Gee, I so hate to put a damper on the fanservice episodes :)
Courtland J. Carpenter | Fort Wayne, Indiana United States | 11/03/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Ok, it looks like they decided to put the obligatory (for light weight anime) beach episodes, and the festival episodes pretty close together. They even managed to slip in something about watermelons, which seem to be somewhat of a Japanese focus for fun food in anime, because they are so expensive in Japan. I'm not going to go into much detail here. Fans, who like to see their favorite anime characters is swimsuits, won't be disappointed, but this hardly holds up very well to the early series promise. As you can see from the editorial review, there are several predictable, but funny moments.The beach and the festival episodes seem to adhere to a basic formula for "situation comedy", punctuated at the end, by a few tender moments between Aoi and Kaoru. I guess this is a common formula for many series, (anime or live) to sustain a romantic theme between two characters without spoiling it, and taking away the romantic tension. What really doesn't make much sense is the apparent clueless approach of the supporting characters. It should be painfully obvious to all who Kaoru and Aoi really love.My major complaint was stated in my first review of this series on DVD one. I thought it had the makings of a classic based on the first three or four episodes. The comedy seemed to come easily, even when the plot seemed more serious. The relationship between Aoi and Kaoru, given its consequences, seemed to have ample substance to sustain a serious series for 26 episodes, and perhaps more. Why then, did the creators choose to revert to the light humor of a Love Hina, or Tenchi Muyo type of anime?Ai Yori Aoshi overall, is not a bad series. Overall, I rated it four stars (only three for this set of episodes). It just could have been much better, but stay tuned. Things do get better again soon, as the conflict and the depth of the romance will grow anew."
We're a Family...
Bryan Weber | San Angelo, TX | 08/26/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Vol. 4 of Ai Yori Aoshi introduces us to the final girl to enter the series, Chika. The hyper-enegetic cousin of live-in housekeeper Taeko, Chika immediately gets the wrong idea about her shy cousin and Kaorou.
Her efforts at trying to play matchmaker are hilarious. But the moments between Kaorou and Aoi are as tender and heartfelt as possible. Aoi feels too shy to wear a swimsuit in public, but the ever observant Miyabi sees the problem, and arranges a late night trip to a secluded part of the beach for the young lovers. There, Aoi remembers that Kaorou also has his own reasons not to be seen bare in public, the horrid scars given to him by his grandfather. But they're perfectly fine being seen by one another.
Tina Foster, the brash but lovable American in the series decides to send the photo club on a tour of the zoo to see a set of rare golden monkies. Unfortunately, Kaorou is the only one who comes, and the two of them are stranded in a heavy downpour with no way home. They're forced to seek shelter in one of Japan's infamous "Love" hotels. Tension and temptation are overcome, and the two manage to enter and leave as friends.
Then Chika comes for a visit. She's looking for help with her homework, but more importantly, she's looking for what it means to be a family. She finds both in the tenents of the Sakuraba house.
Finally, the Photo Club is looking for the perfect way to earn money during the School Festival, and they find the answer in Aoi-chan's skills with the tea ceremony. Pulling together as a team, they manage to make the booth work to their advantage, but Kaorou and Aoi find it difficult to spend time together without giving away the secret of their relationship.
This is my favorite romantic series. I watch it with my wife, and guys, it's the sort of thing she'll love you for."
And then there's Chika...
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 08/31/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The fourth DVD volume of Ai Yori Aoshi introduces my second favourite character in the series (after Aoi-chan, of course). I refer to the cute, hard-working, capable, and spirited Chika Minazuki, who is Taeko's 14 year-old cousin. The usual gang, including Mayu, are invited to the beach house of Taeko's grandmother, where they meet Chika. Mayu is dead set on making this "a sweet yet hot summer story" between her and Kaoru. Miyabi-san's idea of summer is that Japanese pastime of "suikawari," or splitting watermelons with a bat and not cavorting on the beach.
But the battle between Tina and Mayu extends to the battle of the bathing suits, with Tina preferring those with an adult charm, while Mayu goes for those that are cuter and elegant, not obscene. Aoi herself buys a tasteful one-piece, but is too embarrassed to show so much bare skin in front of others, a sentiment I deeply share, and becomes the wallflower, watching Tina, Mayu, Taeko, and her fiancé Kaoru play on the beach.
