|Last updated January 02, 2005.|
I'm so pissed at Ai Yori Aoshi. That show had so much potential. The basic premise of the show is fairly ridiculous, even for anime, but it could have worked.
Kaoru is an unremarkable college student with an unhappy past that he is trying to forget. He meets and helps Aoi, who's lost in a train station. They get to talking. It turns out Kaoru and this very traditional girl with a cute face and an absolutely killer body (although he doesn't realize this until she gets naked, because her yukata makes it difficult to tell) were arranged to be married when they were children. She's still in love with him and wants to go through with the arranged marriage. Now, normally a guy would run like Hell from this kind of psycho chick, but since Aoi (1) is a great cook, (2) is a more dedicated slave than June Cleaver, (3) is fucking hot, and (4) is a bazillionaire, it's not as if Kaoru is facing disproportionate risk.
With this kind of setup, Ai Yori Aoshi should have been a solid block of romance and sex. I'm talking wire-to-wire romance and wall-to-wall sex. Instead, it stonewalls for pretty much the entire series.
Now, you may wonder how they manage to keep these two from boning all season. The answer? Introduce character after character and keep the focus of the show on everything but the relationship between Kaoru and Aoi. They don't get to screw because they're practically never alone in the show again.
Ai Yori Aoshi quickly turns into a harem comedy, and a bad one at that. And that's the real tragedy. If they had just stuck with the two leads, kept them in Kaoru's small apartment, and simply made it an anime about the demands and serendipity before them it would have been an amazing show. Curiously, this is an approach that no show appears willing to take. Even Kare Kano wouldn't do it.
This appears to be the season of the sequel. We have Full Metal Panic - Fumoffu, Love Eva, R.O.D. the T.V., another season of Pedo Princess Walkure (WHY?), and Ai Yori Aoshi ~ Enishi ~. There's also Gunslinger Girl, which has been facetiously called a second season of Noir.
I've already determined that Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu is outstanding. R.O.D. the T.V. is also quite good. But oddly enough, I am actually looking forward to Ai Yori Aoshi - Enishi, despite being reasonably certain that it will largely consist of the same tiresome crap that I found so frustrating during the first season of Ai Yori Aoshi. For example, thus far, I'm three episodes in and there's not nearly enough NAKED APRON, and far too much Goddamned irritating Chika.
Chika, you may remember, is the tanned kid who was amazingly annoying. Seriously, she's horrible. And this coming from someone who is actually sympathetic towards Mayu, the other character everyone hates.
I rather like Mayu, believe it or not. She's just a poor little rich girl who's too scared to let people know that she's desperately lonely. I'm willing to cut her some slack because of that.
I could do without the extra characters, though, and the stupid-ass ferret. Even Tina, who is in rare form through the first three episodes. (This is a good year in general for Yukino Satsuki, who also voices Nenene from R.O.D. the T.V., and Chidori from Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, in addition to Tina Foster this season, plus a few characters from other shows this year that I haven't seen.) Just as I feared, Enishi is spending way too much time on the secondary leads instead of developing a story about the two primary leads.
One thing I am rather enjoying about Enishi is its portrayal of Kaoru's intense sexual frustration at being around Aoi all the time yet remaining unable to dutifully fuck her lights out, because all those other characters persist in hogging up valuable screentime. You may remember that it was strongly implied that Aoi and Kaoru finally consumated their relationship at the end of the first season. Incidentally, that in itself was far too understated, in my opinion. Based on everything the show had spent the entire series establishing up to that point, I would have wagered good, honest money that the moment Aoi managed to get her thighs around Kaoru, she was going to instantaneously combust and immolate herself with an orgasm of such potency that it was going to disrupt the seasons and fuck with the tides for years.
So with that established, it's nice to see Enishi acknowledge that the romantic leads are not all the way back at square-one, although I do wonder how long the show can survive on Aoi's contrived excuses to get into Kaoru's bed, and Kaoru's on-going halucinatory fantasies about NAKED APRON.
