Monday, October 31, 2005

Triangle Heart: Sweet Songs Forever

Genre: Bishoujo / Bishounen / Action
Parental guidance recommended
2000 Akiyuki Shinbo, Masaki Tsuzuki, Ivory, Starchild Records

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Skysenshi's Description:
Incorporated into the review.

(4 episodes)

Action-packed musical. >>> by skysenshi
Triangle Heart: Sweet Songs Forever is based on a series of hentai bishoujo games released in the late 90s. This particular OAV comes after the events that transpired in Triangle Heart 3. Since the second and third games have completely different storylines, with 2 having its own 5-episode series, this OAV can stand on its own. Much like To Heart and Kanon, non-hentai animated features that are based on erotic dating sim games, this title also had its H aspects removed.

Triangle Heart: Sweet Songs Forever begins with an introduction to its central character, Fiasse Crystella, the talented heir to the Crystella Music School. She is about to embark on an annual concert tour, but like most of the tours that came before it, it is laden with threats to her life. Apparently, someone is interested in her inheritance and demands her cooperation. Unfazed, Fiasse calls on her trustworthy bodyguards, kodachi experts Kyouya and Miyuki and the somber, gun-toting blonde Erise.

This is a bodyguard story. What you’ll see are equal parts action and equal parts dialogue. While Fiasse is a kind-hearted, generous woman who sings for charity, she is backed by a bunch of kick-ass fighting machines. Kyouya and Miyuki’s situation may remind some shounen fans of the florist-assassins in Weiss Kreuz. The siblings run a coffee shop by day, but are trained mercenaries by night. Erise, on the other hand, is a pro who believes in protecting what her father died protecting — that is, the Crystella family.

The action scenes are far from boring, with Miyuki executing most of the impressive moves. One irony here is that the enemy notices and targets Kyouya specifically, when it is Miyuki who always single-handedly wipes out the most dangerous foes. On the first job alone, Kyouya disables one thug with Erise’s help, while his sister kills a whole band of them on her own. Nevertheless, Kyouya is not without his share of the difficult opponents, since the final showdown exhibits the skill of two of the most worthy assassins that the siblings must face.

The villains are somewhat on the weak side, with the exception of a Sephiroth/Cloud-clone (the “buster sword” just screams Final Fantasy VII) and an overage Gambit-wannabe. In fairness, though, the old geezer actually looks good despite his age and he surprisingly utters the most memorable lines in this flick. Alas, neither of the two is able to rescue the villains’ from looking totally idiotic. Their employers can’t truly be considered masters of planning and execution. For one thing, they are so easily foiled. For another, well, when you find out what it is that Fiasse will be inheriting, you might just want to slap the masterminds silly for not doing their research.

There’s not much to say about the artwork, since it is neither ugly nor stunningly beautiful (Fiasse’s look brings Belldandy to mind). The sounds are unremarkable, despite this being an anime about music and singing. The worst of it comes in the dubbing — not of the Japanese dialogues, but of the English and Mandarin. The English lines sound like they’re being read directly from an instructional manual, and the Mandarin is barely coherent — with horrible pronunciation to boot. If you’re wondering why there are English and Mandarin lines, it’s because the setting switches from Japan to England to Hong Kong. It would have been perfectly all right if they just speak Japanese the entire time and pretend everyone speaks the same language. It’s less awkward that way.

Another weakness in Triangle Heart: Sweet Songs Forever is that there are too many unimportant characters. While the coffee shop’s waitresses might have been essential to the game, they don’t really have a place in this OAV. They are introduced, yes, but they don’t do anything except take up 10 minutes of time that would have been better spent on making the bad guys more villainous.

Overall, Triangle Heart OAV has an interesting concept with equally interesting protagonists. The battle scenes, plus the exchanges among the three bodyguards, are definite attractions. The plot just needs minor tweaking, but it isn’t all that bad. Having four episodes of it is just about right.

Individual Rating: Art/Animation 7; Story 8; Characters 5; Sounds 7

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