Video Girl Ai Review

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“Twinkling starlight beyond the horizon, how many miles will one cross just for its shadow.”

First Love, a phase of life that stays in our heart for eternity. A core memory as such. Some are fortunate enough to hold it, some find a soulmate to overcome or aid those memories and for some, it stays as a scar. As the anime industry is overflooded with love stories, there are some stories that have proven themselves worthy and powerful enough to surpass all criticism. One of them is the story Video Girl AI that deals with universal topics such as unrequited love and loneliness.

Anime Details:

  • Video Girl Ai (Den’ei Shoujo Video Girl Ai)
  • AniDB Rating (Average): 7.35 (1769 users)
  • 6 episodes OVA with a duration of 29 min per episode
  • Rated: R+ mild nudity
  • Produced by: Shueisha, Production I.G
  • Genres: comedy, drama, ecchi, romance

Overview

A typical start with a high-school student Youta in love with a classmate Moemi, who happens to like Youta’s best friend, Takashi. Things get spicier when a video girl (named Ai) comes out of a television screen and into Youta’s life.

Story

The story is a dinner table with spice and wine and a desert at the end. Released in 1992 and brought stateside in 1999 by VIZ media, it can’t help but speak to us at a personal level. It is less of a love triangle and more of a single chain of personal frustration that revolves around our MC’s inner monologs. Each episode makes us crave for more yet our heart feels warmth and satisfaction enough to refuse. It’s simple, heartwarming and plays with emotions, delivering bits of sadness between a rollercoaster of comedy and adultery. With no driving plot, it elects to follow a day-to-day story structure, surrounding the character and little glees of life that mount themselves into issues, dealing with Youta coming to his senses about how he actually feels and what Ai really means to him.

What’s a video girl?

Before diving into the characters, first thing you should know is what is a “video girl”?

According to the story, they are girls that come out of video cassettes when the owner plays them, and they are supposed to be comforting, nubile, excellent cooks and socially graceful; but in the story the titular character of the series, Ai, turns out to be different than the intended product due to a malfunction.

Characters

Our story revolves around only four characters and two side characters. Each character has a different vibe than the other and they all are somehow equally important to the story. Their presence creates volume to a plot that can easily fall flat on its face. Character designs are well-done and perfectly balanced.

Youta Moteuchi (Sympathy):

It’s not often that someone can shed tears for a friend especially when they themselves are suffering from heartbreak. — Manager

Youta’s heart is a pit of sympathy that welcomes suffering, which is also a “lady-killer” according to Ai. Youta could’ve very easily been another whiny simpering idiot tossed upon the garbage heap of the other idiots that the anime is crammed with. But it’s his selflessness of helping Moemi that speaks volumes of his moral fiber. As many parts of our lives where we conceive our feelings in lies, Youta does the same. He always gives priority to others over his own personal desires. And that’s something many watchers can relate to or at the very least find very appealing. A simple-minded, strong-willed person with an optimistic behavior is our Youta.

Ai Amano (Optimism):

She may look domesticated, but she’s a killer. — Youta

A 4-dimensional projection made in Quantum, Ai is an artificial intelligence designed to help heartbroken persons in need. The story indicates that her personality was designed as caring as a mother, irritating as a friend and loving as a soulmate. Though a malfunction in her Codex changed her physical appearance and suggested signs of anger, pain, seduction and love and most of all empathy towards others, which is very unlikely for that of an AI. She’s cute, sassy and has a charm capable of melting any heart. A brash temperament and playful mischievousness are what make her more entertaining.

Moemi Hayakawa (Innocent Cruelty):

Sometimes I wished I loved you instead. — Moemi

Highschool girls are overdramatic, and the anime captures these teenage notions through Moemi. She may appear to be a shy and kindhearted girl, but many times throughout the series we get to see her self-centered “silver spoon princess” attitude. Moemi is a total opposite of Youta. These types of girls shuffle with guys to find the best, leaving many hearts broken in the process. But the worst part is, she even tries to convince them to think of her as a nice person.

She demands everything at once, Takashi’s charm to Youta’s kindness. She’s even as envious as one can get. Though, I must say there are some hints that her actions are more than what they seems.

Takashi Niimai (Nullness):

Takashi is a smart, kindhearted, charming character who takes friendship very seriously. Though we never get to see his thoughts and beliefs, he’s there to reflect the viewers’ point of judgment. He takes Moemi as his girlfriend just to make Youta jealous and get Moemi to hate him.

The final moment

Throughout the episodes there is not a single ounce of gore yet in the last episode in that one scene alone there is enough blood for an entire episode of Berserk. In those moments Youta act as a proxy for audience creating a metaphorical path to illustrate that following your heart can be painful but is worth it. The execution hits extremely hard. Youta’s near excruciating pain can be felt. This highlight of the show saves the anime from being just a straight up wish-fulfillment.

Thoughts and references

The plot is kind of similar to Weird Science. The anime is based on a 13-volume manga by Masakazu Katsura with the same name. Though they didn’t adopt all of the story and the ending was their original. Still, it suited completely and gave the perfect conclusive ending it deserves, staying truthful to the source.

The story tries to illustrate the joy in moments. One doesn’t need happiness of a lifetime but some moments of ultimate satisfaction.

Minor spoiler:

Being with Ai, Youta has similar feelings. And when that was taken from him, he became uneasy and went through an extreme amount of pain to get it back.

“No man is an island but when there’s no one around, you’re drowning.” — Rolex quotes John Donne

Animation

Directed by Mizuho Nishikubo, the animation is a straightforward old-style CEL animation with nothing to highlight. Artistic as much as the budget let it to be. Though it would be wrong to not mention that the very first scene of the first episode and the second half of the last episode have a high pace and a well-balanced animation and designing. Something Production I.G. is well-known for.

Sound

Music pieces are compiled with variety, from heartbeats to the disruptive mind. The soundtracks are absolutely charming, something you can enjoy over time again and again.

Your RainbowFrozen Flower and Ai Love You are mesmerizing. And the opening song is an original presentation of melodies. Just click here and see for yourself.

Voice acting:

  1. Ai Amano by Megumi Hayashibara
  2. Youta Moteuchi by Takeshi Kusao
  3. Moemi Hayakawa by Yuri Amano
  4. Takashi Niimai by Kouji Tsujitani

Personal thoughts

Video Girl Ai is based on philosophical presentism. A point of view where neither the future nor the past exists. This type of view is extended to timeless objects or ideas. As Saint Augustine proposed that the present is analogous to a knife-edge placed exactly between the perceived past and the imaginary future and does not include the concept of time. The show tries to portray those views through the concept of moments.

Many times in the series we get to see how little things can make someone burst in joy or tears. Like the time when Youta ate all the cooking Ai made for him but kept hidden. Ai was so happy when she sees Youta eating all the food she made. We live in this world for many purposes we bound ourselves into. If our life ends at any moment, it will still hold meaning. Holding Ai in his wounded arms Youta experienced the same. Love can make a man blind and overwhelmed with emotions. Some find these behaviors idiotic and illogical. But is it truly wrong?

The show asks those questions in a very personal manner. This is a story you may not hear of very often and may not find unique or original at first to continue, but once you do, it would be worth it.

“It was only for a moment, no more than a heartbeat really. There was just me and Ai, and that was just fine. When the moment was over, because it was just a moment, the world returned to normal. And that was fine too.”

The_Lazarus

Lazarus, with his solid and in-depth writing skills, is one of our newest members. He will be focussing on a multitude of subjects and we're sure his deep knowledge of the disciple will be reflected in all his pieces.