Video Girl Ai
Poor Moteuchi Youta. Nicknamed "Motenai Youta" ("motenai" meaning unpopular with girls, or "dateless" in Japanese slang), and distraught over having his love, Moemi, reveal her feelings to him ... for his best friend Takashi ... Youta walks into a video store he had never noticed before. He picks up a video with a Video Girl, designed to comfort him through his time of trouble. To his infinite surprise, she leaps OUT of the television and turns out to be a very real, living being! Problem is, since Youta's VCR was broken, Video Girl Ai doesn't exactly turn out to be the perfect little maiden he'd envisioned, and even worse, her breasts have shrunk! Ai's attempts to comfort Youta, while trying to aid him in his quest to still win Moemi lead to both touching moments of romance and wild bits of slightly ecchi comedy, as the lives of the four main characters begin to intertwine in ways they could never imagine.
Video Girl Ai is one bundle of fun that I never really expected. This six-part OAV series is one of the funniest romantic comedies I've seen in a while, and Viz has done well to release it here in the United States.
Amano Ai is the Video Girl in question - uncharacteristically bull-headed and aggressive (she claims because of Youta's defective VCR), she sometimes bullies Youta into doing things to try to win back Moemi from his best friend, who isn't even interested in her in the first place! There's a lot of suggestion that Takashi may really be interested in *Youta*, especially in the (mostly) hilarious Omake segments that appear after the credits of OAVs 1-5, similar to Blue Seed's Omake Theaters.
At the core of a series that, at first glance seems to be merely an excuse for some ecchi comedy (of which there is more than the usual in the first OAV) lies a touching story of how the relationships between friends become more and more complex ... and as it is revealed the Youta's broken VCR may have affected Ai in more ways than even her creator could have anticipated, we find a far more sinister force ready to extinguish the flames of a true love found between the two main characters who expected least to fall for each other.
The biggest reason that this character-driven romance series succeeds is the acting job of the leads, in particular, Youta, and Ai herself (the irrepressible Megumi Hayashibara in yet another of my favorite roles). Music is catchy and entertaining, with Sakai Noriko (familiar to fans of Gunbuster) singing the opening song, though, she's actually outshined this time by the beautiful end song, "Ano Hi Ni" by Kimura Maki. Art quality is fairly high, with the character designs staying very faithful to the original manga by Masakazu Katsura (who also created DNAČ).
The overall impression of this series is something, however, far beyond what it appears to be. Video Girl Ai is a romantic story that will, in the end, capture your heart.
A highly recommended classic anime love story. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: Some rather blatant nudity on Ai's part and ecchi behavior will exclude all but older teens and adults from this one. No actual sex, though. The sixth and final OAV is surprisingly violent, though most of it is metaphorical.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (6/6)
Video Girl Ai © 1992 Katsura Masakazu / Shueisha
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