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Video Girl Ai
Video Girl Ai
Actors: Yuri Amano, Jennifer Copping, Ron Halder, Megumi Hayashibara, Janyse Jaud
Director: Mizuho Nishikubo
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Anime & Manga, Animation
UR     2001     3hr 0min

Wandering the streets after having his heart thoroughly broken, Yota Moteuchi stumbles across a video shop he'd never noticed before: Gokuraku, as in "paradise." Nervous he'll be spotted checking out the "adult section, ...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Yuri Amano, Jennifer Copping, Ron Halder, Megumi Hayashibara, Janyse Jaud
Director: Mizuho Nishikubo
Creators: Hiroshi Watanabe, Masakazu Katsura
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Anime & Manga, Animation
Sub-Genres: Animation, Love & Romance, Animation, Anime & Manga, Animation
Studio: Viz Video
Format: DVD - Color - Animated
DVD Release Date: 12/04/2001
Original Release Date: 01/01/2001
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2001
Release Year: 2001
Run Time: 3hr 0min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English, Japanese

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Movie Reviews

Fun romantic comedy
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 10/31/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Video Girl Ai (Ai meaning "love" in Japanese, not Artificial Intelligence.) is a really pleasant series. The characters are cute and likeable, and the story is fun with enough depth to maintain interest, but not too serious. It is lighthearted romance done very well. The animation is very striking, and the character designs are what really set this series apart. The series is on the same high-quality level as "Oh My Goddess." This DVD is a really nice value, with the entire series on one disk. Recommended."
''Ai'' Love You!
Ace-of-Stars | Honolulu, Hawaii | 05/02/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"*
Can a "cartoon" be so sweet and so touching that it can actually make a grown man cry? It would seem that certain ones do indeed have that power. Two special cases of note are the Warner Bros. feature-length film, "The Iron Giant" ... and the 'nippon no anime' feature film, "Urusei Yatsura: Final Chapter" (not yet marketed in the United States) which never fails to have me shedding tears by the teacup-full whenever watching it through. Now add on to that list a third title: the Japanese OAV, "Video Girl Ai"! In typical Japanese anime fashion, "Den'ei Syoujyo: Video Girl Ai" establishes itself with the well-utilized "love triangle" concept -- but rather than following the same tired 'formula' to the letter, the storytellers break with the typical anime tradition and throw us some fresh, fast and unexpected curve balls. The story bases itself around the painful double heartbreak of two of its main characters. School pals "Youta" and "Moemi" had decided to confide in each other as to the identity of their 'secret love.' Youta is terribly afraid to admit to Moemi that it is indeed she whom he holds this secret crush upon, and is further disappointed when she admits that her secret love is for the very popular "Takashi," who just so happens to be Youta's best friend. But Moemi's heart is also shattered when, upon admitting her feelings for Takashi within earshot, Takashi responds negatively to her revelation. Logic would state that Youta would follow this lead of Takashi's by pursuing Moemi more deliberately (especially in light of the fact that Takashi already knows that Youta has feelings for Moemi and, by his rejection of her, tries to give Youta that needed push in her direction). But Youta, being his own worst enemy in such instances, has two things working against him: He is terribly shy, and he is entirely selfless! Even in the aftermath of Takashi's rejection of Moemi, Youta's feelings for her are such that he even does what he can to try to bring Takashi and Moemi together for the sake of her happiness, though it kills him inside (Youta reasons that it is much less devastating that her feelings are for his friend Takashi than for any other person). Heartbroken, nonetheless, Youta comes across a video store he had never noticed in the area before and decides to rent a video supposedly designed with lonely hearts in mind. He chooses one featuring a strangely costumed girl named "Amano Ai." When he plays her tape she literally comes through his television screen -- Her mission: To help those with issues of unrequited love overcome the issues holding them back (in Youta's case, his extreme shyness and uncertainty) and to offer assistance that might help bring the two together. At least that's what would have happened under normal circumstances. In this instance, Youta plays the tape on a damaged VCR, which causes some serious complications for Ai when she attempts to cross over from her video world into our world. The tape player condition which interferes with Ai's materialization also disrupts her hardwired programming in such a way that she progressively behaves less like a "video girl" and more & more like a real girl. For instance, rather than functioning as a conduit for bringing Youta and Moemi together as required, Ai instead becomes jealous of Moemi and actually makes efforts to keep the two of them apart, while her own feelings for Youta gradually begin to develop into her namesake..."ai" ("love") -- feelings and emotions unequivocally forbidden to be experienced or expressed by video girls. Thus being judged "defective," Ai is to be "recalled" by those who created her-- even well before her 'month-long rental' period has expired --which culminates into the emotionally charged tragic climax which unlocks the floodgates of every functioning tear duct. Though the ending is a bit ambiguous and more-or-less left open to various interpretations, it raises any number of intriguing questions, such as, 'When is Love real?' and 'At what point do you pull yourself away and move on?' As in most cases with anime, the dubbed "English" version changes the dialogue in several key areas of conversation where the meanings and motivations of the characters are completely altered and do not convey the original thoughts and feelings reflected in the original Japanese language version, but I would still recommend watching both versions just to experience two slightly different interpretations of the same story ... both emotionally powerful and effective. * * *"
A tender story.
Ace-of-Stars | 11/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Video Girl Ai is a manga series, created by Masakazu Katsura in 1993 dealing about a "Video Girl" named Amano Ai. From the 13-volumes long manga in 1992 was produced a 6 OAV anime serie. It covers only the first part of the manga story, reproducing rather accurately both its character designs and its situations.
The story follows Youta, a kind-hearted boy who is scared by girls. Even more he's in love with his best friend, Moemi Hayakawa. One lonely night, Youta rents a video tape from a strange video shop. But as it starts to play, a pretty girl named Ai jumps out of the TV, disposed to solve Youta's problem with girl... The adventure begins..."
For heartbroken eyes only
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 03/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Why do you look so sad? I see, unrequited love. Don't let it get you down. She just doesn't understand. You've got a lot to offer. I know I'm not much, but I'll do my best to cheer you up. I see, it's that bad. You really need me, right from the heart. That's it! I'll stay with you for as long as it takes."

