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Comparison of Joined In Love With You and the OVA [Updated 29 Mar 2011]

This post contains spoilers for the visual novel and anime OVA titled Sono Hanabira ni Kuchizuke wo – Anata to Koibito Tsunagi and should not be read without familiarity of both. In the interest of keeping this blog work-safe, no explicit images will be shown. This post will be updated as more material is explored. Readers are encouraged to debate any points presented here.

The OVA released on 30 July 2010, three years after the visual novel it was based on, takes a number of liberties in plot, characterization, and setting due to it telling an original story. Despite these changes, it was well-received with many fans wondering when the next episode is scheduled for release. However, the deviations that the OVA made from the source material are great enough that they warrant examination should the next episode continue their story. For the purpose of this examination, the fansub released by UFW will be used as a reference, although it was released under the name “Becoming Your Lover”.

Timeframe

The OVA takes place over three days: the flashback in St. Michael’s, the afternoon in Reo’s room, and the morning after. In contrast, the visual novel takes place over an unspecified period at least a month long. The progression of the relationship detailed in the game is compressed into three days’ time in the OVA. This has several implications on the nature of the relationship, which will become clear in later sections of this post.

The presence of cherry blossoms during the confession in the OVA suggests that Reo confessed shortly after the school year started in April. In the game, it came after a month of tension between her and Mai. In both versions, it’s implied that Mai is one of the few people who actually cares for Reo, but if the assumption that the cherry blossoms are indicative of the time period in the OVA is correct, then there has been much less time between the first day they met and the present day. Their intimacy progresses almost implausibly quickly to the point where Reo is willing to allow Mai to bathe her. This, however, can be seen as an extension of Mai’s constant concern for Reo’s well-being, which is limited to Reo implying it during her confession and Mai bringing her water, but the question of how long Mai acted this way toward Reo is still not fully answered.

Similarities in Dialogue

The most obvious change is seen after the title card. Reo falls ill, which sets the scene for most of the OVA in her room, which is never seen in the visual novels. This was most likely done to expedite the progression of their relationship from confession to consummation into several days’ time. Although a largely different storyline resulted from this change, several lines of dialogue have parallels to the visual novel, albeit in different contexts.

“If I really didn’t like it…I’d bite you and run away already.”

Reo’s response to Mai’s initial advance in the visual novel had a suggestion of threat. In later incidents in Fuguriya’s titles and the third flashback in the OVA just before their first time making love, Reo surrenders by saying “Even if I said no, you would still do it,” or something similar.

“I want to hear you moan too…”

In the visual novel, Reo says this to Mai late in the story after having been made to climax multiple times. She does this in disappointment over always being the uke and never getting a chance to make Mai feel good. In the OVA, she is allowed to touch Mai during her first sexual experience and immediately seeks to make her moan more.

“Reo, do you…love me?”

During a late-game event, Mai says this shortly before they climax and asks her to say she loves her multiple times. It signifies a change in her attitude about her relationship; up until this point, she had seen Reo primarily as a girl who needed to be cared for. By asking for a confession at this stage in their relationship, she actively seeks Reo’s affection as a lover instead of a dependent, making their sexual experiences take on a different meaning mid-event. The major difference in the two renditions of this line is timing. In the original game, this line came after multiple incidents of Mai sexually pleasuring Reo which eventually culminates in Reo returning the favor in Mai’s home. In the OVA, it’s done after only one day after the first confession and in Reo’s home. Reo has not yet experienced Mai’s love in her house, making this take on a slightly different meaning. In both cases, this question is raised in similar poses so as to give an obvious link to the original game. Both cases occur at equivalent stages in the relationship.

Discrepancies in Dialogue

Some lines that were omitted from the visual novel or introduced in the OVA cause alterations in characterization, which are explored later in this post. Some of these lines include:

I said that even though I don’t have the slightest experience in this.

Mai was not sexually active until the start of the visual novel, which makes her emotions feel more raw when she touches Reo. Her instincts are her only guide as she searches for Reo’s most sensitive areas. This implication is not present in the OVA, nor is the following line:

“What do you mean by ‘come’?”

