Mamotte Shugogetten OAV
I've seen some, but not all of the original TV series that preceded this OAV series. And either things changed a lot in the meantime or this OAV has decided to take quite a different approach. It's got a different feel, and focus, and I think I actually like it more.
One interesting element is that while the feel may be different the story continues on from the TV series. Thus there is no introduction or character information to get you started. While I didn't recognise all the players the central element is that a young boy, alone while his adventuring parents explore the mysteries of the world, gets sent another strange relic to clutter up the house. However this relic is actually `loaded', and when it goes off he finds himself with a `moon protector', a spirit who will protect him. He also gets a sun spirit who will make him happy. Although given that they both have great magical powers, and a poor understanding of humanity, he mostly ends up needing protection from them and their rivalry.
Unlike other similar stories (coughOh, My Goddess cough) these two are not afraid to flaunt their powers in public. Thus they become a part of the social scene at the school and in his life... especially since they sort of demolish the building in a very early episode. They also become part of his romantic life, with a subtle but strong attraction between the lead and the moon spirit, which of course drives the sun spirit into open competition for his attention and affection. And whereas the TV series was as much about the comedic potential of the situation, this one is solidly on the romantic side of the fence.
So in other words if you liked the comedy and magical confrontation of the TV series you may well be horrified by what you see here. What I remember as beautiful spirits seem to look a lot more like school girls with strange hair do's (and big busts) this time around. Sure, they've still got their powerful magic, but they are now integrated into the human social dynamics.
Indeed the romance between the moon spirit and the lead male seems even more tentative than before. Possibly it could be because their romance has grown more powerful that it has become harder to be honest. Possibly it is because most of the other characters wouldn't mind interfering in the relationship. But mostly, I think, it is because this tentative and complicated interaction makes for a much more poignant and complex story. As a result there are `little' misunderstandings and gentle interaction at the heart of the stories I have seen so far, as well as musings on the heart and mind of the other. It's quiet, subtle and quite entertaining.
But it's admittedly very strongly focused on this element and as a result the mood is subtle, slow moving and the action all in the fine details. If you like your romances to be a bit more direct, or want some action and comedy, then you're quite probably going to find this awfully tedious. Taken in a wider context it is possible to say that nothing of any real importance happens, and this nothing happens very slowly. I've seen many shoujo series with more pace and energy than this one, and I'm not even sure if this is a shoujo piece.
For myself, well, I'm a sucker for this sort of thing. The deep and clear affection between the two combines nicely with the difficulty they have in expressing or acting on it. Sure it's so classical it's almost corny, but it still works. And the `spirit' nature is used to amplify this. She truly does come from a different world and this does change how they perceive one another. Meanwhile the various magics are used to support the scenes, and add some nice visual touches, rather than as the focus. I liked it, but I can easily imagine that many won't. And I'd really like to see the rest of the TV series now to see whether they cleanly merge.
The production itself is quite reasonable. It's got a sort of shoujo sensibility to the scenes and character designs, but it's not quite as attractive as I would have expected. At times the characters look a bit plain and under-detailed. And while there are some scenes of great beauty the vast majority are quite mundane and un-remarkable. Still, it's simply a stage for gesture, dialog and mood so it works well enough. The dialog is surprisingly simple but the core voices do a good job on it. The opening and closing music is pleasant and fitting, but I didn't notice too much incidental music.