Ajimu ~Beach Story~
Nakaido Hirosuke is just average high school student, which really means he is just another dull anime protagonist. While taking the train to school one day, he catches sight of the lovely Ajimu, and falls for her instantly.
Imagine this heart-to-heart conversation between you and your mother:
"Mom, how did you meet Dad?"
"Well honey," says Mom with a hint of a blush, "I met your father for the first time when he molested me on a crowded train on the way to school."
"Mom?" you say, nonplussed.
"It wasn't like that, exactly. Honey, I didn't notice it at first, but it was really some stranger's tennis racket digging into my womanhood. It was a really crowded train, dear, the kind of crowded trains only created by contrived storylines that find mistaken sexual molestation to be funny. But I honestly thought it was your Dad- I had noticed him ogling me before. I got out of that train as fast as I could, but to my dismay your dad just kept following me. I thought he was some kind of stalker, but he really just wanted to apologize and explain how the whole thing was a misunderstanding, and it wasn't him who nearly stole my virginity."
She coughs discreetly, her slim hands covering her brightly pink cheeks. You are hoping this a joke.
"Anyway, when I was a younger girl I used to play my ukulele on the beach for tourists once a week or so. I thought I had given your Dad the slip, but sure enough, he came, and I got so upset that I cried and yelled at him and scared the tourists away."
"What happened then?"
"Well, after he realized how upset I was, he made this speech. I don't remember what it was about, but I'm sure it was really sweet. I remember that after that speech, he grabbed me and kissed me. We fell into the tide together." She pauses, her eyes glistening. "I think it was after that kiss that I realized I really liked him."
You may stop imagining now. You're welcome.
Ajimu ~Beach Story~ is an anime with a fixation for Hawaii. And not the real Hawaii, but the kind of Hawaii only found in tourist booklets and Travel Channel airings. The romance takes place on a beach, with lots of Hawaiian shirts and tourists even during the school season. The heroine plays a ukulele at a night club. (She's not actually playing Hawaiian music, though- it's fluffy pop music with a ukulele where a synthesizer should be). Everyone drinks cocktails and mocktails, which isn't really Hawaiian, but is very touristy. The problem with this: the anime is obviously set in Japan. I mean, sheesh, if you're going to put so much effort into giving the anime a Hawaiian flavor, why not just extract the plot and characters from Japan and put them in Hawaii?
The story is boy meets girl, to quote the esteemed Roger Ebert, "Meet Cute" and fall in love after the initial misunderstanding I summed up in the above introduction. That was the first episode, and it is the most disagreeable of the four. In the second episode, Boy continues to try to work up the courage to confess to Girl, while Girl tries to work out her feelings for Boy after recovering from a relationship that broke her heart. Prerequisite Rival makes a move on Boy, while Best Friend begins to set his sight on Rival. In episode three, we the audience discover that Old Flame is not really dead as supposed, and in episode four everything is resolved neatly. It's like the series was plotted on an Excel spreadsheet, everything that's supposed to happen is so neatly divided with lines drawn between what happens here and what happens there.
But it's not unwatchable. In fact, the whole show is kinda sweet at the end when everything is (very, very) neatly wrapped up. There are several very campy moments throughout the movie that got a good laugh out of me, especially the plot twist at the end of episode four. It's a very earnest show that really believes it's good entertainment, and those make the best kind of camp.
In fact, I think that's the only kind of camp there is.
"Something that provides sophisticated, knowing amusement, as by virtue of its being artlessly mannered or stylized, self-consciously artificial and extravagant, or teasingly ingenuous and sentimental."
Artlessly mannered or styled? Check. And it's not even the artificial kind, which means it's way funnier than the kind that tries to be campy.
There is one character that deserves a mention in the review, even though she has no name while all the other characters can be named by their stereotypes and that'd be all you ever need to know about them. She is Boy's grandmother, and she kicks seven different kinds of ass at video games. Okay, she's there as gimmicky humor relief. She's still fun, though in retrospect I can't put my finger on why.
During my freshman year in college, I took two Creative Writing workshops. In both of those classes was this poor young thing that couldn't write an interesting short story. It was painful to watch her try, and even more painful to read her work. She wrote these sickly sweet romances with no creativity and a lot of fervor and energy. Now, understand that I write this not out of ego or spite- God knows my own writing was of dubious quality more often than not- but because it was quietly agreed among the rest of students that her work was a drag to read. I think her reading diet before the class had consisted of the lowest of chick-lit, and I doubt she knew any better than to write like she did. She was, in a way, innocently wrong. Ajimu reminded me of her fiction- written with sweet passion and enthusiasm, never knowing that there are better ways to tell a story.
A poorly executed show whose only redemptive feature is its sweetness. And that sweetness is the spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down, and cures it of a one star rating. — Bradley Meek
Recommended Audience: There is some pandering with panty flashes and the like sprinkled lightly throughout the show, but they are there almost as an afterthought or a prerequisite. There's also a hint at two illicit relationships, one implausible between Old Flame and a tweenager, and one between Old Master and Other Student that the anime does nothing to disprove.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub.
Review Status: Full (4/4)
Ajimu ~Beach Story~ © 2001 Actas, THS, F&F
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