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Ai Yori Aoshi Vol 1

(return to disc)

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 amusing? Sigh.

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 simplicity.

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", which Miyabi-san 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

Content: 8 Video: 7 Sound: 7 Packaging: 10 Menu: 8

Buy this disc from AnimeNation
Other reviews of this disc:
Ai Yori Aoshi Vol 1 by Kayos (Rating: 7.20)
Ai Yori Aoshi, now available at a store near you. Warning: contains 40% more blushes per episode than other anime, may cause warm fuzziness. Consult your significant other before watching.

The main characters here are Ai and...(continues)

Content: 8 Video: 7 Sound: 6 Packaging: 8 Menu: 7

Ai Yori Aoshi Vol 1 by jonahlee (Rating: 8.20)

I just started watching the first DVD of AI YORI AOSHI, at first it seems like it will be like other romantic anime with the dorky guy and the amazing girl who somehow ends up moving in with him, but so far this one seems different.

Content: 9 Video: 8 Sound: 7 Packaging: 9 Menu: 8

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