Bungaku Shoujo is a project consisting out of four OVAs and a movie. I remember not really being impressed by the first OVAs, which didn’t really give me the motivation to check out the other parts of the OVA, so I just decided to go with the movie instead. Which, as it turns out, is completely different.
Before I continue however, I do want to say the following: with most of my series and movie reviews, I try to not include any spoilers. With this movie however, it’s impossible to really talk about my impression of this movie without discussing some of them, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, you might want to skip the rest of the paragraphs of this review.
I say this of course because Bungaku Shoujo marketed itself as some cheesy romance in which the lead character gets to date a cute girl who eats books. The prologue of the movie reinforces this completely when it throws cliche after cliche when introducing its characters. And in the end, this turned out to be a huge red herring for the real subject matter of this series: dealing with a mentally insane childhood friend.
At this point I’m still not sure whether the creators tried too hard with that character, but nevertheless my highlight of this movie was the interplay between her and the lead character as it really took its time to explore how both of them feel about each other. With excellent animation, I felt myself to really care about these two, and to be honest, the entire cast quickly loses the stereotypes associated with them at the introduction. There is a bit of overacting at times, but even there it feels subtle and restrained, to really give off the impressions of a natural cast. I’m definitely surprised by that.
My main problem with this movie was the conclusion. Basically, most of the major conflicts are solved with a cheesy speech that I feel was totally unnecessary. I would have really preferred it if the characters just talked to each other to sort out their differences. Or heck, went to a proper psychiatrist.
The animation for a movie’s standards is pretty good, but average. There are a few still frames and off models here, but characters are well animated. For movie’s standards it’s nothing extraordinary, though. The soundtrack itself is also nothing to write home about.
Nevertheless it’s a compelling teenaged drama with a lot of symbolism to novels (most notable Kenji Miyazawa’s Night on the Galactic Railroad). It’s not the best and the whole “demon eating books” turned out to be just a gimmick that could have easily been omitted without changing anything, but it definitely kept my attention throughout the movie.
|Storytelling:||8/10 – Takes its time to tell the story, great sense of mystery.|
|Characters:||8/10 – The acting tries a little too hard at times, but nevertheless the cast is believable and charming.|
|Production-Values:||8/10 – Solid and detailed, but doesn’t stand out compared to other movies.|
|Setting:||8/10 – Aside from one gimmick that’s not used to its potential, it does its job of supporting the story, especially the book symbolism.|