January 15, 2003

Not quite triumphant return

And once again, I'm back. This time I had some nasty computer trouble, including a reformatted hard drive and internet problems and such. Thankfully, I didn't really lose anything this time. Word of advice people: when tech support asks you to delete key system files, remember that they just might not know what the hell they're doing.

Also, I'm not going to whine about my wisdom teeth coming out. Sure, my mouth hurts and I can't really talk or eat anything but soup, but no complaining here! Nope, not a word. I'll just let out some bile about a series that I wasn't thrilled with.

I've used my vacation well, and finally finished Ai Yori Aoshi. Despite having the whole series for a long time, it's taken a while because, for me at least, this series was really a rollercoaster ride. First it would be great... then I couldn't stand it... then it was okay... then it was mediocre... then it looked like it was getting better... then it fell into the gutter again... and so on and so on. Mostly it bounced back and forth between being a cool show and being a cynical cash-in on fanboys desperate to pretend they're loved by a horde of pretty girls (ie, everything that makes a harem show bad).

On the one hand, it had some really good elements. The thing with Kaoru running away from his tyrannical zaibatsu family was cool, and I wish they'd developed it instead of just tossing it out there and mostly ignoring it. Tina had moments where she was an interesting character, and watching Miyabi's ice gradually crack was always a bit entertaining. Except...

Half the characters had no real development aside from having a badly explained crush on Kaoru. Sasami with a dye job and tan (oh, sorry, I mean Chika) seemed to only be included in order to attract scary pedophile fanboys, and the clumsy girl who desperately wants to be a maid (why would anyone want to be that) does the same for anyone with the maid-fetish that seems to be currently sweeping Japan. And Tina has to go around grabbing other girls breasts WHY exactly? (that was a rhetorical question) Plus, the show steals charaters and plots shamelessly from other well-known shows. One of the most prominent is the photo club Kaoru is involved in, which was ripped off Ah! My Goddess's motorbike club so completely they didn't even bother to change one of the sempai's character designs.

And that's not even counting the whole "women should be happy to stay home and clean and cook and wear kimonos" theme that runs rampant in the show. I mean, I'm not exactly a rabid feminist, but half the time Aoi opened her mouth I had a burning desire to shake her and scream "Show some backbone! Wear some pants! Hire someone else to cook and clean! Go somewhere and have fun! Do, I dunno, whatever women do to get liberated." Although she admittedly gets a little better by the last few episodes, going so far as to dare to speak when not spoken to (I'm exagerating, but not by much).

At least it ended on a pretty high note. Kaoru got something that almost resembled character development and Aoi managed to stand up to her parents. Of course, the rest of his harem stayed exactly as they were, forever pining after the Karou so fanboys can mentally take his place and make out with whichever girl they like most (personally, I like Tina. Sure, she's a mildly violent lush and is used mostly for fanservice, but she's the only girl there who shows a backbone and is over 16).

Next time, I promise to rant about a show I actually like. Interestingly enough, before I watched this I thought I'd like it but it turned out I only tolerated it. The next rant will be about a show I thought would turn out mediocre and I ended up loving it.

Posted by David at January 15, 2003 03:54 AM


While I did like this show quite a bit overall, I completely agree on a lot of the weak points of the show. Especially the whole "women should stay at home and so on" part. It made me quite aware that I didn't quite know everything about this side of Japanese culture. If it is still much a part of it, how people view it, etc.

Overall what made the series for me was the love story parts of it. Because when they were doing those parts I think the writing was the best. I've heard that the manga this is based on is even more fan servicey (which scares me some).

I ended up liking Tina a bit too actually. She reminded me of a friend of mine who is just about as off the wall (except she's always going around squeezing people's behinds). She bugged the crap out of me at first though.

I kept wanting to see Aoi crack and just blow up at someone. Like that rich girl who wanted Kaoru, I was just waiting and waiting for her to pop during one episode. She is just too nice.

I also liked this better than another show I was watching at the same time as this, which was Chobits. They were both cases of shows that weren't bad, but that just never really made it all the way for me (even if sometimes for days all I could do is walk around going Chii!)

Posted by: gregory at January 15, 2003 06:35 AM

I like the ending song by Indigo a lot.

Tina rules! I am always a sucker for dialectal accents.

Ai totally creeped me out in the beginning but I got into the groove of what Ai Yori Aoshi is and went with the flow.

I liked Mayu's backstory very much.

I rationalized the series as being a shallow reverse-gender fruits basket kind of thing. Kaoru is helping all these people out through his kindness and understanding. This could have been brought out more but harem-style stories are doing gangbusters nowadays, so oh well.

Posted by: izumi at January 15, 2003 11:58 AM

Oh, and one other thing I liked about Kaoru was that he wasn't as wishy washy as your typical male character in a harem show. He really was pretty much all about Aoi. That part was a nice change.

Posted by: gregory at January 15, 2003 02:00 PM

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