Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ai Yori Aoshi

I've wanted to see Ai Yori Aoshi since i first started watching anime. the series came out in the early 2000's and the trailer was on basically every anime dvd that came out during that time (2002-03). the series initially looked very emotional and dramatic, helped in no small part by the opening, "Towa no Hana" ("Eternal Flower"), which is both iconic and touching.

The result left me feeling rather odd. While the series starts off serious, holding a good stock of deep feelings, this was quickly nipped in the bud after a couple episodes, with sudden improbable circumstances such as moving into a large mansion free of charge and the main character being surrounded by beautiful women. i chalked this up to it being a "typical 90's type series" and kept with it, enjoying the more dramatic moments. overall, though, i felt the anime copped out a bit when the time came, perhaps to pad out the episode count. obligatory beach episodes, hot spring episodes, and generalized character archetypes (the little sister type, the clumsy one, the boisterous friend) didn't help this much. i felt the characters themselves lacked some depth, instead being turned into cookie-cutter molds of fan-favourite girls so as to appeal to a wider market. despite this, the series was rather pretty, the characters all looking so as well, even having the 90's holdovers in style (large, squareish eyes, small rounded mouths, simple body lines), which i found rather cute. the anime shows its age slightly, but nothing like older series such as Urusei Yatsura.


As i have yet to read the manga, i can't comment on the faithfullness of the adaptation, but have heard that the manga's plot is more serious in nature. this leads me to want to read/collect the series (which is sadly out of print), if only because i feel a sort of nostalgic loyalty to the series (odd, since i had never seen anything but trailers till now), and thus want to see if it was worth it. the anime lacks a lot in plot, to the point where i was angry by the end of the first season for not tying up a single loose end (save for one, which wasn't even fully resolved). i was eager to see the second season, Ai Yori Aoshi ~Enishi~, but this did little to provide for the plot, either. if anything, i felt even less satisfied by the end of the second season than by the first. i'm not even confident the last resolved issue in the story was even in the manga. and though i haven't yet seen the ~Enishi~ OVA, i doubt that provides any story insight, either. (From what i've heard, it's actually a prequel episode.)

Not without its touching moments.
Overall, Ai Yori Aoshi and Ai Yori Aoshi ~Enishi~ were cute and pretty, but did little to satiate my desire for a story. Aoi and Kaoru's relationship doesn't get far due to the harem running interference. Tina is such the stereotypical "American" that she is blonde-haired, blue-eyed, and has a southern accent (in the dub). Taeko happens to be a clumsy meganekko (glasses-girl) with a braid who also happens to be a maid. Mayu showcases the classic rich fangirl. and Aoi personifies the Yamato Nadeshiko. The arcs are never more than 2-3 episodes long, and few and far between, with most episodes being one-offs that could easily be watched out of order. if you really, really liked the manga, or feel like seeing something fluffy and silly, then feel free to watch it. but if you want a rich storyline, you'll be sorely disappointed.

Ai Yori Aoshi is available through KickAssAnime or Anime-Works (or just by googling), and is licensed for sale through Funimation Entertainment.

But mostly fanservice.


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