Video Girl Ai (Mania.com)

By:Paulo Vinícius Wolski Radtke
Review Date: Saturday, May 11, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, December 04, 2001



The Review!
To avoid wasting your time reading this review and sending me flame-mail, do this simple test: is "Oh! My Goddess" the best romantic anime ever? If the answer is "yes", you will most likely say that I am nuts and you will waste your time reading this review. This disc is gold for you, so forget all I said here and go straight to your favorite anime retailer and buy VGAi now. If your response is "no" or "one of them, but not the best", then proceed.

The first time I watched Video Girl Ai, I just fell in love with the series. It was about 5 years ago, when this series was already 5 years old. I liked it so much that I ordered the LDs for this series, sadly UCI Bookstore was not able to find the second one (does anyone still remember the UCI Bookstore, where Mike, who now runs TokyoPop, used to work?). 5 years later and after Karekano, which for me is still holding the #1 position on romantic anime, I had the chance to purchase this DVD (one of the few DVDs I have got on a physical store) and see how I would react to it. Yes, this one is a bit old now, but reading this review you will understand.

First, I will deal with the technical issues, later the more fuzzy and personal stuff. The video is faithful to its original release on LD (hey, it was a CAV LD, it looked great), what is better on DVD are the colors, specially as there are lots of pastel colors on this one. It will not become a standard for later comparisons, but it won't let you down. One thing that I think is funny is a glitch that appears at the very ending of the opening sequence, when Ai is seated over a TV. There is a visible glitch a bit above by the vertical middle of the screen, halfway to the side of the screen. Yeah, they where on the LD also, so don't blame Viz for this one. It seems that the glitch is something that happened when they composed the image against the clouds. While old, the quality of the video still shows and the master they used for this one is very good. The only complaint I have is the lack of credit-less opening and ending sequences, as they where nice enough to put the English!
credits OVER the animated portions of the screen. Have you noticed that all Japanese text appears on black portions of the screen, where nothing is going on? Shame on Viz for not overlaying those portions and inserted there the credits, which was not that hard to do.

For audio, it is just plain stereo, which is not bad at all, as most average releases are still using stereo sound tracks. What plays an important role on this one is the musical score. They sure add depth to the scenes and Viz has thankfully translated and subtitled them all for our entertainment.

The extras are nothing outrageous, as Viz has just included a text interview (previously published on Animerica, nothing new here) with the director and character profiles, so nothing impressive. Which is good are the Omake sections at the end of the episodes, which really add fun to the show. Notice that as the series move from the funny towards more serious development, the Omake also shifts accordingly.

Now for what I was mostly worried when I picked this disc. How would I see it now? After all, there where 5 years since the first time I thought this was great and the present moment. And yes, there was Karekano, which I would define, until something better comes out, as the best romantic anime ever done. While I enjoyed watching it again, there are moments on this series that you simply can't help, but get moved by the characters, as well as there are moments that you simply will hate the stereotypical shounen romance. Yes, picture yourself: a girl comes into your room, seats on your bed and you blush and the first thought on your mind is "I want to become the bed". Sounds silly? It can get worse, as when the same girl kisses a Teddy Bear, would you think seriously that you would like to be a Teddy Bear? Of course, these are classical shounen romantic gags, where everything is kept at platonic level, so this is my main complaint about this series, but nothing we can do about !
it, as it is part of the shounen-verse.

Of course, there are many segments that are worth it, especially on episodes 3, 4 and 6, revolving around Ai and Youta. Also, the sequence on the very first episode, when Moemi confess her love is still one of my favorites on the whole series, so it is not all bad stuff, its just that the silly parts stand out a lot, as they gave too much attention to them.

If you ask me if I enjoyed watching it again, I can't deny that I enjoyed. If you asked me if it was worth buying it for the second time, I would for sure say yes (especially as this DVD was less than half the price of ONE of the 3 LDs). If I would buy it again on a new video format, yes. But if I where to rank it for the romantic stuff, well, it sure won't be on my top list, but all in all, VGAi delivers a good viewing experience. While it may be a bit outdated, it is a classical anime that deserves a small space on your shelf.

Omake: on an interview with Masakazu Katsura, the author of the original manga, he gave an explanation on the inspiration for Ai coming out of the TV when playing a video. It's based on an "Amazing Stories" episode, where a woman comes out of an old photo. He made her to come out of a video because he wanted to make it more updated.



Review Equipment
JVC AV-27230 (component in), Sony Playstation 2



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: C+
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 180
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Video Girl Ai