Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ai Yori Aoshi

Full Title: Ai Yori Aoshi
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Harem, Romance, Slice of Life
Episodes: 24
Uploaded By: Penad8
My Age Rating: PG-13 (Mild Language, Adult Situations, Brief Nudity)

Kaoru Hanabishi appears to be an ordinary university student living an average single life. That is until the day he met a random girl at the train station searching for a long lost boy she used to know. Over the course of helping her find the boy, he discovers that he is the boy, and she is an old childhood friend of his by the name of Aoi Sakuraba, furthermore, his arranged fiancee. This revelation brings Kaoru back memories of his terrible childhood, and why he left the Hanabishi clan in the first place. On top of wanting him to return, Aoi reveals to him that she still loves him and has every intention of becoming his wife.

I downloaded this anime on a whim, not reading anything about it ahead of time as I usually do, and for a couple episodes, I was pleasantly surprised. As stupid as this plot line sounds, it works for awhile because the chemistry between the two main characters is genuinely sweet. He is an incredibly nice guy who has a few shortcomings but not anything drastic, and she seems to have some sort of deep rooted affection for him stemming from there childhood together. The dynamic duo, along with both of them dealing with the emotional (and physical) scars of his dark past, set up this series to be a top notch anime, and the first few episodes are some of the best of any romance series I have seen to date.

Then episode 5 rolls around, a
nd the worst thing that could possibly happen to the series happens. It's like BAM harem. What the hell? Suddenly there are barely any romantic moments between the two main characters at all, and when there are, they are ALWAYS interrupted by one idiot or another. I'm sure the directors were trying to make us wish the two could have some time alone, but I'm not sure they wanted to make the interrupters so annoying that I wish each a gruesome death. Unfunny boob-fondling and constant inappropriate jokes aside, the relationship between the two main characters just stagnates. Nothing happens, and it happens at the slowest pace possible. Finally, at the end of the series, there's a little bit more movement, but it feels like it took 20 episodes to accomplish what the first four did in each of their allotted 20 minutes. Even with all the waiting, the series still doesn't end up where I wanted it to... There is a sequel, but I'm not planning on watching it...

Production wise, this romance is better than most. Visually, it's pretty, and the animation is fairly smooth. (The studio took extra care to make the ones with big boobs have very fluid motion...) The opening sequence is... ok... I should have seen it as a forewarning... having all those girls fly by and what not... the ending credits aren't bad either. Generic, but eh... If anything disappoints you, it'll be the voice acting, which can be very flat at times, especially from Aoi. Throughout the series, she goes from sounding unsure (on purpose) to sounding like a mechanical robot trying to sound unsure. All in all, I recommend seeing the first few episodes. They are the reminders of how good this show could have been... Otherwise, steer clear unless you are a fan of five minutes of material for every hour of gratuitous boob jokes...

My Rating: 5.2/10 (Fair)

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