Ai Yori Aoshi

Reviews

therik's avatar By on May 12, 2009

Story

The reason why certain premises are recycled and re-worked time and again without so much as a twist is a pretty simple one - you don't mess with success. After all, if you put one male character in a house with a bunch of quirky females and layer it with a simple romance plot, what can possibly go wrong? To this last question, rhetorical though it may have been, Ai Yori Aoshi provides a comprehensive - if excruciatingly overlong - answer.

Predictability will always be a calling card of the harem romance, as much a part of its makeup as colorful hair, cute girls and awkward situations. However, Ai Yori Aoshi takes this a step further, practically redefining the the concept by stretching it to breaking point. Suffice to say that if you are unable to guess how things will turn out after watching just the first episode of this series, it will be because you set your sights too high and hoped for a surprise, a shock, a bombshell or any kind of diversion from the plot's unwaveringly linear course.

This alone is not enough to render the series entirely without merit. Instead, that crucial task is delegated to the many failed attempts at comedy, sentiment or anything which would have given the anime some measure of personality. Although there are a couple of rowdy characters in the mix, Ai Yori Aoshi's humour is executed with all the enthusiasm and wit of a chartered accountant with a gun pointed at his head. The only real way to tell that a scene was supposed to be funny is the occasional sweat drops which materialise on the back of characters' heads. If this show had canned laughter, I probably wouldn't be sane enough to write this.

The anime's experiments in sentimentality are equally clumsy and ill-advised. In addition to the aforementioned predictability and the tedious characters, something which I will get onto later, the show ruins most of its emotional scenes with its incessant drive to patronise the viewer by having characters voice their thoughts and feelings in a manner more suited to an infant's puppet show than what is ostensibly a series aimed at relatively mature individuals. In one scene, for example, the heroine Aoi stares wistfully at the clock, then at the empty chair opposite her, then at the full plate of food laid out in front of the empty chair. A few seconds pass before she announces, seemingly to herself "I wonder where Kaoru has got to? He should be home by now" or something equally banal but just as bleeding obvious from the circumstances.

With all of this said, I would be doing the show an injustice if I let this review pass by without divulging the fact that occasionally - very, very occasionally, mind you - Ai Yori Aoshi delivered a moment that amused me, engaged me, or otherwise got my attention. However, watching the entire series just for these sporadic flashes of averageness would be akin to sailing the Seven Seas in search of a treasure chest containing 50p and a half-eaten digestive.


Animation

Ai Yori Aoshi's animation is unadventurous, generic and ordinary, but at least it is competent. There's nothing eye-catching or memorable and - although the characters occasionally lack detail and even correct proportions when viewed from a distance - there's nothing overwhelmingly bad about it. It's colorful but not garish and the face faults, while they might not be amusing, at least aren't annoying.

In visual terms, there is one thing which sticks out like a bear in a paddling pool. As clearly evidenced by the opening animation and a scene in the first episode, Aoi has neither pubic hair nor nipples - an omission so glaring that even the most virginal contingent of this anime's demographic cannot fail to miss it. I can only assume that this is down to some censorship or certification issues, but such an assumption hardly makes things any less unsettling or bizarre.


Sound

The incidental music is just that - incidental. Although I'm sure it's preferable to having complete silence or Vanilla Ice's Greatest Hits, there's nothing memorable or extraordinary about the background tunes. The OP fares a little better, being pleasant and almost catchy, while the ED is plain and just a touch irksome, in keeping with the series as a whole.

The voicing, on the other hand, is one of the show's few positives. Although I found one or two of the voices bordering on annoying, every single one of them fit the characters so perfectly that it feels entirely unfair to lay any blame here.


Characters

If someone said to me "You know, I'm thinking of making a haremy, romancey, slice-of-lifey comedy kinda thing", the first thing I would say to them is "well, just you make sure that the characters are interesting and likeable." Dismayingly, nobody was on hand to offer Ai Yori Aoshi's creators such sage advice or, if they were, the advice was ignored and the piece of paper it was written on shredded and tossed into a fire as soon as their back was turned. To sum up, the characters are dull and fail to engage on any level, which costs the show dearly.

