It's become rare to review something that has virtually fallen off the face of the earth, but this title seems to be a mystery to all but the most knowledgeable fans...I only found it mentioned on an old Web list compiling the basic essentials on various shoujo titles. It's not surprising that it's disappeared, especially considering the general disinterest in the US for shows that have dated character designs or animation. Nevertheless, Antique Heart is a unique one-shot OVA that, though not particularly special, shouldn't be lost in the annals of anime history.
The plot in a nutshell? There's an old decrepit building at the edge of the school grounds that hasn't been used for years, and it falls apart a little bit more each day. The soccer players smack the ball off the crumbling walls, annoyed that it gets in the way of their practice. But the little house holds a secret, as Takahiro and his friends are soon to find out. On an inspection of the ancient place, they wind up making contact with a mysterious entity known as Saki. Her spirit's been entwined with the building for years...can Takahiro save Saki's world from destruction?
I have to admit that this title cannot be given a completely fair review, since the copy I have is in Japanese; though I've studied the language, perhaps I caught a tenth of the actual dialogue. Nevertheless, I didn't find myself bored during Antique Heart at all. It does have a fair share of discussion, and it's certainly not an action flick, but I could still follow the basic plot. It draws certain comparison to the series of Rumic's World anime, such as Fire Tripper, but there's not a whole lot of time to set up the scenario, as the tape's done within a half-hour. There were still some surprises near the end that surprised me, but again, it's proof again that one OVA's just not enough to tell a cohesive story. Had the story been a little more romantic or a bit more dark, it probably would stand out a bit. I do give it marks for not being yet another grotesque horror flick.
The animation, meanwhile, is 12 years old, and as such is not quite what most current anime viewers expect. It's not in the somewhat blander styles in the late 70s and early 80s, and in some ways it reflects the upcoming changes that would distinguish mid and late 90s anime. It was better than I expected, but not a standout. The soundtrack was not distinguished by anything special, but lends an appropriately creepy underpinning to certain sequences. There was nothing offensive except some mild language (which would assume you know a little Japanese anyway).
It's a sad day when a short little anime can't find a home. At the same time, though, there's nothing really outstanding here, and I doubt it will ever find a proper home translated into English. If you've got the time and inclination to attempt to find it, feel free. Ultimately, this one isn't a lost treasure, just a bit of silver in need of polishing.
Antique Heart -- mild language -- B-