This odd mixture of syrupy romance and jiggle humor plays like a cross between Love, Hina and Oh My Goddess. Kaoru is a lonely college student in Tokyo; one day, Aoi appears and announces her intention to become his wif... more »e. She's the heiress to the Sakuraba conglomerate; Kaoru was the adopted son of the wealthy Hanabishi clan and was betrothed to her--until he renounced his abusive family. Aoi's stubbornness wins over her mother and Miyabi, the woman who's cared for her. Aoi, Miyabi, and Kaoru set up housekeeping in an old Sakuraba family mansion, posing as landlady, manager, and tenant--to avoid a scandal. Then Kaoru's vulgar American friend Tina decides to move in, complicating arrangements. Kaoru is a typically gentle, well-intentioned nerd; Aoi, a sweet doormat who lives to cook and clean for him, despite her wealth. (Rated 13 and older: nudity, risqué humor, alcohol use, comic violence) --Charles Solomon« less
"I got this DVD because I heard many people compare this series to Love Hina. But it is not. It seems to have a very serious story line within it. Aoi Sakuraba wants to marry her first love, Kaoru Hanabishi, who can't marry her WITHOUT going back to to the Hanabishi Clan - which he feels he can't do.
Many times I felt very sad for the main characters and even a tad lonely, missing my own first love. They really have touching scenes, very innocent and romantic, with scenes of silly humor and lots of fanservice. The serious story line justs gives these other scenes more impact.
I'm not going to call it the anime verison of Shakespeare but it stands alone and should not be compared to Love Hina or other such stories. It has its own power and its own message. I can tell you that, because the first DVD has 5 episodes, so you get a lot of the story.
Extras include a art gallery, trailer, reversible cover(which is starting to become a standard extra now), and even a music video."
A romantic comedy that's both funny and pleasant
Steven Myers | SF Bay Area | 02/25/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ai Yori Aoshi needs a warning to open: if you find the idea of a woman wanting to be a traditional housewife to be somehow repulsive, you'll hate this show. This is all Aoi wants to be: the wife of Kaoru, to whom she was arranged to be married as a child. Kaoru left his family (for reasons made clear), but Aoi still loved him. Therein is the heart and warmth of this show: there is no doubt that Aoi and Kaoru will be together throughout once they meet again.Only in the last episode on this disc (which has 5 episodes) does Ai Yori Aoshi reveal itself to be a "harem" show--Kaoru starts finding a lot of girls around him and ultimately, living in the same house. In its dynamics, though, Ai Yori Aoshi differs from many of the other harem shows that have been imported from Japan recently--in Love Hina, for example, one thing or another keeps interrupting Naru and Keitaro's romance. Here, that's not the issue.The humor in this show depends on Aoi and Kaoru learning about each other. Because there's no real conflict between the two, Ai Yori Aoshi may not be quite as funny as a Love Hina or a few others, but it manages to hold its own in the laughs department. More importantly, it is simply pleasant to watch. Aoi, who in a lesser show might have come off as spineless, drives the story with her efforts to make her dream come true. Barring an ideological problem with her domesticity, Aoi is more than reason enough to want to see more of this show. It is when she is not on-screen (particularly when the decidedly unpleasant Tina is), that the show suffers. Fortunately, Aoi is (and hopefully will remain throughout) the focus. One warning to close: there's a fair bit of fanservice here, and this release is based off the Japanese home video release, which added some nudity. It's all featureless (nothing's drawn in) and brief, but it's there, for those who want to avoid such things."
