AI YORI AOSHI-ENISHI (2003) 

 

Format: 12 23-minute episodes on 3 DVDs

Rating: PG-13 (BN, AC)

Type: Romantic Comedy

American Production: Geneon Entertainment

English Dub Production: BANG ZOOM! Entertainment

Japanese Production: AIAO Project

 

Grading

 

Premise:

C

Story:

Writing:

Character Design:

A- 

Animation:

B+

Artistic Merits:

A-

English Dub:

A-

Musical Score:

A- 

Songs:

B+ 

Opener:

B+

Closer:

B+

 

 

Humor Content:

Action Content:

n/a

Drama Content:

 

 

DVD Presentation:

A-

DVD Extras:

 

 

OVERALL:

B

 

Synopsis

NOTE: This review assumes that the reader is familiar with the events in the first season of Ai Yori Aoshi.

 

      Two years have now passed since Aoi and Kaoru reunited (or a bit more than a year since the end of the previous series). All the cast from the first season are back as life continues as usual at the Sakuraba summer estate, with the main new developments being Kaoru’s progression to graduate school and Chika’s progression to high school. Once again the group does the rounds of beaches, hot springs resorts, individual dates, celebrations, supposed hauntings, sporting events, and assorted hijinks, with Kaoru ever being his hopelessly good-natured self.

 

The Long View

      This shorter sequel season to one of the warmest and fuzziest of all romantic comedies looks even better than the original; in fact, it is one of the prettiest-looking anime series made to date. It retains all the warmth, hijinks, and gentle good nature of the original as each volume roughly corresponds to a changing season. The overarching theme this time is that the regular characters are bound by enishi, the red string of fate which ties people to one another. While a sweet notion, the major problem with Enishi is that NOTHING REALLY HAPPENS. Nearly every episode in this season is fluff and filler, with the only meaningful development being Tina having to return back home to the States, possibly never to return, after graduation. Can she confess her feelings to Kaoru before that happens? Oh, yes, and one of the supporting characters finally gets an inkling on the real relationship between Aoi and Kaoru, though she chooses not to comment on it to anyone else. Oh, it’s still a light, fluffy, feel-good view, but fans who were hoping for Aoi and Kaoru to finally “come out of the closet” will be sorely disappointed. Although the end of the series did feel like a proper ending, and did have some interesting picture suggesting future events in the credits, a wrap-up OVA or movie showing the two getting properly married would be greatly welcomed on the part of this fan.

      As stated in the Synopsis, the cast is a complete carry-over from the original. The only new additions are Natsuki and Chizuru, two of Chika’s new friend who have prominent roles in a few different episodes. One of the funniest moments in the entire series concerns a side of Mayu’s servant which we have not seen before, which happens briefly during Mayu’s “date” episode with Kaoru.

      The artistry, animation, and character design, as stated before, are all exceptional. This season entirely carries over the fine vocal cast from the first season, so there is no drop-off in quality there. The soundtrack is just as good at setting mood as that of the original season, while the opener is a sweet song and the closer a more upbeat number, both of them worthy of repeat airings on a soundtrack.

      Graphic content in this series is entirely limited to the occasional fan service shots and somewhat racy dream sequences. Nothing here that would step beyond a PG-13 rating, however.

 

DVD Extras

·  Alternate reverse cover

·  Mini-poster featuring series artwork

·  Company previews

·  Special Episode: “Miyuki” (vol. 1) – This 16-minute bonus episode is a sweet, charming bit showing a Christmas for Kaoru a year or two before he was reunited with Aoi. All alone in the world at this point, Kaoru finds himself joined for Christmas day by a Santa spirit who is a dead ringer for the grown-up Aoi (though he doesn’t realize that yet), whom only he, other kids, and animals can seem to see. The good rating given for Extras in this series is based primarily on this extra.

·  Creditless opening/ending (vol. 2 and 3)

·  Yoko Ishida Live at AX ’04 (vol 3) – 9 minutes of live concert footage featuring the singer behind the opening theme songs for both seasons performing full versions of them live.

 

 

Principle English Voice Actors

Role

Voice Actor

Aoi Sakuraba

Michelle Ruff

Kaoru Hanabishi

David Lelyveld

Miss Miyabi

Lia Sargent

Tina Foster

Wendee Lee

Taeko

Sue Beth Arden

Mayu

Kirsty Pape

Chika

Kay Jensen

Suzuki

Lex Lang

Sato

Ron Allen

 Natsuki

 Julie Anne Taylor

 Chizuru

 Dorothy Elias-Fahn

 Utsume

 Kaeko Sakamoto*

 

 * - also the ADR director

 

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