The male lead, Kaoru, is as faceless as most other male harem characters but I expected this. What drags the show down is that the girls are as bad, if not worse. Aoi - who would sooner clean a mansion from top to bottom in preparation for Kaoru's return than have an independent thought - is an embarrassment to her gender, and the implicit suggestion that this is the kind of girl that men would be interested in manages to insult the other half of the human race. Aoi is not alone, however. Most of the other characters are equally needy and emotionally feeble; even though several of them clearly adore the ordinary Kaoru and worship the ground on which he walks, the conflicts between them never get any more serious than a bout of face-pulling.

Only Miyabi, who has the good sense to dislike Kaoru the moment she sets eyes on him, retains some dignity and seems like an actual human being. Every other character is either on the lookout for breasts to fondle, stood next to Kaoru with their arms permanently wrapped around his waist like some kind of pathetic koala or - in Tina's case - both. It's incredibly difficult to feel sympathy for or even to like any of the protagonists, which makes the series fail on pretty much every front.


Overall

The title of the anime translates as "Bluer than Indigo", but I think a far better description would be "Beiger than Beige". The series is uninteresting, uninvolving and largely forgettable. There are many similar anime out there which are far better on every front - Love Hina being one such example. Already seen it? No matter; I'd have sooner watched it for a third time than exposed myself to this torrent of blandness and inadequacy.

2.5/10 story
6/10 animation
6.5/10 sound
2.5/10 characters
3.5/10 overall
ninjaknow's avatar By on Apr 19, 2011

great romantic anime has a some what empty storyline but great moments throughout the whole thing. fun for anyone over 14

7/10 story
9/10 animation
6/10 sound
8/10 characters
8/10 overall
Komirai's avatar By on Jul 7, 2012

The story itself isn't out of the ordinary......boy meets girl, falls in love and another 4 girls do the same. However, it is good the way the story develops around the two main characters. The male lead isn't an asshole nor an idiot and that makes him a likable character. The female lead is.....interesting......She doesn't know anything else besides her love for the male lead and it's kinda interesting to see how the story develops around her.

There is no tragedy to make the plot a little more complicated (except the facts concerning the past of the main male character which I won't spoil for you), so all you can expect is love-love in every episode.

The motivation of each character is explained and you get to identify with the situation of a few characters, however there are some that only do what they do because they want and that leaves you with the feeling of emptiness.

I would recommend this anime if you want a light story of love....

8/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
8/10 characters
9/10 overall
Shuhan's avatar By on Oct 23, 2012

It's an average love story. The story is not bad but not good either. This kind of story is now common in romantic anime so I don't rate it high. But the starting is a bit different though. Their falling in love is different than most of the romantic anime but not unique. They fall in love when they were child. When they were child their family made an engagement. That's how they met first. Aoi the main female role keep her love in her heart for a long time. But a lot happend to Karou. He left his family and started to live on his own so he almost forgot everything until he met with Aoi again after 16 years later. Then a little by little he realized how much does Aoi love him.

The female main character is too emotional and cry baby. But the main male role is good enough. He is not irritating like other romantic protagonist roles. He is smart and gentle. The other characters of this anime is also good. They are a lots of fun. Specially Tina Foster and Mayu Miyuki are  the two character that made this anime lively, otherwise it would be too boooring.

The animation is good enough to watch. I like the animation works. The art work is good. The character design, dress up, back ground every thing is perfect. So I rate it 7/10.

The background music is also perfect for a romantic anime. I also like the opening and ending songs.

Overall I can say that you can watch this anime if you are a romantic anime fan. I'm not into too much slow paced romantic anime. So it seems a little bit boring to me. But if you are a romantic anime fan then you may like it. I rate this anime 6.5/10.

5.5/10 story
7.5/10 animation
7.5/10 sound
7/10 characters
6.5/10 overall
MAK2Hybrid's avatar By on Jul 16, 2013

Once again, I’m dipping my toe into the pool of harem anime and I’m still very much against the genre as most of it is just unfunny, uninspired, sophomoric and juvenile shows about what annoying girl gets to be with some generic guy and the dumb-ass antics they go through. I may come out as being cynical towards it but yet I got every reason to and I don’t know about this one, as I don’t feel that cynical towards this title mainly because of its story. So what is it about, you ask? Oh, did I mention that the title in English is actually called Bluer than Indigo?

