Based upon the manga by Kou Fumizuki
Directed by Masami Shimoda
Music by Toshio Masuda
- Bonus episode
- Reversible cover
Dindrane’s Anime Warnings:
- Panty shots
- Animated boobage
- Gratuitous male fantasies
- Cranky parental units
- Spoiled rich girls
- Sugar and spice and everything nice
Released by: Geneon
Anamorphic: N/A; episodes appear in their original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Check it out.
[ad#longpost]It has been two years since that fateful day when Kaoru first came to live with Aoi as her arranged fiancé. Since then, Aoi and Kaoru have come to truly love each other, as we saw at the end of the first season of Ai Yori Aoshi, but with her parents still objecting to the match–since Kaoru disowned his family–they must keep their love a secret, not only from her parents, but from everyone else who lives in the mansion. Kaoru is now a graduate student in college, and the pressure of success in the academic realm is added to the pressure of succeeding as a boyfriend, a friend, and a future businessman.
One of the strengths of the first season continues here in the second, the relationship between Aoi and Kaoru, which is refreshingly quick to proceed, unlike other “will they or won’t they” anime series. All of the show’s characters, even the ones tainted by a bit of cliché, are well-done and rounded. For example, Kaoru has real reasons for turning his back on the wealth and position of his family, reasons that are unusual in such a light-hearted and lovely romance. Aoi is similarly deep; she may seem a merely sweet, spineless traditional girl, but she has a lot of strength. We also get the traditional under-age, slightly annoying, precocious brat–this time in the person of Chika. However, as the title of the second series suggests, they are all tied together by “enishi,” the bonds that connect everyone with affection and support. These complex relationships are the focus of this disc, and of the series in general. The episodes take turns focusing on different characters, but always come back to how they all work together and form a family. We may have the typical girls fighting over the hapless boy, but at least Kaoru is much more complex and less annoying than Tenchi.
The visual quality is outstanding. The colors are bright where they should be bright, and watercolor-soft where the mood calls for it. This is a recent series, and the quality of the digital transfer shows it. The sound is similarly problem-free. Both language tracks are also blessed with competent casts who understand their characters and get into providing real personalities via their voices. Ranma 1/2 fans will be especially charmed by the English voice of Tina–none other than fan favorite Wendee Lee.
The special features list is limited to a bonus, fifteen-minute episode entitled “Miyuki.” It’s a kind of revisionary episode that has Aoi and Kaoru spending a Christmas Day together before they reunited in the first episode of season one, after having known each other as tots.
In short, if you liked the first season of Ai Yori Aoshi, then you’ll be even more pleased with the start of the second season. These episodes are all on par with the best episodes of the first season. Anyone who likes romance, gentle tales that aren’t terribly saccharine, and light comedies should check this out; there’s a character personality to suit any viewer: academic Miyabi; reliable Taeko; Tina, the American who wants to be Japanese…and so on. When you’re weary of our post-Post-Modern world, this is just the ticket–not too sweet, but just sweet enough. Between the cherry blossom pie, the sturdy friendships, and the fan service, this just might become your new guilty pleasure.