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Content rating: 8
Posted 2003-12-04 by StupendousMan
Endorsed by kurt on 2003-12-21 21:45:00
I still drink Kool-Aid, though it's been a long time since my mother
made it for me. After I've purchased a cup of java at
the local coffee house ,
I mix in at least two tablespoons of sugar. When I feel myself coming
down with a cold, I blend together one can of orange juice concentrate, one cup of milk, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. I guess you could say that I have a bit of a sweet tooth ... and that means that Ai Yori Aoshi is right up my alley.
The story is at heart a simple boy-meets-girl romance, in which our hero and heroine overcome obstacle after obstacle thrown into their
path. It's a bit like that old Donny and Marie Show: she's a little bit
country (well, traditional aristocratic Japanese country), he's a little
bit rock and roll (well, he goes to school in the city and wears ordinary Western clothing), but they are both overwhelmingly wholesome.
Fortunately, unlike the Osmonds, their smiles aren't pasted on and
directed at the audience; they have eyes only for each other. Awww.
Like I said, it's sweet, sweet, sweet.
Even viewers who don't share my taste for the saccharine will find
something to enjoy: the maturity our two leads (and some of their
relations) bring to bear on the challenges they face. While they are
still in some ways innocent, Kaoru (they guy) and Aoi (the girl) are
well aware -- Kaoru especially -- of the consequences which follow
their actions. Unlike some anime, the characters in Ai Yori Aoshi
have no magic to save
them in times of crisis, only their hearts and minds.
The show does disappoint me in some ways, however,
most notably by its inclusion of one character who is just too
far over the top. Tina is an American girl who grew up in Japan
and has known Kaoru for several years of photography club in
high school. She's loud, brash, and drinks a lot; okay, fine,
some people are really like that. But she also has a few "quirks",
such as greeting young women by fondling their breasts (thankfully,
we never see her introduced to a grandmother). I can't figure it out.
Did the writers really think it was necessary to appeal to the
small segment of the audience who finds this sort of behavior
And I must admit that, by the end of the first six episodes,
Kaoru finds himself living in the same house (okay, compound)
with four beautiful young women. YAHS, you might think.
But Ai Yori Aoshi somehow manages to escape from
being Yet Another Harem Show. Like water flowing under
the ice of a frozen river, love -- deep, true, slow, persistent,
irresistible love -- flows beneath the surface of farce and pratfall.
In the second episode, Aoi makes dinner for Kaoru. We see her
shop, chop, and cook, then put the meal on the table and wait
for Kaoru's return. Nothing fancy, no four-star recipes or fancy
French sauces, just a home-cooked dinner that says, "I love you."
Like the meal Chi prepares for Hideki in episode 16 of
Chobits, this small action is all the more powerful in its very
Another excellent moment appears in episode 4,
when Aoi's mother learns that her daughter is staying
with Kaoru, and comes to take her back home.
In response to her mother's assertive claim that Aoi
will come home, this instant, Aoi looks her in
the eye and THANKS her. Yes, thanks her for caring and
worrying so much. Her mother is surprised, almost shocked,
as Aoi goes on to explain that she appreciates everything
her mother has done for her, how grateful she is for being
given such a wonderful childhood .... and how that has
prepared her to make her own informed, carefully considered
choices in life. Her mother's response, and Aoi's counter-response,
are perfect. I hope that when I have kids of my own, I'll share
such a relationship with them.
And when supporting characters get to have lines like
"There is no beauty surpassing that of locomotive trains.
Manly, proud, brave, and sometimes kind,"
it just puts icing on the cake. Sweet, sweet, icing.
Disc 1 contains five episodes, a very good value. One of the
extras is a video of Yoko Ishida singing the opening theme.
It's a terrific song, but a pretty goofy video. Still, I appreciate
having the chance to chuckle at it. My case includes a reversible
cover, a postcard, a birthday card, and a small folding insert
with a nice picture and an explanation of the major Japanese
name suffixes (though they don't include -dono "master, sir",
uses frequently in addressing Kaoru). Wow! Now THAT'S what
I call packaging.
Equipment used when writing this review:
Sony DVD player, JVC 27-inch TV, stereo speakers
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