The first scene in the OVA is Reo’s first sexual experience. The equivalent scene in the visual novel showed her to be afraid, having never experienced such acute pleasure in her life.

“I was able to let Mai know how I feel, even if she’ll hate me for it.”

This is Reo’s thought immediately after she confesses in the OVA. Reo’s expectations of Mai’s reaction to her confessions was changed from disbelief to fear of rejection.

Perspective

Perhaps due to the popularity of the tsundere character archetype in anime, Reo is the point-of-view character here. The changing of perspective allows for many facets of Reo’s personality to be explored that were not possible in the Fuguriya-produced works. As more of her personality is allowed to be shown via her internal monologue, a great deal is made toward elaborating on her tsundere tendencies. Specifically, her dere side gets much more screen time in the OVA. This is due to her being in a position of weakness, being sick in her room. It confirms to the viewer that Reo enjoys every second she is put into embarrassing postures, something she does not admit directly in the games. As a point of interest, in Fuguriya’s titles, Sara is the only love interest who is given monologue albeit to a limited degree (Reo-ppoi Radio notwithstanding), but that’s for another article. It should also be noted that the first two drama CDs give Nanami and Kaede respectively an opportunity to articulate their thoughts personally instead of through text. The third CD was in a third-person viewpoint, so Mai was not given this opportunity.

Characterization

The trailer that was released two weeks ahead of the OVA itself raised controversy for the voices displayed. Both characters spoke softer, but Mai changed the most in the OVA, not only in the pitch of her voice, but in her character. In the game, she sees Reo as a cute girl who reacts very erotically to her touches, but she never thinks to have Reo do the same to her until she does so of her own accord. Many of the events in the visual novel show Mai making sexual advances on Reo without any thought for her own self-pleasure. In addition, she only does so when Reo is in a vulnerable state, such as the first time she did so after Reo falls on her bottom after class. This is in contrast to the OVA, in which she makes Reo touch her almost immediately. This version of Mai sees Reo as a lover instead of someone to adore in a very short time, as seen when she reciprocates her confession at the same time. Because no other characters other than Reo and Mai appear in the OVA, this is likely because Yuuna wasn’t present to advise Mai to do so. Mai’s uncertainty following Reo’s confession in the game mirrored her incomplete romantic tendencies. In the OVA, she not only returns Reo’s love immediately, but she asks Reo to have sex with her shortly after instead of forcing it upon her. As a result, this version of Mai is less self-centered, if only because she is able to comprehend her lover’s feelings a lot sooner.

Reo’s character changed as well, but much more subtly. Her aggressive nature has been toned down considerably, as she has relatively little opportunity to lash out at Mai. Her confession to Mai in the flashback does not end with her running away in shame, showing that she’s also less apprehensive. Her tsun side hasn’t changed in this scene, as seen by her bitterness in Mai’s inability to comprehend it right away. It’s followed immediately by their consummation in the infirmary, which Reo doesn’t try to escape from. This version of Reo is instinctively more prepared for what happens next, possibly even less sheltered; notice how Reo accepts Mai’s first kiss readily (8:59 in the OVA).

One of the more subtle changes in Reo’s personality is in the fact that she now possesses a cell phone. The Reo/Mai Diaries center on Mai convincing Reo to purchase a cell phone so they can always stay connected. In the OVA, it’s plainly seen that she already has one. This has a profound implication on Reo’s personality. One of her primary traits is her unwillingness to take part in social interaction. In the Diaries, she explains that she doesn’t need a cell phone since she only talks to Mai, who she spends most of her time with anyway. This implies that she has no other important contacts that warrant owning a phone, not even her mother, who is never seen. Who, then, would Reo have to stay in contact with that warrants her having a phone in the OVA? She had only just confessed to Mai the day before, so it’s unlikely she would have her number. No classmates are seen in the OVA, so it’s unknown if she’s more sociable than she is in the game. One explanation is that she and her mother have a closer relationship, as suggested by the position of her phone on her bed; she likely called her mother shortly before to tell her she’s sick. Her parents may not even be divorced. As noted above, she is possibly less sheltered in this version, so that may be more reason for her to own a phone. The Diaries explain that the prohibition on cell phones was lifted at St. Michael’s out of concern for the student body’s safety. Since the OVA was produced in tandem with the Reo/Mai Diaries, there is reason to believe this is also the case there. None of these questions can be answered definitively, however, due to the absence of any characters other than Mai and Reo.

