Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi Vol. #2 (also w/figures) - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98/39.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Ai Yori Aoshi

Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi Vol. #2 (also w/figures)

By Chris Beveridge     August 16, 2004
Release Date: September 07, 2004


Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi Vol. #2 (also w/figures)
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
All is well at the Sakuraba mansion as summer approaches. Kaoru is talked into going on a date with Mayu, whose nervousness makes for a hilarious time! At school, however, Kaoru is in a bind! He must finish his report if he wants a summer vacation. This gives all of the other members of the household an opportunity to spoil him with treats and a celebration when he completes his report.

The whole gang decides to go on vacation together, which is a perfect chance for a road trip. When they arrive, who should they bump into but Mayu, on vacation with her family. While there, everyone participate in lots of swimming and frolicking... what could be better?

The Review!
Intermingling with thoughts on the future, four more tales from the Enishi series works towards giving the cast more time to show who they really are.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series features a very good stereo mix that mostly takes advantage with the music and the ambient sound effects to provide a good experience. The show seems to provide a lot more depth and feeling to it than the first season did and we ended up cranking this up a fair bit more than most normal shows to enjoy it all the more. Dialogue is crisp and clear throughout both language tracks and the music comes across great here.

Video:
Originally airing in 2003, this series is presented in its original full screen aspect ratio and is simply stunning. The first season was one of those shows that had taken the color palette and really made it come alive and look incredible vibrant. This season manages to outshine that one by a fair amount and has simply blown me away. From the opening to the ending, I can't get over how lush and gorgeous these colors are, both in the foreground character animation and in the background designs. They're so full and solid, free of cross coloration and aliasing, that it's just a treat to see it like this. The presentation definitely affects how you take in the show and Enishi's presentation is stunning.

Packaging:
Giving some of the secondary characters a chance to shine, the cover for this release lets Chika and her swim team friends show off their young underage skin while Aoi sneaks in on the side to ensure that she's on every cover in some fashion. Her uniform doesn't match the traditional school bathing suits but I don't think many will be complaining. In keeping with the style, the original logo is kept along the bottom as well as the romaji version of it while the volume numbering is up higher and on the spine as well. The back cover gives half of its space to a sizeable cast shot with the summary over it as well as a few smaller images before going into the various production and technical information about the release. The episode numbers and titles are also provided here, making it easy to determine which volume is which. The insert starts off with a number of small images showing pieces from the episodes on this volume while the chapter stops line down the right side of it. The insert opens to a two-panel shot of Aoi laying on her side on the floor while parts of her kimono drape down around her. The back of the insert has some information on Geneon set to a fun image of Tina doing some photography stuff. This release also has a reversible cover in the black keepcase, with the alternate cover being a shot of Mayu in one of her fancy dresses standing next to Aoi in an orange and yellow kimono.

Menu:
The menu design is nicely done with a booklet for the main central image where the selections are lined up over while around it you have various pictures of the girls. There's some quiet sounding instrumental music playing along to the falling of the small green leaves over the menu as well. It's all very simple and very much in-theme to the show. The menu layout is very easy to navigate and access times are fast and problem free. The disc read our player presets correctly but went with the first English subtitle track which was signs and subtitles and not the full translated track to match to the Japanese language it loaded correctly.

Extras:
The only included extra in this volume, something that wasn't even on the first volume, is a clean version of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the manga still ongoing for this series I believe, I certainly don't expect any sort of real progress in terms of the relationships for the show. While they may play around with it a bit, add a bit more seriousness to some moments and get the leads closer together, the fun of the show is built into the escapades and misunderstandings of those around Kaoru and Aoi who don't know the real deal. Take that away and focus just on the two and, well, you'd have one hell of a show that we thought we were getting back in the first series.

The theme for the Enishi series continues to be pushed here and there in these episodes where Miyabi is trying to discern exactly what Kaoru is planning to do with his life and how that'll impact Aoi. While Aoi's mother has given her tacit approval for the time being, especially since Aoi was actually forceful for once in her life, there must still be plenty of things that can come up to keep them from really achieving true happiness. The fact that they're still having a hard time getting in the occasional kiss or snuggle while living with everyone is simple proof of that. So while the future looms as something to be taken into consideration, these episodes don't go outright down that path but instead slide it in there while giving in to a more timely focus, that of the bonds of the characters.

Two of the characters I care the least for get some face time in this volume and while they didn't exactly wow me, they didn't get me to lower my opinion of them even further. One episode brings Mayu back into focus as her mother has sent her from Paris a one of a kind dress she made specifically for her to wear, a very simple but effective summer dress. Since she's only got one real focus in life, she decides to get Kaoru to take her out on a date so she can show it off. While Kaoru gets "roped" into it through his bout of wimpiness, the date itself is actually rather well done since Mayu is so completely clueless on how to date but manages to avoid the overactive and hyperactive things she could have done to compensate. What the episode ends up doing is really showing just how empty Mayu really is, even though they do giver her a something-special to have. The character just has so little to her.

Chiaki also gets something of an episode to expand upon with as she and her schoolmates deal with a change to their swimming club. While believing that they were the only three involved and just practiced and had fun, they suddenly find themselves being involved in an upcoming relay competition. One of the girls is horribly bad at swimming, to the point where she really can't do it at all never mind the twenty five meters in competition she's going to need to do. So they search out for a coach who can help them at least stay competitive. As it turns out, Tina was something of an excellent swimmer back during her time in high school in the US and offers to help them out. This almost floors everyone since it doesn't come across as something that she'd really have the patience for. She's at least got the buoyancy... While Chiaki is sort of the initial lead to this episode, she serves more as a conduit for Tina to be a teacher and to work with one particular student that isn't a regular and present a rather uplifting episode all told, especially as it was watched in between some of the swimming related events at the 2004 Summer Olympics.

The only real downside to the volume is that Kaoru and Aoi really don't get a lot of time together. The episode that has them running off to a summer resort with everyone else for a getaway gives them some time but they play up the coincidence factor and get Mayu up there as well. While she redeemed herself a bit earlier she goes right back to type here and is just annoying once more. Probably one of the best aspects of this episode is with Taeko as she offers to drive up in a rental car with most of cast since she's the only one other than Miyabi to have a license. This turns into a shocker in general and there's fear just based on her clumsiness, but Taeko is actually a master driver ? but one that was brought up on driving through video games. There's some amusing little plays that come across as Initial D maneuvers but overall it's just a really fun sequence that gives her a slightly different edge to her personality.

In Summary:
Enishi is continuing on much as I had figured it would from the first volume which means that if you've liked the cast and don't expect much from the real romance, you'll enjoy this fairly well. The usual trappings make it into this volume including an open air hot spring so there aren't any real surprises. One of the continuing appeals for it through is that it for the most part avoids the truly hyperactive and overly unrealistic actions and activities of the characters, so there's no massive violence or psychic or spiritual events moving things along. While the romance between Aoi and Kaoru is moving at a snails pace, it's at least moving and they've admitted their feelings, which places this series far ahead of many others of its ilk.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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