Shining moments for Mayu, Chika, and friends
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 07/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Face it: the series is Ai Yori Aoshi, not the Aoi Sakuraba Show featuring Kaoru Hanabishi, Taeko & Chika Minazuki, Tina Foster, Mayu Miyuki, and Miyabi Kagurazaki. Meaning that there are a few episodes where Aoi and Kaoru aren't central to the story. In the second disc of Enishi, Mayu and the cute troika of Chika, Natsuki, and Chizuru get their moments.
After getting a fetching new dress from her mother, Mayu, who's had a crush on Kaoru since he comforted her, and who has a habit of grabbing onto him whenever she bumps into him, secures a date with Kaoru. However, Mayu is clueless about what to do on a date, and things don't go as planned. Basically, she decides to do whatever Kaoru enjoys doing, but she's no good at bowling or video games. Kaoru in turn, hasn't changed too much since Season 1. Okay, he's serious about his studies, but he's still wishy-washy, as he could've said "no" to Mayu, and as a result, causes discomfort to his fiancée, Aoi. Still, he didn't want to hurt Mayu's feelings.
Such wishy-washiness is demonstrated during his studies. Kaoru really needs to get his economics report turned in on time or else he'll be helping his professor with his lectures in the summer. However, Mayu, Tina, and Chika have taken turns monopolizing him with either playing games, help with homework, etc. This is the closest the normally reserved Aoi gets in getting mad, as being protective of her fiancée, remonstrates with them.
There's an injoke involving the romantic movie Mayu wants Kaoru to watch with her. It's called Pretty Horse, with the cover design on the DVD, lettering included, taken from Pretty Woman. The Japanese word for horse is "uma," but it's pronounced "ooma" here. Woman, ooma, get it? OK, so is that a slap against Julia Roberts? It's still funny, though.
When Tina gets restless and wants to go somewhere for vacation, the gang go to a spa for a retreat. A traumatic moment occurs when they go in two separate cars, Aoi and Miyabi in the latter's sports car, the rest under the driving of Taeko. It doesn't relax the others any when they learn she's considered a good driver at the game arcades. Whoa boy!
Then it's Chika and her lovable friends Natsuki and Chizuru. They need to get ready for the swim team match, because the frequently absent senior members of the team chose them without previously consulting them, but whoa! What goes glub glub glub? Answer: Chizuru nearly drowning even before five meters! Never fear--coach Tina Foster is there to help the weak link of the trio! And other than coaching, there is the requisite--to Tina anyway--inspection of certain body parts.
However, Tina opens up to her three charges regarding her life. She admires their school uniforms, and that leads to her childhood remembrances. She says that she hardly made any friends in Japanese schools because she was so different, so she went to high school in America, and surprise! She didn't make many friends there either because she was so Japanese inside! Having experienced something similar, of not making many friends because of that innate Japanese-ness about me, that bit about Tina really made me like her even more.
One notable goof. In the beginning of the dating episode, there's a flashback of a young Mayu playing the piano. The strings in the piano are not moving from having the hammer striking them, nor are her hands moving! Later, when Mayu plays for Kaoru, her hands are moving. Note: the piano piece Mayu plays is named "My Favorite Things" and is available on the Ai Yori Aoshi Pine soundtrack.
This disc has stronger episodes, with lovable performances from all involved. Figurines included are Taeko, Mayu, and Uzume the ferret.