Speaking of Ai Yori Aoshi, I do find it troubling that I've now purchased two Ai Yori Aoshi DVDs—the first one and the last one—telling myself that these two are the good ones, and that I won't buy the ones in the middle because they contain the retarded harem comedy episodes.
I purposely didn't buy the version of the first disc that comes with the box, as lovely as it was, because I knew I'd just end up buying all the discs, and I just can't bring myself to own the entire first season of Ai Yori Aoshi. The show just isn't that good.
This is not to say that it's really awful like, say, Chobits, just that it isn't very good. Hopefully, the show will redeem itself with Enishi.
Incidentally, I must add that Aoi's voice actress is absolutely superb. The renown Kawasumi Ayako, also the voice of Mahoro, really knocks 'em dead as Aoi.
So, somewhat inexplicably, I find myself eagerly awaiting each episode of Ai Yori Aoshi ~ Enishi ~. I really have no idea why I'm captivated by this show. Perhaps I've merely forgotten how unimpressed I was with the first season. This is particularly perplexing because this second season appears to be more of the same.
If I had to wager a guess, I suppose I'm watching it for the romantic angle. Or more accurately, the anticipation of a romantic angle. That is, Ai Yori Aoshi's great failing is also the reason why I'm intrigued: I'm not watching it because it's depicting the romance and relationship of Aoi and Kaoru, but because it is conspicuously missing the romance and relationship of these two.
I suppose it supports the theory that happiness and satisfaction do not make for very compelling entertainment—that there needs to be misery and tragedy to really be interesting.
And Enishi certainly hints at the possibility of misery in its future—the opening credits depict both a crying Aoi and a sobbing, despondent Tina Foster in two independent scenes, as well as an additional shot of a visibly troubled Miyabi. The implication, I think, is that someone is going to get her heart broken.
Now, I think we can rule out Chika for being too young and too worthless. We can rule out Miyabi for being too old. We can probably rule out Taeko for being a character that one simply isn't really supposed to take seriously. And despite being a desperately lonely, although somewhat gratingly acerbic, poor little rich girl, we can probably rule out Mayu—not because she's too young (now that two years have passed), but because she has always been very open about her affection for Kaoru. I think her honesty in this respect eliminates her from the picture entirely, except for perhaps an episode here or there just to establish veins of jealousy in the other characters.
We all know Aoi and Kaoru will end up together at the end. I mean, c'mon. Which leads me to conclude that Tina is fucked. The Enishi Episode 00 prequel, Beautiful Snow, established that Tina has had feelings for Kaoru for several years now, and these feelings may have driven her to leave the country for her trip around the world in the first place. There's no indication that these feelings have waned in the least. So being the odd one out, Tina is fucked.
And there you have it. That's why I'm eagerly anticipating each episode of Ai Yori Aoshi ~ Enishi ~: I'm waiting to see Tina Foster's heart get broken. You should have said something earlier, sweetheart.
It's all deepdiscountdvd.com's fault. Them and their additional 20 percent off coupon.
So I bought a third Ai Yori Aoshi DVD—this time disk three, which contains episodes 11-15.
My rationale is that it contains the Mayu episodes and, contrary to everyone else on the planet, I rather like Mayu. It also contains episode 15, which is the good "back to the apartment" episode with the alternate ED.
But this means I'm only two DVDs away from owning the entire first season. And I have to keep reminding myself that I didn't actually like this show very much. I think I'm just turning into a J.C. Staff and Geneon nee Pioneer whore. I suppose I also feel somewhat compelled to support any company that puts five episodes on each DVD, instead of screwing its customers with that four-per-disk and three-per-disk horseshit. ADV, I'm looking in your direction.
In case you were wondering how they handled the whole Tina and Mayu yelling in English part in the dub, they just changed it so that Tina gets intimidated when she talks to foreigners, and Mayu occasionally speaks in a bad English accent. The dub itself is pretty bad, and suffers from the usual host of problems that plague dubs in general. I'm a bit perplexed as to why Mayu only talks with an English accent some of the time. Why couldn't she speak with an exaggerated Monty Python British accent all the time? That would have at least been funny.