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Dated 16 April 2008: Ai Yori Aoshi PC needs more trophy-fucking

The Ai Yori Aoshi PC games
I own the Ai Yori Aoshi PC games.

In addition to playing Tsukihime again, I've also been playing the Ai Yori Aoshi PC game. And when I say "game," I'm using the term in its most generous sense, because the entire thing is basically two stand-alone episodes of the anime with very little variation in game play. Even for a visual novel, there are very few choices to make and not a whole lot of variation or different outcomes.

Opposite side of the Ai Yori Aoshi PC games
Oh God, what have I done?

Still, the game is voiced by the original Japanese cast and reasonably-well subtitled. There are occasional errors in the text, but not enough to detract from whatever enjoyment one might get from playing an Ai Yori Aoshi game. However, the characters only speak one at a time, so there's little chemistry among them, if at all. I have to wonder if the seiyuu recorded their lines "American style" with each reading lines alone in a recording booth. I hesitate to call the acting bad, but it certainly sounds artificial; it's far below their work during the anime series.

Aoi, Mayu, and Tina
To Tina's chagrin, Aoi invites Mayu along.

To be honest, I'm rather amazed by the amount of Ai Yori Aoshi merchandise I own. Let's see, full first-print runs of both seasons' R1 DVDs (including their collector's boxes), a second (unopened) copy of the first DVD from the first season (look, don't ask, okay), the God damned PC game (a two-disc set, frequently discounted by Right Stuf), and all 17 volumes of the manga. That's kind of a lot of Ai Yori Aoshi stuff for someone who claims to dislike the majority of its anime episodes.

Tina, Kaoru, and Mayu
To Tina's chagrin, Kaoru pokes Mayu's backside.

However, I do like the manga—particularly the later volumes. Tokyopop did a damn fine job with this title, and it's a good thing because the Ai Yori Aoshi manga turned out to be really good. Okay, not Monster good, and arguably not even Love Hina good, but way better than the anime, which makes it a must-read if you enjoyed the television series at all, or even if you merely wanted to like it—more on that later.