So saying, video girl Ai Amano crawls out of Yota Moteuchi's TV set, becoming a virtual girl to a real living girl. Moteuchi is thought of as a loser at high school, so he is called Motenashi (or unpopular). The only two people he hangs out with are his friend Takashi Niimai, the way too cool guy who has the opposite problem of Yota, and the cute Moemi. Yota has a crush on Moemi, but she has one on Takashi. Yota kicks himself when he accidentally lets slip out Moemi's feelings about Takashi in front of the latter. When Takashi says "Sorry, you're not my type," it's a shot in the heart to both Moemi AND Yota.

Moemi is a pretty nice girl, and she braves the episode through, although still nursing a crush for Takashi. But while Takashi won't do a thing to return her feelings, to the point of being cruelly insensitive, so too is Moemi clueless to how Yota feels about her.

The short-haired, tomboyish, and huskily voiced Ai herself is quite a character. However, she has only one month of playback time, and that means Yota can't use his VCR, but at least he won't get bored. Ai's mission is to get Yota and Moemi together. "She doesn't hate you, so you've still got a chance," she tells him. She also lists his good points, such as his constant worrying about others and how despite her making him a yucky meal, he appreciates the effort she put into it and eats it anyway.

The trouble begins when Yota buys Ai a dress as a present for her cheering him on. A touched Ai says that video girls aren't able to fall in love. Yet a tear runs down her cheek as she thinks, "But...what is this pain in my heart?" Result: she herself begins falling for Yota, which is conduct unbecoming a video girl. After all, it goes against her purpose.

The scene of a fisherman catching a boot and saying that one never knows what one will catch is also thematic to finding that certain someone. Yota originally wants to be with Moemi, but his time with Ai causes him to think otherwise. And a scene of Yota trying to rescue Ai while climbing up a glass staircase that breaks under his feet, causing him to turn into a bloody mess, is an allegorical symbol of the pain of love: "What is the purpose of climbing that fragile, uncertain stair? ... The staircase itself may vanish. Can your love is more than mere illusion?" And Moemi later wonders "Is love something you can be sure of? It's not. Everything changes with time. You can look everywhere for endless love and never find it." In other words, love is fragile, painful, and most important, ephemeral.

The bonus vignettes between each episode are also funny, particularly a satirical take on Godzilla, via Lovedraconius Aizaurus, and a commentary on why anime is always in standard Tokyo Japanese, leading to a rehash of scenes from Episodes 1 and 2 spoken in the Hakata and Osakan dialect, which got a laugh out of me. And there's a different screentone quality in the drawing, which matches the original manga-none of the standard large eyes prevalent in today's anime.

Based on Masakazu Katsura's 15-volume manga, Video Girl Ai is classic pre-digital anime-1992-and also one of Megumi Hayashibara's early roles as Ai. It also benefits from the melancholy closing theme, "Ano Hi Ni"-or "On That Day," which sets the tone for what Yota and Moemi are going through. For those who have or still have scars of unrequited love, or of the pure of heart, this 6-part series is for you. A landmark in the history of anime and not to be missed."