Once again, I’m dipping my toe into the pool of harem anime and I’m still very much against the genre as most of it is just unfunny, uninspired, sophomoric and juvenile shows about what annoying girl gets to be with some generic guy and the dumb-ass antics they go through. I may come out as being cynical towards it but yet I got every reason to and I don’t know about this one, as I don’t feel that cynical towards this title mainly because of its story. So what is it about, you ask? Oh, did I mention that the title in English is actually called Bluer than Indigo?
Kaoru Hanabishi, a college student who lives alone, met a beautiful but bewildered girl dressed in kimono at train station. He volunteered to guide her way to the address she was looking for, which looked like in his neighborhood but turned out to be an empty lot. Not knowing what to do next, Kaoru invited the devastated girl to his apartment and asked for additional clue — a photo with two children whom Kaoru immediately identified as himself and Aoi Sakuraba, his childhood friend. It turned out that the girl in front of him is Aoi Sakuraba herself, his betrothed fiancée who came all the way to Tokyo to marry him. Her revelation was not only surprising but also reminded the deepest part of Kaoru’s memory for why he left the Hanabishi family in the first place.
Well, what can I say? The romance between Aoi and Kaoru is really the heart of the show and I was really rooting for those two to get together and make it last with the drama of their families keeping them apart makes it more interesting, like a rendition of a classic love story……….
BUT………unfortunately, as the series starts strong, it limps into almost Love Hina/any harem category when the main plot is sidestepped by the additional characters of the story. I get that reason for their existence is that Kaoru can have someone as family to him considering his mother abandoned him and his family kicked him out of his home and I would be fine with that, if the characters weren’t just the basic harem archetypes…but then again, it could be worse.
Also, I’m impressed with how long they kept the secret of Aoi & Kaoru being together from the tenants as some other shows would have somebody knowing about it halfway….that or some of the tenants aren’t that bright.
But like I said, the only interesting characters in the show are Aoi and Kaoru and yet, there are some things that I don’t like about them. For example, Aoi is about as adorable as a character can be, but she is more like an otaku’s waifu dream and that’s not a good thing. She’s more of a fantasy self-insert character that only wants to be that guy’s wife and nothing more. Kaoru is the more reserved character but not the generic passive, simpering moron you see in most harem shows although that does lead to the next problem of why so many of the girls in the show are attracted to him. First, there’s the token American character Tina Foster, the very energetic and loud character whom loves animals, drinking a lot of booze, and can often play grabby hands once it comes to Taeko, the accident-prone and ditzy bespectacled girl who’s only purpose in the anime is being either cosplay fetish…..oh, did I forget to mention that she has big breasts? Miyabi, Aoi’s bodyguard, is the one character who at first, I thought I would hate but actually she’s one of the better characters of the show….well, her and the pet ferret. Mayu, the prodigy, is the worst offender of them all as she is the most annoying character of the show, up to Love Hina levels, as she keeps going on and on about being with Kaoru and often fights with Tina, which makes her more bearable in comparison and last is Chika, Taeko’s cousin, who looks up to Kaoru as an older brother, but thankfully, not in a creepy way.
The animation by J.C. Staff is very artsy in its own way. The scenery is like what most amateur painters would want to capture in their own canvas. There were a few mishaps in some parts of it, mostly the gag-based animation, but it still holds to being alright. The music is sweet and gentle as the show fits although the opening and ending themes do nothing for me other than skip through them.
The Pioneer (Geneon) / Bang Zoom dub was more of a miss than hit. Michelle Ruff as Aoi was convincing enough to enjoy it and Dave Wittenberg was listenable as Kaoru but Wendee Lee’s portrayal of Tina Foster was just unbearably obnoxious and grating as she tries to sound like a drunken Texan; Karen Strassman (or Kirsty Pape) and Sue Beth Arden’s performances were a bit too high with their voices and mostly irritating, coming from Strassman’s performance. There is also an unrecognizable Kari Wahlgren (Kay Jensen) as Chika and honestly, I thought it was some other actress doing that voice….and I checked the VA’s of this show beforehand.
