Mania Grade: A-
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: B-
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: A-
- Extras Rating: A-
- 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
Video Girl Ai
By Morgan Law
May 11, 2002
Release Date: December 04, 2001
Video Girl Ai. A story about romance. A boy loves a girl. This girl loves his best friend. A classic love triangle. Insert Ai, and you got one of the better romantic and heartwarming stories ever. Going into this DVD with no previous experience with manga, just pure word of mouth around the AoD forum and some of my friends, and it lived up and exceeded my high expectations!
:: [ Video ] ::
A lot of small specks appearing throughout the six episodes with minor pixelation on scenes which becomes annoying at first. For a split-second, one big dab of white 'speck' during episode 1 after Takashi throws a drink to Yota. After a while the small dots and specks that appear aren't as annoying but still quite noticeable. Colors go the middle way, some scenes are lust and full of color, while others scenes are very dull and should be more saturated. Overall, a decent video transfer, with only a few setbacks that need improvement.
:: [ Audio ] ::
I listened to the Japanese track. After watching all the episodes in Japanese, I went back and watched the last episode in English. The Japanese track is standard, nothing wrong. On the other hand, the English track is a bit little lower volume, a little muffled and has less directional sound. At some scenes, with the Japanese track, the background song is noticeable while on the English it is barely. Also the dub is done pretty well, no out of placed voices and Ai's voice is cheerful and cute.
:: [ Packaging ] ::
The cover features Ai in the foreground, with Yota and Moemi faded in the background. Also, Takashi is covered by the Chinese character of 'electricity' and the 'V' in the Video Girl Ai. The cover is not the most eye-catching, but very appropriate. Why the blonde hair and brown eyes? I don't know the answer, but I think she looks better with it. Her grey hair and blue eyes are better suited for the anime though. Oddly, at the back she is featured with the blue eyes and dirty blonde hair. The insert is the exact same as the front cover, and if you open it up, there is a little history of the manga's creator, Katsura, and a very brief manga and anime comparison. As the front cover was, a very appropriate packaging for Video Girl Ai. As for the keepcase, oddly enough, I think a white keepcase would look nicer with this. Though white cases are rare nowadays, the black looks different with this disc.
:: [ Menu ] ::
The menu features the static of a television as the background, with a few small TVs showing Ai stripping. If that doesn't sell, then what will? The music that is playing is the ending theme. The music and scenes of Ai would reset after a while of playing. Menu transferring is quick and simple. Though the whole font scheme bothered me, the menus are, again appropriate for the DVD.
:: [ Extras ] ::
Extras included are the character profile, 21 pages of text interview with the director and after the first 5 episodes, a special Bonus 'Omake' Theatre which was also included in the VHS. The character profile provides some information about the four main characters and the two characters which are later introduced. The profile is short and brief and do not give out any spoilers. The 21 page interview is about director's thoughts on Video Girl Ai's manga and anime popularity. As mentioned above, the font really bothered me so I skimped through the pages quickly. The Bonus 'Omake' Theatres that play after the first five episodes are hilarious. The funniest was when they show "Why Japanese anime uses proper English grammar?", both on the English/Japanese audio and English subtitles. After episode 4, there is a short interview with the art director and he speaks about the manga animation. After episode 5, we have a short interview with the singer of the ending theme. The!
Bonus 'Omake' Theatres are a very nice touch, and hilarious!
:: [ Content] ::
"For those of the brokenhearted only". The first scene of the anime focuses on this quote which is actually the beginning of the VHS, Video Girl Ai, which Yota rented. After we get our first glance at Ai, who is stating her purpose to the person who rented the tape, Yota Moteuchi. A thoughtful boy, Yota is secretly in love with his friend at school, Moemi. Though Moemi is in love with Takashi, Yota's best friend. Takashi is your average guy, popular with the girls and plays for a band. Though Moemi is too shy to tell Takashi, because she thinks he doesn't love her back, which he doesn't, she tells all her feelings about him to Yota. Takashi, knowing Yota loves Moemi, tries to help them get together, but in the end, Moemi admits to Takashi of her love. Takashi declines, saying Moemi is not the type of girl he likes. Moemi walks away, showing no emotion towards this physically, but is obvious hurt on the inside.
Heartbroken and in turmoil, Yota walks home and 'accidentally' passes by a video store he never noticed before. 'Gokuodo Video Store' has a large variety of videos, and the store recommends Video Girl Ai to Yota. When Yota gets home, which empty, because his father is always on long road trips, he plays the VHS on his VCR. After Ai introduces herself, she literally leaps out of the television, and into Yota's bedroom. But due to Yota playing the tape on a broken VCR, Ai comes out different than she was on screen. Amazingly, her breasts have become smaller and personality is that of a more genuine girl. At first Yota is in disbelief, until Ai cheerfully plays around with his emotions because Yota has never had a girl before.
As the episodes continue, we slowly see the sweet things that Yota does for Ai that cause her to fall in love with him. "Video girls don't fall in love" but because of the broken VCR, this cause Ai to have feelings of a human.
The ending is both hard to watch but a must watch. As Yota is stuck with ultimatum between Moemi and Ai, the ending is hard to watch but a must see. At the very end, it is for viewer to judge what exactly happens. It leaves many questions or in another view, gives a clear ending. Just watch it and you will see yourself.
If everyone loves Video Girl Ai so much, why am I the first one to write the first alternate review for AoD since the release in December? The DVD presentation is well-done and the content is amazing. Video Girl Ai revolves around one boy's love, with a complex love triangle, bits of jealously, determination, friendship and hope. Though I heard Katsura's manga is much better since the length is much greater, the 6 OAVs covers the story pretty decently and as the insert said, "the animated series has its own definite 'ending'. An excellent addition to my collection and will certainly make me search for the manga. Though the animation is a bit outdated, if you like romance with some comedy Video Girl Ai will surely not disappoint.
27" JVC Television, Pioneer DV-444 Interlaced (Secondary Equipment: Compaq DVD-ROM GD-2000, 17" Color Monitor, Matrox 32mb G400, JBL Pro Speakers, WinDVD 3.0)