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Happy Lesson: Mama Mia! OVA (2001) – DVD Review

Happy Lesson: Mama Mia! OVA


Directed by Yasuhisa Kato
Original Story by Mutsumi Sasaki


  • Character sketches
  • Clean opening & closing animation

Dindrane’s Anime Warnings:

  • Dangerous mermaids
  • Weird science
  • Masochistic PE teachers

Released by: ADV
Region: 1
Rating: 15+ for suggestive themes
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: A must-have for fans of the show

[ad#longpost]Happy Lession OVA contains the three OVAs that were created for Japanese TV in 2001 in order to demonstrate the show’s viability (not unlike American pilot episodes, but with higher production values), which then premiered the next year. Those TV episodes have already been released by ADV.

The first OVA is a revisioning of the show’s first episode that introduces Chitose, his five insane mothers, and the incredible struggle it is being him. A basic introduction to the show and a synopsis of the first section can be found in my previous review of the show. The basic idea is that five of Chitose’s teachers took pity on his orphaned state and decided to move in with him to be his new mommy, each of whom represent the character types you know and love in anime, including the smart, cute girl, the hentai friends who stalk girls with cameras, and of course the harem itself. Each of the mothers has a delightfully different personality, from Ninomai the absent-minded scientist to spunky, cute Hazuki, art teacher and would-be idol. They all compete to take care of him in their own idiosyncratic ways, driving him nuts in the process. The result could be impossibly lame, and while it is formulaic, it still manages to surprise and is extremely funny to boot. The second OAV takes the family on a vacation together at the beach, and the third OAV is another alternate history episode centering on Christmas.

The show is still hysterically self-aware, but there are a few minor changes with the secondary characters, a few of whom are now childhood friends of Chitose instead of sisters. The TV series felt a bit fresher, and these OVAs show how the entire process of making OVAs before the TV series premiered is a sort of proving ground, allowing some trial and error. Things are not done that way much anymore, but it does make one think how American TV shows might have changed if they’d had a chance to perfect themselves a bit between the pilot and the network premiere. Excellent moments include the mermaid costume fiasco, Yayoi coaxing squids to depart this life in peace so she can eat them, and poor Fumitsuki’s unrequited adoration for Chitose. Ninomai is still my favorite character, as well as my favorite voice actor in the English.

Pic from Happy Lesson: Mama Mia! OVA

The audio is nicely done, as is the video, though there are a few instances of minor cross-coloration. In general, the show looks and sounds great in both languages, though the Japanese cast is a little more talented on this one, and the pronunciation of Chitose’s name will drive some people up the wall. It is nice to have both of the usual subtitle options: everything subtitled, or just signs. The former comes in handy when you choose the Japanese audio, and the latter when you choose English or are Japanese lingual. It’s also nice to see the voice actors among the opening credits.

The extras here are a clean opening and closing, DVD credits, and a short-ish slideshow of character sketches that is pretty nice. There are images of all the major characters and setting items, including a cute one of Mutsuki in winter coat, the dream sensor (front and back views), Chitose’s bike, and other elements of the show and character design. There’s also a really nice reversible cover with some quality art.

Pic from Happy Lesson: Mama Mia! OVA

If you are a fan of the TV show version of Happy Lesson, then you will surely want to have this OVA set, as well. They preserve most of what you love about the show and give you a little bit more to love with the two new stories. Poor Chitose never catches much of a break, but the mothers are all just too cute and fun to blame, especially since they all really do love Chitose and want the best for him.

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