From reviewing the original Saikano series here at UK Anime, we discovered a definite rift between reviewers as to how they rated (or indeed hated) the show. Personally, I was really quite impressed with it and revelled in its gritty, depressing depiction of the results of war, which meant I jumped at the chance to take a look at this latest take on the rather horrific world of Chise.
Rather than taking on an entirely different story or acting as a sequel (and anyone who has seen She: The Ultimate Weapon will know why this would be implausible), Another Love Song instead takes on broadly the same series of events seen in the original series, but viewed from a very different perspective. While the original series focused heavily on the direct relationship between Chise and Shuji, this time that relationship is viewed from afar via the eyes and ears of another prototype 'Ultimate Weapon', Lieutenant Colonel Mizuki. This shift in the storytelling perspective means that Another Love Song focuses far more on the military's version of events, from an extremely vague explanation of why Chise was chosen to become a weapon for the army through to their own concerns as to her 'growth'.
This different angle on events certainly brings a new dimension to the whole affair, and one which Saikano aficionados will doubtless lap up on the whole, but this very change in focus is also Another Love Song's downfall in a sense. The introduction of a second 'Ultimate Weapon' only serves to weaken the uniqueness of Chise's situation, although to be fair it does make for an interesting dynamic between the main character and Mizuki at times. Most importantly of all though, the military's relationship with Chise simply isn't as interesting as those we saw in the original series - A big part of the shows draw (for me at least) was the strained and sometimes morbid relationships between the main characters, all of which is missing here, replaced instead with the usual bog-standard fare of big explosions with little feeling of the human cost of war. From where I'm sitting, I can't help but feel that the creators of this OVA missed a lot of the more salient points of the original series.
My other big gripe is the fact that minor aspects of the plot have been subtly altered to inject Mizuki into the proceedings - On one or two occasions, I all but found myself shouting "That isn't how it happened!" at the screen. Yes, I know, reinventing the plot or ending of an anime is nothing new in itself, and isn't always a bad thing, but the feeling that the writers were trying to slip small alterations under the radar was a little frustrating.
Despite all that, there is a certain kick to be had from the two half-hour episodes on show in this OVA for anyone with an interest in She: The Ultimate Weapon, if only for the fact that it gives a far clearer account of what Chise goes through - If nothing else, it helps to explain all that constant crying! At the end of the day though, I simply can't help but imagine what could have been made of this attempt given a slightly deeper story to work with, and without the constraints of having to squeeze it into the existing tale as much as possible. That certainly isn't to say that Another Long Song is a poor attempt, but rather it's simply too limited in its scope to make for a story even close to as engaging as the show it mirrors.