Happy Lesson OVA: Mama Mia!
This DVD is listed as the final disc in the Happy Lesson series, yet in many ways Happy Lesson OVA: Mama Mia! should be considered as an alternative back-story to the tv series. Consisting of three episodes, the first is an alternative episode one, the second a summer seaside vacation, and the last a winter holiday episode directly linked to the alternative storyline of the second OVA episode. This DVD was fairly standard; extras included clean opening and ending animation, character sketches presented in the slideshow format that I dislike (I like pushing the arrow buttons), DVD credits, and ADV previews. I have been pleased that ADV has taken the path of advertising upcoming and current company releases, as opposed to advertising genre-specific titles, regardless of being recent or years old. For many fans, these previews are a primary source of information of what is out there right now or will be soon available domestically. Don't get me wrong; there are many golden oldies that deserve wide advertisement, but unless you faithfully follow anime news online, you might miss a lot of the newer titles.
I found the opening and ending songs to be rather boring. C' and "Place", then again, are hardly inspiring song titles. The opening and ending animation was hardly eye-catching either. The opening consisted of some new animation, but mostly clips from the tv series spliced together at a maddening pace. The ending seemed to be images from a Happy Lesson artbook, slowly panned across the screen. The subtitles were solid, but glaring spelling errors and typos slipped in occasionally. (Well, they were pretty obvious to a critical eye like mine.) The dub was faithful to the subtitles, perhaps too faithful. While the text flows well with the Japanese voice acting, the same text spoken aloud has awkward phrasing and abrupt pauses to match the animation. It made for rather painful viewing after watching these episodes subbed in the exact same dialogue.
Happy Lesson is all about an orphan boy named Chitose living on his own at his deceased parents' house. He isn't really living alone; five of his teachers have moved in and become his Mamas! Class president Fumitsuki has a crush on Chitose, and she tries to discover his secret while learning about the Chitose behind the indifferent loner mask he wears. Besides his adopted Mamas, Chitose has a younger and older sister: young and cute Minazuki and idol singer, Hazuki. The series is pretty much your average harem comedy, with humor and sentimental emotion resulting from the adventures of Chitose and his Mamas exploring what it means to be family. The OVAs, however, are in a slightly alternative universe, perhaps more from a different point of view (episode one) and earlier point of time (episodes two and three).
The first OVA is merely the first episode of Happy Lesson with some old animation removed and new animation added. We get to learn more about B and C, Chitose's perverted and videotaping classmates, who introduce us into this mad, mad world. The second OVA, however, takes a twist to the original tale. Chitose sees Hazuki on tv without recognizing her, but later on the two cross paths and she immediately hugs her childhood friend and fellow orphan. (Minazuki is shown in flashbacks and briefly spoken about, but not introduced in this OVA. It is made clear that they have both not seen her for some time.) This Hazuki is much more serious than the series' eternally hungry character. It seemed odd for me to see her so focused on helping Minazuki and on her career, yet I suppose this would match Hazuki pre-tv show. The final OVA centers around Minazuki, who enters as an uninvited (though not unwelcome) house guest over the winter/New Year holiday. Instead of being Chitose's cute little sister, Minazuki is a childhood friend, engaged to Chitose (and Fumitsuki's rival). Apparently she believed that if she didn't cry, she would be Chitose's bride, her childhood dream. In the end, they agree to remain as older brother/younger sister, and Minazuki moves in with Hazuki (thus setting up the living situation of the tv series), but she still remains as a quasi potential love interest, something that was definitely not in the series. The message at the end remains the same though: happiness is found in family.
I thought that this was a solid DVD, though low on extra content. If you're a fan of Happy Lesson you probably already own this. If not, it makes a nice addition to the three-disc tv series, but like most OVAs, it's not necessary for enjoying the original series. You won't learn much from this DVD, but sometimes it's good to pause for review and revision of lessons in happiness.