FINAL VERDICT: The show does feel like another harem clone in the making if it weren’t for the romantic love story angle that kept the show from being bad, but you should give the show a chance to look at before judgment.
Is this show more blue or indigo? WATCHABLE – 7/10
And until then, I’m MAK2.0 aka The Hybrid, bringing all the elements in one format.
AI YORI AOSHI – animation by J.C. STAFF / distributed by FUNimation Entertainment
The story line is a rather interesting version of Romeo and Juliet almost. A boy who isn’t liked because he denounced his name and a girl who wishes nothing more then to be with him even against her parents wishes. It’s a rather romantic story, and then they have to add everyone else into the mix and well, we get this. Not to say this show is bad, its just… it gets dull after a while with pretty much every trick in the book being done to keep the two apart from roommates that get in a way to time they have separated from each other and even the family problems. I’m happy it’s not a slice of life in a school (and it’s not… technically…) but it sure feels like one. I most of the time wanted to bash a couple heads together and yell ‘GET TO THE POINT!’ but yet, I have to sit through some of the slowest moving pieces until someone finally gets to a punchline and then I feel myself sitting there sometimes asking ‘how the heck did that happen and where was the fun?’ I do have to mention now that this is one of my favorites of the genre, its just does have a lot of flaws though the good points.
Ai is so adorable though her personality is a little two innocent. She seems way to matter of fact and logical. She also sounds like a broken record in that she keeps going on about becoming his wife. She feels much like a Mary Sue character in that with almost everything she does, she does well and the stuff she isn’t good at is done in a way that makes her more Moe (and now I’m thinking about Konata’s saying from Lucky Star ‘Clumsy is sexy…’) to the point where I just want to smack her. Luckily, she doesn’t go into the realm that I would want her to be attacked by one of the girls from When They Cry, but she sometimes gets close to it.
Kaoru though seems well put together or else it’s because he is around crazy people. Sometimes I even wonder if they put him in the middle of all these crazies just to show how bland he really was. There are times though that I wish he wasn’t so easily pushed into doing things he didn’t want to do or would hurt Ai if she took it the wrong way. Unfortunately, both main characters are actually less interesting then the characters around them and the story just seemed to become dull just because I wanted to learn more about the characters and it wouldn’t let me. The arrange marriage thing is hard for me to think of in the modem day sense and makes me wonder if it actually happens still. There is a lot of fan service in this and it makes me feel really sad because it really didn’t need it!
Now we go into the extras and the reason why I call them extras and not supporting characters is this… they do not support anything. They are there to tear the two main characters apart and bring comedy into what could be even more boring story plot. I think without them, I would never have been able to get into the story. Their fun antics, although annoying at times, made me smile and laugh to break up the tension of a hard core sad areas. I do believe without them, the ending would not be as heart retching as it was because it seemed to have more meaning.
The artwork is so beautiful and shows a lot of detail throughout the show. The backgrounds are rich in detail for the most part but there are times that it looks rather low in contrast. The comical points are really odd looking, where most of the artwork during that time pretty much lacks. The opening is rather nice in following the sweet music for that. But seems almost like Ranma’s opening in how they made it.
The Voices are interesting, and Ai’s seems way too breathy. The English is a little off, almost like it’s a exact translation and I wish they would change it a bit. Some characters were a little creepy in voice and I was a little disappointed in that. The Japanese is alright even if it’s pretty standard for this type of show. The Japanese and English Ai sound very close to each other. It’s a little nice that way but also somewhat bothersome.
The music is so pretty for the opening and closing that I actually looked for the opening music on its own. The other background music is a little to sappy even for the happy moments and sometimes breaks the mood.
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Kaoru is your typical nice male antagonist.The husband & wife complex is pretty interesting and the switch over to a mansion made the oncoming characters flow in really nicely. Theres some amount of humor thats laughable. I liked how most of the 1st season was based around relationship build up for Kaoru and Aoi.