Of Fate, Love & Tradition
Brent Figiel | Pittsburgh, PA | 03/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've read numerous average-to-good reviews of this series, but I took a chance buying it and was pleasantly surprised by what I found. A cliche "harem" series with surprising depth, subtlety and romance to go with the fan service and raunchy comedy.Comparing "A.Y.A." to other "harem" series like "Love Hina" or "Tenchi" seems fair enough, but the writers are smart enough to play around with the conventions. Instead of using stock characters in lieu of real character development, they subvert the cliches by giving depth to the concept of the hapless, well-meaning hero, etc. It also manages a coup because they cast the traditional girl as the rebel... something vastly different than the violent, post-feminist anime heroine you find in most animes Pretty ingenious, actually.Summarized plot: Kaoru and Aoi were both children of privilege promised to wed. Kaoru was physically and emotionally abused by his family, so he left to live on his own. Aoi, who has never forgotten her childhood crush, searches Kaoru out and meets him, accidentally, in a train station. While they obviously care about each other, marrying Aoi means returning to his family so Aoi's family hides them in a big mansion that quickly becomes populated by lots of hot chicks who all fall for Kaoru. Comedy ensues.Kaoru is a college junior, not an awkward High School student and conducts himself with much more maturity than your typical anime hero. He's apparently shy, a loner and a bit of a geek (for reasons in his past that are explained logically), but when the pressure is on, he's reliable. He's also sweet and well-meaning, something that also seems logical given his rough past. Most anime heroes have trouble admitting their feelings openly and the beginning of the courtship takes the entire series to develop, but Kaoru and Aoi click quickly and by episode three they're both obviously in love, if a bit naive as to what comes next.The heroine, Aoi, only appears to be a wallflower and the traditional stereotype of the Japanese woman. Rather than being spineless and servile, we can actually see her strength as she leaves everything she knows and sacrifices her place in her family just to cling to a dream. The charm of her character isn't her desire to please her man, it's the strength and focus she shows in chasing her dream of being the best wife possible. Having seen as much anime as I have, it's a surprise to see so much thought put into a light romantic comedy/drama that could have easily skated by on the stock characterizations.As a viewer, I liked feeling like my intelligence wasn't being insulted. There are subtle moments of character building that they don't come right out and say, which I really appreciated. If this was an American movie, they would have beat us over the head with those moments. Moments like the first episode when Aoi lets one hands rest on Kaoru's shoulder... then the other, a sign of real trust to someone she knows only as a stranger at the time. Or seeing Aoi notice that the bawdy American Tina Foster shows affection to Kaoru the same way she shows affection to a cat... and, thus, doesn't get jealous of her clinging to Kaoru. I really appreciated not having that hammered into my head.The downsides are relatively minor if you can get past the deceptively cliche nature of the show. The character of Aoi can (and apparently does) turn people off, but I looked at it more as a departure from convention than a glorified Japanese male fantasy, though both arguments have merit. After watching a series like "Love Hina" where the hapless male lead gets physically and emotionally pummeled for 20+ episodes with little or no payoff, "A.Y.A." can be a breath of fresh air so long as you don't take it seriously. (Frankly, "Love Hina's" Naru is as much a male fantasy as Aoi, just to the opposite extreme.) Additionally, the dialogue can get a little TOO frothy and the fan service feels tacked on... an attempt to please both sides of the gender divide. Even if the next couple volumes rely mostly on bawdy humor and "Tenchi"-ish misadventures, I still plan on sticking with it. To me, I like all of the characters enough that it'll be like visiting old friends, not watching some rote re-telling of the same ol' story. I've already watched this volume dubbed and subbed and I'll probably revisit it again in the near future.Highly recommended for anime/Japan culture aficionados, but neophytes should probably start their collection elsewhere."
