I even bought the graphic book The Sky Of The Longing For Memories because of it 🙂

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