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Friday, September 16, 2011

Jikuu Bouken Nuumamonjaa: The Infamous "Chrono Trigger OVA"

First Xevious, then Salamander... I'm just going to make this September Game-Based Anime Month. But don't go expecting stuff like Battle Arena Toshinden and Tekken, as this is the Land of Obscusion and we'll be looking at some pretty obscure game-based anime! But that doesn't mean that I still can't talk about some infamous titles...

Squaresoft, now known as Square-Enix, has many memorable and loved RPGs under its belt, and one of its most well-beloved games is Chrono Trigger, partially due to the "Dream Team" behind it: Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of Final Fantasy, Yuji Horii, creator of Dragon Quest, and Akira Toriyama, creator of Dragon Ball and the character designer of every single Dragon Quest game. Chrono Trigger came out on March 11, 1995 and became pretty much an instant hit. On July 31, 1996, during the V-Jump Festival, a 16-minute promotional OVA made by Production I.G. called Jikuu Bouken Nuumamonjaa/Time & Space Adventures Nuumamonjaa was shown. It took place in the world of Chrono Trigger and throughout the years took on a slightly misleading nickname, the "Chrono Trigger OVA". Now, yes, it is related to the game but that nickname gives people a completely wrong idea of what this OVA is about.

It is the day before the Millennial Fair, which will celebrate the 1000th anniversary of the Guardia Kingdom's founding. Everything is set up and the villagers go to sleep; that night, though, portals open up which allow monsters to enter the fairground. Instead of causing destruction or anything like that, though, the monsters instead have their own Millennial Fair for the night. One of the stands is operated by two monsters, Nuu and Mamo (Kilwala in the English versions of the game), who together call their group Nuumamonjaa. Unfortunately, their attempt at getting new members is a complete failure so the two check out the rest of the fair, winning a golden shovel in a drinking contest in the process and annoying a half-monster/half-motorcycle creature called Johnny. Later that night the two come across a robot called Gonzalez (Gato in the English versions of the game), and through some craziness the two enter a race with Johnny, riding on the shoulders of Gonzalez.

And, yeah, that's really what the OVA is about. Notice something missing? Like Crono and the gang? That's pretty much why I say that the "Chrono Trigger OVA" nickname the anime has gotten isn't really appropriate, since the most you'll see of the game's main characters are literally two back-of-the-head cameos of Crono and Lucca, the first of which you might miss since they're in the background. Like I mentioned this OVA was for promotional purposes only, and therefore was never given an actual retail release, but it wasn't exactly promoting the game itself. Instead, it was promoting a Nuumamonjaa short manga that ran in V-Jump in 1996 and was released completely in one tankouban in 1998. Go into this expecting to see Crono and the others fighting evil across time and space and you'll be disappointed to no end. Still, after that initial disappointment, is there at the very least an enjoyable anime short left to watch?

Nuumamonjaa itself does have some fun with itself. Pretty much any moment Gonzalez is on screen, screaming out "Ah, Gonzalez! I am strong! Beat me and win silver points!", is enjoyable and even Johnny can be fun to watch. Since that takes up about half of the OVA I can say that, technically, it is enjoyable for the most part. Still, Nuu and Mamo themselves aren't really anything special, and since they are the focus of the OVA it can be a little tiring to see them all the time. This is really something where it's short run time keeps it enjoyable enough, but you do get the feeling that if it was longer it wouldn't be as fun to watch.

Production-wise this anime actually isn't half bad. It's directed by Itsuro Kawasaki (Arc the Lad, Wild Arms, Sengoku BASARA), and thankfully this OVA goes on at a nice pace with no real dull moments. The music is also filled with songs from the original game, which is no surprise as Yasunori Mitsuda himself did the music for this OVA. The voice work is also well done, with well-known seiyuu Mayumi Tanaka and Chafurin doing good jobs with Mamo and Nuu, respectively, Shinichiro Miki doing a fun Johnny, and Fumihiko Tachiki delivering an excellent Gonzalez.

This is V Festa '98 VHS tape, which housed the OVA.

Still, even with this OVA being enjoyable to a point, Jikuu Bouken Nuumamonjaa is really only going to appeal to those who are hardcore fans of Chrono Trigger, and even those people would rather see the adventures of Crono and his friends than see the misadventures of two monsters. As much as Gonzalez is fun to watch in motion that robot really can't help this OVA rise to be better than it could have been in any way. As it is, Nuumamonjaa isn't something to actively search for, but if you have the chance to watch it then I say "Why not?"... It is only 16 minutes long, after all.

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