Hybrid Child was a one-shot romance manga from 2005. It was written by Nakamura Shungiku. That’s right, the same writer as Junjou Romantica, the worst shounen ai romance I’ve ever reviewed. About five years ago, Studio Deen released an OVA based off of it. You might wonder why I’m even giving it a chance, given Nakamura’s other work but let me remind you that even Ikuhara Kunihiko has written bad stories before. And it is Valentine’s week, so let’s keep an open mind and check out some romance. Maybe this one is not rubbish.
The basic premise behind Hybrid Child is that the world has sapient android/ human hybrids that grow based on receiving love from their owners. There are three different stories about it within the four episodes of the OVA. The first deal with a young aristocratic boy who finds a discarded hybrid child, takes it home and then they grow up together and fall for one another. The second deals with a man with a difficult past who finds some comfort in the arms of a hybrid child who looks like an eight year old. Gross. The third explores why the hybrid children were created with the tragic tale of some childhood friends and what happened to them as young adults.
My biggest issues with the series are all with the second story line. The idea of having a jaded, damaged person get revitalised by finding a connection with someone more innocent and naive isn’t a ad one in theory. It’s not particularly new, but it’s not a bad basis for a romance plot. However, the execution comes across as downright paedophilic. It’s not even just that Yuzu looks like a child but he acts like one as well. Which just makes the attraction really creepy. One general issue is that the world building isn’t very good. We know why Kuroda created the hybrid children but we don’t know anything about how they’ve change society. They seem to be basically used as maids or butlers but no one really addresses anything about them. At least it’s better than addressing the questions in an egregiously stupid way, like Detroit: Become Human did but it’s still just nothing.
To its credit, the first romance is pretty decent. It’s not anything special but it’s passable for a short story. The third is a bit meh. It’s one of those “these people are combative because they love each other” romances with a tragic twist. And you pretty much know where it’s going after five minutes, but it’s the only one that gets multiple episodes. Like Studio Deen & Nakamura just thought it needed so much effort for the very predictable plot line.
Again, my big issue is with the characters in the second story and the way one looks and acts like a child while the other looks at him and thinks “yeah, that’s fuckable.” The first story has the strongest characters and dynamic, which isn’t saying much considering the last is mediocre in those regards but is something. I actually kind of like the dynamic in the first one. Kotarou & Hazuki act more like old and dear friends than master and servant. They also show a willingness to sacrifice for one another, which is a nice touch.
The artwork is decent enough. A bit standard, but capably done. The thing that bothers me is still Yuzu being designed to look like a small child while having a romantic interest who looks very much like a grown man.
They got some capable actors like Hirakawa Daisuke, Okamoto Nobuhiko, Ono Yuuki & others. The acting is perfectly solid. It may never be counted as among the best, but it certainly works well enough. Anze Hijiri’s soundtrack is pretty good.
If you want to see some of that shounen ai action, there are some kissing scenes that are heavily implied to lead to sex and the whole thing is about that romance. So, lots of ho-yay to be had.
Areas of Improvement:
- With four episodes to work with, just pick a story. While romance can work episodically, there’s only one story line in this with good potential any way. So, I’d just develop that more.
- Address the obvious questions. If you’re going to have a romance bloom between a man and a man android he literally owns, you kind of need to address that ownership. Maybe have him struggle because he doesn’t want to force anything and knows he’s in a position of extreme power. There’s also the question of just how sapient the androids are and how they’ve impacted things.
- Better Build up. To use the good part of the OVA as an example, Hazuki kind of collapses out of nowhere and Kotarou takes him to a mechanic. A slower build where we as the audience see hints of trouble for a while before the collapse would strengthen the sense of investment quite a bit.
Ultimately, Hybrid Child is, unlike Junjou Romantica, not garbage. The first story is pretty good. The second is just bad. The third is mundane. Combined, I’d say that averages out to a mediocre experience. A mediocre experience that could have been something more if it had stuck to the one good story line. I’ll give it a 5/10.