Image Comparison

Click on any of the below thumbnails for a full-size view.

St. Michael’s

Above are three shots of St. Michael’s School For Girls. On the left is the original appearance as seen in the first six games. Next to it is the newer appearance seen in the games following them and the remake of this one. To the right is a screenshot of the OVA, in which St. Michael’s is decidedly less ornate. Its brown color makes it look more conservative, although it’s an improvement over the original rendering. The significant difference here is that the confession in the OVA took place outside the school gate instead of the rear garden. This was presumably done to allow the cherry blossom motif to be presented prominently in this scene.

The Infirmary

The OVA opens in the infirmary, where, like in the visual novels, the nurse has yet to be seen. The visual novel has this scene take place after Reo takes a hard fall, thus giving them a reason to be there, whereas the OVA sets this scene without that stipulation. It can be argued that the dimmer lighting makes for more romantic ambiance.

Mai’s Room

In the original game, the first time Reo enters Mai’s room is a significant event, as she’s filled with wonder looking into the room of a commoner for the first time. Before that, the first time she enters Mai’s house after school in a fit of insincere rage was a turning point for Mai. That aspect is downplayed in the OVA, where Reo visits her the morning after. It can be presumed here that they already knew they live nearby, and that they’re even  close enough that they don’t have to knock before walking in, if that’s the case at all. She is also noticeably dere during the ending here, so the corresponding event in the visual novel only barely matches this one. In both cases, they were both surprised at the other’s unannounced entrance into their homes.

(Yes, this image comparison doesn’t illustrate any significant visual differences, but I wanted to point out Reo’s presence in Mai’s room without being explicit. Notice again the darker lighting in the third image, which now signifies loneliness instead of impending romance.)

Suki Suki Mai-san…

The drama CD bundled with the OVA does not correspond to any event in the visual novels, but is closer in tone to them. It expands the OVA story to a fourth day and focuses more on their interactions than their love lives.  A translation of the CD can be found here.

In short, the CD concerns the morning after the OVA in Mai’s house. Mai, whose cold has apparently gone down, holds Reo’s clothing hostage until Reo admits that she loves Mai again, just as she did the night before. (The question of how Reo was allowed to stay there overnight in spite of both of their families is not raised.) The incident continues into breakfast, which tsun-mode Reo is forced to eat naked as she struggles to admit her love out loud.  These personalities and the overall comedic tone are much more faithful to the visual novel than the animation that preceded it (it even ends with 「麻衣のバカ~~~~っ!!」), so it’s unfortunate this episode had to be audio-only. If nothing else, it proves that the characters of the OVA have not changed much after all. In fact, they seem to have settled into their roles even faster than they have in the visual novels if it does actually take place immediately after the OVA.

Conclusion

Many of the changes are symptomatic of the very limited duration given for the OVA. Some of these changes create worrying questions for continuity in the likely event a sequel is produced. It’s unknown if the next episode will continue this story or shift to another couple. However, it is a miracle that the OVA was produced in the first place and an even bigger one that it was as successful as it was. None of the issues here are particularly glaring, as the OVA’s objective was to encapsulate the overall feel of the series in a fraction of the time of one of the games, and in that regard it unquestionably succeeded. All of these changes may have been rooted in either necessity or the shorter time allotted, and arguably the expanded characterization is nothing but beneficial for the franchise as a whole. It remains to be seen how other characters will be affected by the shift in medium and production companies, but I personally look forward to the possible alternate interpretations.

14 thoughts on “Comparison of Joined In Love With You and the OVA [Updated 29 Mar 2011]”

  1. Interesting article. I liked the OVA a lot more before I was able to read the story in the game it was based on (thanks again for that btw). That isn’t particularly surprising though. I’ve watched many movies and tv shows that I thought were amazing until I read the books they were based on. The fact is that a spinoff of a story will never be as good as the original straight from the source.