Not your average cutesy romance drama
Fisket | West Sussex, UK | 05/02/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Okay, so this is another series where there are lots of cute girls surrounding a central 'doesn't quite know how to deal with girls' guy figure. Yes, that's a well-canvassed storyline. But don't let that basis for Ai Yori Aoshi fool you into thinking it's a same-old same-old. Far from it. Kaoru, our leading guy, has more depth than you may at first give him credit for. This becomes more apparent as the series progresses, and it's well worth looking out for. As for Aoi- she's quite unlike any anime heroine I've come across before. She has a strong but lighthearted devotion to Kaoru, and her mission in life is pretty much just to make him happy, thus securing her own happiness. Again, don't let that fool you. Her character has a sensitivity and maturity that the typical busty, stick-thin and crazily energetic anime girl lacks. I found myself growing increasingly attatched to her as a character as the series progressed. The humour is pretty comparable with the usual anime fare- a mix of slapstick and risque situations provide the laughs, and do surprisingly well at it, in fact. Voice acting is good, my only real complaint being that Kaoru and Aoi say each others names a little too often. I think the cuteness of it lets them off the hook most of the time though. Lighthearted and easy-going? Yes. Amusing and entertaining? Indeed so. Addictive? I found it very addictive myself. I guess it depends on whether romantic cliff-hangers get you intrigued or not. They work on me! And the animation is not to be laughed at: it's quite simply beautiful, flawless and fluid and full of gorgeous colours. A nice feature for any anime. All in all, a charming and adorable series with good character development, a welcome splash of depth, and a knack for knocking you out of complacency every now and then with a surprising reality-check. If you enjoy romantic dramas, and fancy something a little bit different from the norm, I advise you to give this one a go. You'd be hard pressed to do much better, and you could do a lot worse. Oh, and (importantly, I think) the ending is satisfying and cute. ^_^"
Highest recommendation - very well done series!
J. Whaley | Fond Du Lac, WI USA | 06/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Right off the bat, I want to say that there is blatant trickery involved here. Many people bought this series expecting a certain type of show, only to find out that it wasn't like that at all. I was one of those people. And I couldn't be happier. The blessing and the curse of Ai Yori Aoshi is another series called "Love Hina". Many people buy AYA because of `also recommended' links when they buy LH. The problem is that the synopsis is identical, but the two series are VERY different. Common storyline: When they were children, (male and female lead characters) promised to get together as adults and spend their lives together. They are separated for years, and meet again as college age adults who barely recognize each other. But due to strange circumstances, they end up in a huge house with four other women who also have an interest in (male character). Can (male character) resist all the distractions and get together with (childhood sweetheart) in the end? I imagine two copies of this synopsis being printed and one handed to a group of writers from Baywatch and one handed to the makers of a BBC period costume drama. Then after the scripts were written, a page or two got swapped out of each finished script. At first horrified, each group read the mixed up script and decided they liked it better that way, so they left the mismatched stuff in. So, Love Hina becomes a slapstick jigglefest with a wee bit of a love story. And Ai Yori Aoshi becomes a powerful, deeply moving romance. (...) And one last comparison and I'll let LH rest (because that's a review on its own)... in LH they make no great effort at backstory - we're barely into the first episode when they start introducing the `other' female characters - but in AYA, they spend the first 4 episodes purely on developing the romantic relationship and (very important to the plot) history of the two lead characters. As a result, in LH, I found that I considered at least two of the other females to be a better match for the guy (in fact, found myself hoping that he would trade up in the sequel. [Shrug] no such luck...). But in AYA, there was never any doubt that there was only one romance, despite whatever else was going on. AYA is visually stunning - they often go the extra mile in making lush, scenic backgrounds and highly detailed artwork. The background music is consistently on cue with the action, actually enhancing rather than distracting from the story. As a certified large hairy guy, I am not often found having a strong emotional reaction to a movie, but at least twice watching this I had tears in my eyes. (...) As a final note, I have to point out that throughout the show, the directors most often went for simple and subtle rather than flashing-neon-sign-hey-lookee-here mode, and that was greatly to their benefit. I will remember the moment in the train station where Aoi first shyly rests one hand, then the other, on Karou's shoulder while he is fixing her sandal long, long after the clichéd lovers-gazing-into-each-other's-eyes-at-sunset thrust upon us by so many other movies. Pros:
Breaks most of the stereotypes of the genre and actually has a REAL romance - and doesn't insult the intelligence of the viewer while doing it. Amazingly, the other females in the story actually have well-explained reasons for falling for Karou, and instead of cluttering up the story, actually enhances the character development. Cons:
Well, folks, it's an anime. (...) On the other hand, every adult female (Other than Aoi's mother, who escapes jiggle duty due to her indeterminate advanced age) is definitely female in profile view..."