Thursday, 30 August 2007


Nineteen19 (also referred to as Nineteen 19) is an obscure, stylish 45 minute OVA produced in 1990 by the renound animation studio Madhouse. This particular title has been on my radar for quite some time now but it was until I read the review on the Buried Treasure column that I became motivated enough to dedicate precious time and resources into tracking it down. Anyway after months of searching I finally snagged myself a vhs copy of original fansub that was done way back in the early 90's by Nexus Studio.

Nineteen19 is a delightful story about a gentle, intelligent man called Kubota who has yet to lose his virginity at the age of 19 despite plenty of offers from the girls around him. This could infact change though, when he meets the women of his dreams at a nightclub. Her name is Masana who is a beautiful and successful model whose geting plenty of exposure in the city of Tokyo. Kubota is completly stunned by her beauty and as later flashback scenes will show, they actually have quite a history. It's from here in the nightclub that the romance and story begin to blossom.

Nineteen19 is a shounen romance, some might find this an unusual mix since the romance genre is almost always linked with shoujo. However the reason it's shounen is because it's one of the few romances told entirely from the male perspective. We do get a decent insight into characters around him although it's usually from Kubota's angle of understanding. I really like this form of execution since I've always loved shows that delve deep into the minds of the characters especially if it's through the form of self narritive.

This isn't the only unconventional aspect of this show since another key part of it are the music video segments spliced into the key scenes of the show. Each music video focuses on a different aspect of their growing relationship, the animation does a great job of transforming relativelly casual scenes into something artsy, experimental and very different from the norm. The animation style during these moments can shift from anything to the look of a nice sketchy production shot to a detailed labyrinth style chase sequence through the city from the first person view. These unique twists of style will certainly keep the viewers attentive along as they can also appreciate the 80's MTV style music and visuals. Everything from the colourful flashing lights to the accurate company logo branding embarks a certain ambience to it from this decade. I find it novel that copyright infringement wasn't really an issue back then so creators could borrow real company logos to intergrate into the show to add that extra sense of realism, fan should have fun looking out for them all since there are alot. Those that don't appreciate the pop culture aspects and references of this title might struggle to find enjoyment from this title.

As already mentioned above, the animation in this title is really good but I also really must give major credit to Naoyuki Onda for blessing it with his finely crafted character designs which really fit into the show nicely. Some of his other works which adopt a similiar artwork style include the original Sol Bianca and To-y. His designs for Nineteen19 are closely based on the work of Sho Kitagawa who was the original creator of the manga which ran for 12 volume between 1988 to 1990. The same manga artist would later go on to create another shounen romance called Blue Buttefly Fish (B.B. Fish) which was also later adapted into an OVA in 1993 by a different company and group of artists.

Overall if you want a creative romance drama that focuses deeply on it's characters with it's own unique twist of style then Nineteen19 is more than worth watching. Well recieved back in the fansub circle days of vhs, I hope it's rescue from obscurity once again will allow it to meet an equally positive reception.