  2. I’m playing the game and so far, I’m enjoying it very much and notice that the biggest differences are between the OVA and VN is that both Mai and Reo are much more accepting and understand each other better than in the VN where it took a while for Mai to fully understand how she feels about Reo. Hmm, I first thought that the Mai/Reo diaries was the buildup event to the OVA but I was wrong. Oh well, I choose to think that it is in order to avoid continuity errors in my head.

    As for the change in their personalities and seiyuus, I don’t care since both sets of seiyuus fit their respective vessels’ personality traits.

    My naughty mode is thankful to the OVA because we get to see Mai get eaten by Reo much quicker than in the VN. Sure it makes sense that it takes much longer for that to happen in the VN but still, my hormones craved to see Mai get eaten since she has the more appealing body after all. Plus it’s not fair that Reo doesn’t get to have fun until much much later in the story, but you already discussed this topic in full detail in your previous post concerning the person wearing the pants in the couple.

    A very well written research analysis mysterious one. I wonder if you’ve ever considered becoming a psychologist? Perhaps you already are one.

  3. As I have now finished the game, I can say that one of the things that were absent in the OVA was the comedic tone of the original visual novel, as you said. I think the OVA wanted to convey something different for a touch of seriousness, rather than a typical love comedy. I don’t know if this was just a result of time constraint, though.

    I still wonder why Mai’s seiyuu was different for the visual novel and the OVA, but I guess it is to create a Mai character that is easier to understand, as well as to fit the overall feel of the OVA, which is supposed to be a yuri story that can appeal to the most people possible, as well as to attract more potential female buyers, I think.

    And as EmperorG says, this is one good analysis of Anata to Koibito Tsunagi. I’m hoping for more from you. ^^

    1. The drama CD makes up for the lacking comedic element as it focuses on that over sexual content. Mai in particular feels much more familiar there.

  4. Wow what a thorough comparison of the two works and in depth character analysis! Great point on the different point of view, and also on the subtle character differences.

    If the OVA is thought of as taking place after all the events in the visual novel, this after story would suggest the different characterizations are simply a further progression of their relationship. That would also account for the difference between a sexually inexperienced Mai and Reo in the game and the experience pair in the OVA, as well as how close they seem to be. The flashback does not indicate how long has passed between the first confession and the present infirmary scene, which could be different from the flashback infirmary scene (Mai’s confession).

    In either case, I guess it all boils down to our interpretations of the OVA as a retelling or as an addendum. One thing’s for sure though. The game and the OVA do approach these characters in different ways, and that has important implications on their personalities.

    “Sara is the only love interest who is given monologue albeit to a limited degree (Reo-ppoi Radio notwithstanding)”
    Oh is that so? I have yet another reason to appreciate Sara Kaede even more. ^ ^

    Anyway, such a lovely read!!

    1. It’s important to keep in mind the goals of the OVA. It’s a hentai first and a story second, so the emphasis is to get Mai and Reo to bed as soon as possible.

      I don’t believe that the OVA continues the story in the visual novel as it goes out of its way to retell the start of their relationship. The characterization was changed to make the expedited sexual events in the infirmary possible. It’s just like any other game-to-anime adaptation in this regard, in that liberties were taken to allow more to happen in a shorter time. The attention span of an anime watcher compared to that of a visual novel player is arguably shorter, so these changes can be seen as necessary to keep the average viewer of the OVA watching.

  5. This post has been updated with visual comparisons. I wanted to include some originally, but I didn’t have time to add them on the original post date as I finished it at 2 A.M. that day. I did feel I had enough material to start a discussion, so I published it anyway with an image disclaimer despite not having any images at the time.

    1. That would have been difficult to animate. Alienating the people who are put off by such things may have went against its overall goals.

  6. Great post. Read every single bit of it. I enjoyed the VN and the OVA very much, and found it to satisfy a niche that I hadn’t even known existed; namely, a explicit yuri relationship that was very detailed, loving, and strong. The lack of many typical hentai cliches in the VN and especially in the OVA made it very unique and pleasing.

    Thanks for the thorough post.

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