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Ai Yori Aoshi #5: With All My Heart PDF Print E-mail
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R1 DVD Reviews
Thursday, 17 December 2009 00:00
Ai Yori AoshiAi Yori Aoshi reaches the end of its first season, and throws some of its most touching episodes in just to make sure fans of the love-story side of the show don't have anything to complain about. Unfortunately, that's the last of that sort of episode as the second season swung firmly towards the harem side of the show, so enjoy 'em while you can...

21 - Influenza
Aoi's tenants discover just how much she does around the house when she catches a dose of the 'flu. Everyone else is worried about her and determined to help her get well again as soon as possible - but try as they might to fill her shoes while she's laid up in bed, they just can't handle running the house without her, until they put their heads together & figure out who's best at what...

FaintedHaving a moment

22 - Going Home
Kaoru takes Aoi to meet his mother - or to see her grave, at least. It's his way of showing that he's serious about her, and a gesture she appreciates immensely. Later, Aoi gets summoned back home by her father - she insists it's only for the day, but Miyabi seems worried by the summons. When Aoi doesn't return when she promised to, Kaoru begins to have strong feelings that he's lost her. When Miyabi finally returns - without Aoi - she asks him to come with her, without saying where to. On the way, she explains how she initially hated him over the way Aoi seemed to care only for him, but now feels she must protect their relationship...

Prayers for the departedWorry

23 - Determination
Kaoru's roadtrip continues - he's being taken to see Aoi. The two of them reminisce about the past & enjoy their time together, before Aoi finally explains that her father has arranged a new marriage partner for her. If she obeys her father's instructions, this may be the last time she sees Kaoru. Meanwhile, back at the house, the rest of the residents are wondering where Kaoru, Aoi & Miyabi have disappeared to...

Younger daysScars

24 - Aoi
Rather than run away, Kaoru & Aoi decide to face down her father, and ask Miyabi to take them to the Sakuraba house. Once there, it's up to Kaoru to present himself & his argument for staying with Aoi. It's not easy for him, though - his value to the Sakuraba family lay in his connections with the Hanabishi's, and now that he's severed his ties with them, he's in many ways no better than a commoner in the eyes of Aoi's father. Can he hold on to the person most dear to him, over the objections of her family?

FamilyTogether

As an added bonus, this disc also includes a 5-minute short, Speaking of Dreams - I think it was originally a TV special - in which the gang talk about their dreams for the future while out viewing the cherry-blossoms. It's a short insight into the minds of the characters - nothing deep or meaningful, just a treat for the fans, who generally like this sort of thing. While I'm glad it's on the disc, I wouldn't have thrown a tantrum if it hadn't appeared (although I may be in a minority on that..!).

The gang's all hereInterruption

As for the main content on the disc, this is more like it - even the 'fluff' episode of the disc, Influenza, is deeper than most of the recent episodes have been. While it focusses on the housemates more than Aoi & Kaoru, it's done in a much more sober & less fanservice-laden way than is usual. Then, for the final 3 episodes, we're back to the heavy focus on Aoi and Kaoru, which I know will make many fans very happy. It certainly worked for me.

While there is a sequel series, AYA does have a satisfactory ending in its own right, in that Aoi & Kaoru have stood up to the Sakuraba family & ensured that their relationship has a future that's within their control, and as a fan that's about the best that could have been hoped for from a series where the manga that it's based on was still running at the time it was made.

If I was to criticise, I'd say that fans of shounen romance could almost get away with watching discs 1 & 5 only and skipping the rest of the series - those 2 discs almost tell a self-contained story - but that would be doing a dis-service to the rest of the show. Many people hate it for its reliance on fanservice and slapstick comedy, but it does what it sets out to do really well, and I enjoyed it for that. That means it's generally recommended, with a caveat for people who don't like schizophrenic shows - AYA doesn't quite know if it's a comedy or a romance. It does a damn good job of being both, but if you find either aspect to be a turn-off, I understand it can get quite infuriating. You have been warned.

Rating - ****

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