There, Taeko's feelings about Kaoru, her university senpai (senior), are aroused. "Senpai is kind, easy to speak to and he helps me out in times of need. Perhaps my feelings are..." However, the precocious Chika decides to play Cupid and conspires to get Kaoru and Taeko together. A success? Put it this way, the best type of comedy is a matter of timing, and that happens. In introspection, Taeko realizes the strengths of her friends: Aoi is someone who can do anything, Miyabi-san someone strong-willed, Tina someone bright, and Mayu someone honest to herself. If she could be just like all of them, she'll be so much better.
Chika later repays the visit to the gang's mansion, where she asks them to let her stay so she can finish her summer homework, something she didn't do because she wanted to help her grandmother. The others are more than welcome to help her if she needs it, but Chika proves capable. In return, she helps out around the mansion, dressed in a cute maid's outfit similar to her cousin's. She impresses everyone, even Miyabi-san, who is astounded at Chika's putting away her files without asking her everytime! And get a load of her kicking Tina's pants in a fighting video game! Although fond of everyone, she has lots of affection for Kaoru, calling him "oniichan" or "big brother."
For Chika, an only child, she is all to delighted when Aoi says we're your family, eating together, sleeping under the same roof, and sharing fun and sad times. Indeed, she has some big sisters, one who's a good cook (Aoi), one full of energy (Tina), one who does her best (Taeko), one who works very efficiently (Miyabi), and a very kind brother (Kaoru). This is one of my favourite episodes for its tenderness. And, as Miyabi prophetically says after Chika says goodbye, "Perhaps we'll have another tenant soon."
An outing to an animal park turns into an overnight stay for Kaoru and Tina, when flooding disrupts the train lines. The hidden feelings Tina has for Kaoru surface. She says something interesting when asked why she loves animals so much. "Because snimals can't talk, people have to understand how animals feel. Of course, people can talk, but they don't really say how they really feel all that much." Ironically, that describes her to a tee. The end of this story has Satsuki Yukino, Tina's voice actress, doing a special ending theme song, "I'll Be Home."
The photo club's tea shop, originally in manga #2, finally makes its appearance here, though with Mayu and Chika's appearance, something not in the manga. The photo club's cosplay animal café for the 3-day university festival is a disaster when Tina's idea of cute animals include certain members of the family Reptilia. However, sometimes simpler is better, and Aoi-chan's deliciously brewed green tea leads to the traditional Japanese Café Aoi, named by photo club president Suzuki. This is a great moment for Aoi, who's in her element, but she clearly has fun working hard with things. But at the sight of Kaoru's ridiculous bunny costume, she bursts out laughing loud, surprising Miyabi-san. Another of my favourite episodes.
There is no such thing as too much Chika. Her appearance lights up the already tender-hearted series. "
Beach episodes with heart
Thomas Lent | Hayward, CA United States | 04/07/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Before watching this DVD I was quite annoyed at the idea of another harem series with the (...) girls going to the requisite trip to the beach. But, here, we have a twist. The most important girl in the series is too shy to wear a swimsuit. Most of the frolic occurs off-screen. So, instead of being completely about the male character falling head over heels for all the bikini clad girls. We get Kaoru just being his good old self and still wanting to spend time with his one interest, Aoi.The new girl here is Taeko's cousin, Chika. Upon meeting Kaoru she proceeds to play matchmaker with her cousin and her 'boyfriend', uh 'husband', uh... wait a minute...Tina gets another moment alone with Kaoru and this time it happens away from the mansion, not to mention at a romantic suites hotel. The tension between the two is expressed so well that it almost seems like they can't avoid each other for much longer. I'm still left wondering; How long can they stay friends? and What does Tina actually think about herself?The character development flys with leaps and bounds throughout this disk. This is a rare case where beach and festival episodes are more than just filler and skinfest. Look out though. The nudity does arise quite often in and around these episodes and there is a brief moment of underage exposure."
Addictive for a reason
Mark | Dover, DE USA | 09/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are many series out there that people find addictive, and this I'm sure will be one of them. I find myself drawn into the story even when I've watched the episodes over and over, and almost memorized parts of the dialog, but then, that's what makes a truly interesting story, the ability to go back to it again and again and have it feel new and different all over again.If you like a good romance, this is for you. If you like comedy, again, give this a try. You won't be disappointed with it, trust me. I first picked up this series thinking it wasn't going to be great but at least I'd try, and I've been hooked since. If you don't want to buy it, find someone that has it and borrow it, it won't be long until you're back to buy it."