The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Ai Yori Aoshi

Title: Ai Yori Aoshi
Genre: Romance/Comedy
Company: J. C. Staff
Format: 24 episodes
Dates: 10 Apr 2002 – 26 Sep 2002

Synopsis: Compelled by a cherished memory of her childhood sweetheart, Sakuraba Aoi devoted herself entirely to becoming a suitable bride for her betrothed. However, when a family quarrel ends in the dissolution of her engagement with Hanabishi Kaoru, Aoi leaves the shelter of the Sakuraba clan in search of her beloved. Upon their reunion she discovers Kaoru to be the sincere gentleman of her dreams, but a troubled past and painful memories prevents Kaoru from returning with her to be wed. Will the fruition of their newfound happiness be hindered? And will the Sakuraba clan accept this man as their inheritor?

The Highlights
Characters: While unique, left undeveloped.
Ending: Abrupt, yet satisfying.
Story: Very romantic; moderately eechi.
Music: Lovely opening; the rest, so-so.

Ai Yori Aoshi is as romantic as shounen gets. You have your classic ingredients for the genre, a male protagonist surrounded by gorgeous women, and of course, gratuitous amounts of fan service as well. Yet, what makes Ai Yori Aoshi unique is that the main character is commendable and sincere, without those negative character flaws that you find in series such as Love Hina or Maison Ikkoku. He also is devout in his feelings, remaining faithful to his fiancée throughout the series. Granted, there are “sticky” situations he finds himself in, but he never allows temptation to hinder him.

I rather enjoyed the two main characters, Aoi and Kaoru. Their story and its intertwining was well presented and played out. As far as romance is concerned, you really couldn’t ask for a more genuine tale. Yet the span between the beginning and end of the series consists of loosely tied subplots and filler episodes. Considering the series length (24 episodes), I felt there should have been more development. You have a strong beginning, a strong ending, yet why waste time watching the series if there’s nothing to keep your attention in between?

Furthermore, the whole Love Hina-esque coincidence of several beautiful woman living under the same roof, fawning after the same man gets a little tiresome. Even so, this would be excusable if these side characters had any substance to them. The producers just seems to drop these characters into play without any background development, and refuses to develop their relationships or characters any further through the entirety of the anime. They serve as a cheap laugh and a channel of fan service but little else.

The music is up in the air as well. While Ishida Yoko did an astounding performance for the opening theme (not to mention being one of my personal favorites), and the ending theme was decent, the rest of the soundtrack is mediocre at best. While animation is never a vital element in assessing an anime for me, I felt the artists did an excellent job. However, the reuse of cels is very noticeable. All in all, Ai Yori Aoshi is a sweet love story, but its negative elements attract a lot of attention away from what had very high potential. Consider watching it if you can borrow it from a friend, but it’s not worth the money for adding it to your collection.

The Rating: 5

Reviewed by: Godai

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