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Dated 10 May 2008: The End of Ai Yori Aoshi: My Purest Heart for Thee. Be glad it isn't Death(TRUE), Tina

I've confessed on multiple occasions that I really enjoy the Ai Yori Aoshi manga despite having a rather low opinion of its banal, freakishly-nipple-free anime adaptation—Kawasumi Ayako's soothing cooing as Aoi notwithstanding. It's not easy for me to explain exactly why I enjoy the manga so much. I think perhaps part of the reason is that it is so transparent with its ambitions.

Ai Yori Aoshi volumes 17 and 16
Ai Yori Aoshi volumes 17 and 16.

Compare the Ai Yori Aoshi promise with the central promise in Love Hina, a manga that is arguably as much about promises as it is about onsens and accidentlly seeing other people's butts. In Love Hina, the identity of the Promised Girl remains ambiguous for nearly the entire run, and even the terms of the promise itself come into question at times. Ai Yori Aoshi establishes an unambiguous promise in its opening chapters that never faces a serious challenge in the eyes of the reader.

Compare Ai Yori Aoshi with Ah! My Goddess. The committment between Keiichi and Belldandy never faces a credible challenge. The promise inherent in the wish has a large catalog of exceptions and loop-holes, but the underlying bond keeping Keiichi and Belldandy together will go on as long as it has to—this is a manga that never ends. Thankfully, the title focuses more now on the slice-of-life whacky-type adventures mostly driven by its extensive supporting cast, so it's still wildly entertaining. But I digress. Unlike Aa! Megami-sama, Ai Yori Aoshi ENDS.

Peorth tricks Chrono
Why is an Aa! Megami-sama picture in an Ai Yori Aoshi entry?
I'm not sure, but it's probably Peorth's fault.

I am very pleased with how the Ai Yori Aoshi manga wrapped up the story in its final volumes. I did have some reservations at first when New Character appeared out of thin air, but it worked out well. Be content to think of the matter as a catalyst and be glad it wasn't a deus ex machina. (Ultimately, what happens to our main characters doesn't really require New Character's presence at all.)

Speaking of which, what does happen to Aoi and Kaoru? Well, I'm not going to outright spoil the climax or lay out the story, but the events in volume 17 should come as no surprise to anybody who has been paying even bare attention. Fans of the series should find the ending satisfying. A consumate professional, mangaka Fumizuki Kou nails it.

Dated 4 December 2009: Admitting to an anime perversion

Su, Naru, Shinobu, Motoko, and Kitsune in the Love Hina ED
This was considered pretty good quality at the time.

All right, here goes: I never skip the opening and closing credits of any episode of anime I watch. That's right, I watch every single OP and ED of every single episode, even for episodes I've already seen before. The only time I skip an OP or ED is when the encode does not include them (as with many of these old ass Love Hina first-generation digisubs that I am sort of re-watching right now).

Shimizu dancing in the rain
I admit dancing in the rain helped Shimizu win Best Girl of the Year.

Nearly every single time I've made the admission, the response has been incredulous. Yes, I know it's a very simple matter to set up a hotkey that jumps the video ahead 90 seconds (plus, better containers and, you know, actual store-bought discs permit you to chapter skip), but I don't watch every OP and ED because I'm too lazy or ignorant to skip them. I watch them every time because I consider them part of the show.

Keiichi and Belldandy in the first ED of the Aa! Megami-sama animated series
All right, I haven't bought the Ah! My Goddess series DVDs yet, okay?
At least I've purchased The Adventures of Mini-Goddess,
the OVA, the movie, and the manga already.

And since I consider OPs and EDs part of the show, how much I like or dislike an OP or ED affects how much I like the show as a whole. Disliking the Lucky Star OP is one of the reasons I've never finished watching the series. I do find Lucky Star a little boring (and I straight-up dislike Lucky Channel), but I probably would have finished watching it by now if I really liked the OP instead. Likewise, I am grateful the Macademi Wasshoi OP is horrible, because it guaranteed I would find the series not just terrible, but completely unwatchable after the first episode.

I like First Winry better even though she doesn't
have massive hips or manhands.

However, since I consider OPs and EDs "part of the show," does this mean I consider OPs and EDs canon? Well, no, although I suspect there are times we would all like to think of scenes depicted within OPs and EDs as canonical. For example, Shimizu dancing in the rain during Major season four, or the Winry's-daily-life EDs from either of the Fullmetal Alchemist series. These sequences are reasonably plausibly canon—as much so as the Aa! Megami-sama TV "date" ED which we know from the manga is canon.

George and Miyuki in the Kaze no Yojimbo OP
A bodyguard and his poor little rich girl.

What about ones like the Kaze no Yojimbo OP? Depending on your point of view, it might be nice to think those events actually happened, and from a certain perspective I can see how it's at least plausible, but I think it's more likely the scenes are pure misdirection—perhaps to divert some attention from what the show is really about. Not that OPs and EDs can't include misdirection and still be canon. Princess Tutu, I'm looking in your direction....

Ahiru as a duck. Unless you're ADV,
in which case it's Duck as a duck.

So what is worse? That I never skip OPs and EDs or that I care about them? Surely it's not that strange, is it? On days like these, I'm probably lucky I leave comments disabled.