Kaoru Hanabishi, a college student who lives alone, met a beautiful but bewildered girl dressed in kimono at train station. He volunteered to guide her way to the address she was looking for, which looked like in his neighborhood but turned out to be an empty lot. Not knowing what to do next, Kaoru invited the devastated girl to his apartment and asked for additional clue — a photo with two children whom Kaoru immediately identified as himself and Aoi Sakuraba, his childhood friend. It turned out that the girl in front of him is Aoi Sakuraba herself, his betrothed fiancée who came all the way to Tokyo to marry him. Her revelation was not only surprising but also reminded the deepest part of Kaoru’s memory for why he left the Hanabishi family in the first place.

Well, what can I say? The romance between Aoi and Kaoru is really the heart of the show and I was really rooting for those two to get together and make it last with the drama of their families keeping them apart makes it more interesting, like a rendition of a classic love story……….

BUT………unfortunately, as the series starts strong, it limps into almost Love Hina/any harem category when the main plot is sidestepped by the additional characters of the story. I get that reason for their existence is that Kaoru can have someone as family to him considering his mother abandoned him and his family kicked him out of his home and I would be fine with that, if the characters weren’t just the basic harem archetypes…but then again, it could be worse.

Also, I’m impressed with how long they kept the secret of Aoi & Kaoru being together from the tenants as some other shows would have somebody knowing about it halfway….that or some of the tenants aren’t that bright.

But like I said, the only interesting characters in the show are Aoi and Kaoru and yet, there are some things that I don’t like about them. For example, Aoi is about as adorable as a character can be, but she is more like an otaku’s waifu dream and that’s not a good thing. She’s more of a fantasy self-insert character that only wants to be that guy’s wife and nothing more. Kaoru is the more reserved character but not the generic passive, simpering moron you see in most harem shows although that does lead to the next problem of why so many of the girls in the show are attracted to him. First, there’s the token American character Tina Foster, the very energetic and loud character whom loves animals, drinking a lot of booze, and can often play grabby hands once it comes to Taeko, the accident-prone and ditzy bespectacled girl who’s only purpose in the anime is being either cosplay fetish…..oh, did I forget to mention that she has big breasts? Miyabi, Aoi’s bodyguard, is the one character who at first, I thought I would hate but actually she’s one of the better characters of the show….well, her and the pet ferret. Mayu, the prodigy, is the worst offender of them all as she is the most annoying character of the show, up to Love Hina levels, as she keeps going on and on about being with Kaoru and often fights with Tina, which makes her more bearable in comparison and last is Chika, Taeko’s cousin, who looks up to Kaoru as an older brother, but thankfully, not in a creepy way.

The animation by J.C. Staff is very artsy in its own way. The scenery is like what most amateur painters would want to capture in their own canvas. There were a few mishaps in some parts of it, mostly the gag-based animation, but it still holds to being alright. The music is sweet and gentle as the show fits although the opening and ending themes do nothing for me other than skip through them.

The Pioneer (Geneon) / Bang Zoom dub was more of a miss than hit. Michelle Ruff as Aoi was convincing enough to enjoy it and Dave Wittenberg was listenable as Kaoru but Wendee Lee’s portrayal of Tina Foster was just unbearably obnoxious and grating as she tries to sound like a drunken Texan; Karen Strassman (or Kirsty Pape) and Sue Beth Arden’s performances were a bit too high with their voices and mostly irritating, coming from Strassman’s performance. There is also an unrecognizable Kari Wahlgren (Kay Jensen) as Chika and honestly, I thought it was some other actress doing that voice….and I checked the VA’s of this show beforehand.

FINAL VERDICT: The show does feel like another harem clone in the making if it weren’t for the romantic love story angle that kept the show from being bad, but you should give the show a chance to look at before judgment.

8/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
6/10 characters
7/10 overall