Video Girl Ai
The romantic-triangle (or pentagram, tetrahedron, whatever) is a pretty typical plot device in anime dealing with relationships and Video Girl Ai is no exception. It's your standard romantic comedic fare with a slight twist. That is, the "video girl" herself.
The story begins with a troubled high-school student, Yota, watching a video of said girl, Ai Amano. Yota is in love with a girl, Moemi, but unfortunately, he finds out that Moemi is in love with his best friend, Takashi. So, Yota is drowning his sorrows by watching this video which is designed to cheer him up. Much to Yota's surprise, however, Ai suddenly materializes in the real world!
Ai, it turns out, is not quite what Yota expected. It seems that Yota's VCR malfunctions slightly causing some changes to both Ai's personality and her *cough* chest (it shrinks, must to Ai's chagrin). This leaves Ai with a bit of a split personality. She fulfills her duty as a "video girl" and tries to cheer Yota up (basically by being his friend), but is also prone to fits of rage (knocking Yota senseless with various kitchen ware, for example). The simple truth is, Ai is just plain fun. She's spunky, a little crazy, genuinely caring, and quite engaging. Yota, himself, is a decent person torn between his love for Moemi, but also his respect for her feelings towards Takashi. He's a pretty sympathetic and likable character.
While a lot of time is spent developing Yota and Ai, much less time is spent on Takashi and Moemi. Takashi fulfills his roll as Yota's best friend nicely and it's obvious he cares for Yota quite a bit. He knows that Yota loves Moemi and even tries to bring Yota and Moemi together. Beyond this, however, there's really not much time devoted to developing anything further. Moemi is the most neglected character of them all. She just acts like a perky, happy, and generally "nice" school-girl, but ends up being fairly derivative. This is a shame since I never really figured out what Yota saw in her.
Story-wise, things begin with a fairly heavy comedic dose as Ai begins her task of cheering up Yota. As mentioned, she can be quite a riot at times and there are plenty of silly gags to go around. After the first couple episodes, things settle down a bit and the series becomes more serious in nature. The focus shifts from Ai's silly antics to relationship developments between the various characters. The change is subtle and the overall story line flows quite nicely from comedy to drama.
The finale, however, left something to be desired. The events shift from real-world scenarios to something completely fanciful. I guess it was supposed to wrap things up (more or less), but it did so in a less than satisfying manner. A new character is introduced, Ai's creator, but I really felt this was entirely unnecessary. The whole series was about the characters and their feelings towards each other, and throwing in this extra character seems to interfere with the characters being able to make their own choices (especially with regard to Yota and Moemi). Not to mention that it doesn't entirely resolve all the loose ends in the series. I don't want to spoil anything by giving it away, but I was left yearning for a more "complete" ending.
Video Girl Ai does have some other good points, though. The artwork and animation were pretty good even though the colors weren't overly vivid. The music was generally pleasing to listen to with nice opening and closing themes. And following each episode is a bonus "Omake" (extra) section featuring either short comedic bits or live interviews.
If you're a fan of romantic comedies, shoujo dramas, and such, then you'll probably enjoy Video Girl Ai. Containing decent character designs, a dash of comedy, and solid drama, this series can be quite enjoyable at times. The lackluster ending and unbalanced character development, however, keeps Video Girl Ai from being as good as it should have been.
The Verdict: * * * 1/2 (above average)
|last modified: 05-26-03||The Anime Critic and associated content © 1999-2003 Pete Harcoff. All rights reserved.|