There I was, surveying my domain, which is to say I was staring at my pile of things to review, and I saw the Season 3 boxset of Maria Watches Over Us. It came into my mind to review “Ciao, Sorella”…and, I smiled. Because this particular OAV makes me smile. Every time. Smiled when I watched it raw, right after it was on Japanese TV, and again when I bought the Japanese collector’s edition (complete with marble-pattered photo album) and again when I saw it subbed and yes, again when I watched it – twice – from my shiny happy boxset from Right Stuf/Nozomi.
This is the last of the third season, the last OAV for the series to date. To write the novel, this was the first time Konno Oyuki had ever gone a overseas trip for reference – and it shows. This book reads like a tour of Italy in the company of Yumi, Yoshino and Shimako. Which is exactly what it is. Many fans were disappointed with the OAV, as nothing happened. Since Lillian is the Talking Heads “Heaven” and nothing ever happens, this seemed spot on for me.
Yumi, Yoshino and Shimako are off on their second-year class trip and, as befits a private school for rich girls, they don’t go to Okinawa, they go to Italy. On tour they see exactly the same things anyone sees while on a group tour of Italy. Relax, when you watch this. Have some gelato because one does while on tour of Italy, and smile at the goofy pictures of the girls pretending to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa because, as Tsutako says, just because something is typical doesn’t mean it can’t be good.
There is a little drama in this story – Yoshino’s dark secret, Shimako’s angelic tears, but there is *way* more comedy than drama. Most of the drama is turned into comedy.
Here’s my three favorite scenes:
Yumi, Yoshino, Tsutako and Mami on a gondola ride, listening to the gondolier talking in broken English, which none of them are really fluent in, about the Bridge of Sighs. He tells them about the legend of kissing the one you love as they pass under. They look at each other like – what on earth are we supposed to do with that information? In the book, Yumi actually thinks that out loud and they talk about coming back when they have someone. Yumi thinks it might be fun to return with Sachiko.
Shimako, in tears at the sublime “Last Judgement,” standing there with Yumi, when Yoshino walks up and says, “Don’t you think Jesus is a little fat?” Awesome Yoshino moment.
And in Florence, a budgie that says, “Firenze senbei,” which was not what I adored about this scene, but that the OTHER thing the parakeet says was, “Stop it already, Satou-san.” ^_^ The win scene of the book.
There is little Yuri in this series, as there has ever been. This series is about relationships that are labeled “sister” for a good reason. There is love, of course, and I’d even go so far to say that some of that has been romantic, but forever platonic, or nearer to it. Sachiko’s admission of having missed Yumi may not make much of an impression on you, but it warms the cockles of my heart, as my late grandmother used to say.
One more thing before I forget….
Even a Shizuka drive-by is wonderful (there was one late in the novel series, in which we saw her in passing at a train station. And of course there’s the wonderful story “The Little Match Girl” in Variety Gift.) How much more wonderful to have some full-blown Shizuka time. Always a pleasure to see our old friends.
Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 9
Yuri – 1
Service – 2 (there was actually a little service in this one. Did you blink and miss it?)
Overall – 8
Now the Third Season is behind us, and we have nothing to do but await the Fourth and start collecting Special CDs and Drama CDs again! And pray to the Pizza Hut gods that they are willing to finance a final series of OVAs.