As a person who grew up during the 90s it's no surprise that I am very familiar with the mega-hit, money-making franchise known as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Though I have not read any of the original comic series, I was a big fan of the 1987-1996 animated series and the three live-action movies still hold a special place in my heart. The first is still an excellent movie, TMNT II is silly but fun, and I'll get to TMNT III later (I haven't seen the CG movie, but I heard good things). Still, it's not hard to find TMNT productions that are bad... Really bad. Many can argue TMNT III, but there's also the Coming Out of Our Shells music tour, the subway-promoting Operation Blue Line, and I personally couldn't watch anymore of the 4Kids reboot series after a certain revelation about Shredder's past, which is a shame as I really enjoyed it up to that point. TMNT wasn't just a North American hit, though, as it was big in Japan as well. In fact, after Japan finished airing the original TV series in 1996 a two-episode OVA series was released and it has remained exclusive to Japan. Since then it's been put down and considered a hilariously bad extension to the original TMNT series, but is that really the case? I mean, it's hard to top things like Vanilla Ice's "Ninja Rap", Lord Norinaga, and Shredder talking about getting rid of music... Via song.
In episode 1, during an investigation of the ruins of the ancient Neutrino Kingdom, the Ninja Turtles come across the spirit of light, Chrysemue, who gives them mutastones, which allow the Turtles to mutate into powered-up forms called the Super Turtles. Unfortunately, Shredder, Bebop, & Rocksteady come across the Dark Mutastone, which houses the spirit of dark, Darkemue, and allows the three to transform in powered-up forms of their own. Krang wants to awaken Darkemue, who can destroy the Earth, by having the crystal she is in absorb stars in space. Thankfully, if the Super Turtles aren't strong enough, the four can combine together into a single being called Turtle Saint, and hopefully Turtle Saint will be strong enough to save the day. In episode 2 the Turtles, Splinter, and April O'Neal head to Japan after getting a request for help from Kinzo Hattori, a ninja from Splinter's past as Hamato Yoshi. A mysterious mirror Kinzo is guarding is being hunted after by Shredder and the gang for the mutastones it houses, and the Turtles have to protect them from being captured.
If there's any obvious reason why this OVA is made fun of by TMNT fans, it's the first episode. Just the idea of the Turtles powering-up into stronger forms is silly enough, but the idea of them fusing together into Turtle Saint is just even wackier. Granted, it's not a bad episode but the idea behind it is certainly up there with the three things I mentioned earlier. The second episode is something that I could see actually see having been done in the original TV series, since the most that happens in that is the Turtles donning power armor, much like in Saint Seiya. Naturally, this OVA is nothing more than a giant toy advertisement, with the first episode promoting to Supermutants toy line, which was apparently released around the world, and the second episode promoting the Metal Mutation toy line that was exclusive to Japan. With that revelation out of the way, the first episode make more sense... But it's still really silly. When a gigantic Shredder, powered-up by Darkemue, shoots a gigantic energy blast at Splinter, who then deflects it using his bare hands, then you know that this is just silliness at full-power.
Thankfully, this OVA does keep the feel and style of the original TV series. All major characters look just like they did in the original series, with the exception of two: Shredder and April. Shredder simply gets new armor and a mask, and it actually looks pretty good. April, on the other hand, gets a slightly more anime-esque face, though she still keeps the yellow jumpsuit. It's neat to see her with a new look, though it looks a little unsure of itself in episode 1, but in episode 2 her new look improves. Chrysemue and Darkemue look very much like anime fairies, complete with Darkemue getting a little bounce in the end of episode 1, and it's actually a little odd seeing anime-styled characters next to the original TV series' characters. Kinzo looks like a 100% generic ninja, but his extremely haphazard way of talking, complete with random emphasis on words and an ever-changing way to end his sentences, definitely makes him memorable. The armors in episode 2 look neat, but I must admit that the Super Turtles looks pretty generic and Turtle Saint isn't much better.
But even with this new-at-times look, these episodes still feel like the original series. Krang and Shredder's constant bickering has been 100% maintained, Shredder, Bebop, & Rocksteady are just are incompetent as they are in the TV series, and the heroes act just like they always have. Oddly enough, though, the Foot Clan is absent for this OVA, outside of a scene in episode 1 where Krang mentions giving them a vacation followed by a short clip of the Foot having a barbecue on Miami Beach... Which is weird since the 1987 series had the Foot be robots. Also, Shredder's real name here is Oroku Sawaki instead of Oroku Saki, but that might just be something the Japanese always changed. On the other hand, it's actually pretty cool to hear Shredder and Splinter speak full-on Japanese, since they are actually Japanese. I was honestly expecting something that wasn't very accurate to the original series when I decided to finally watch this OVA and I was pleasantly surprised to see something that kept the style intact for the most part.