Video Girl Ai
A Parent's Guide to Anime
Parental Guidance Advised
Reviewed by Don Kreipke:
A six installment video adaptation of the manga that has the same title. A multiple-personality anime, it starts as a romantic comedy, moves to a romantic drama, then finishes as a romantic tragedy. The set likewise undergoes a shift from modern Japan at the beginning to a surrealistic dimension of time and space at the end.
The protagonists are teenagers, and the video concerns itself with their relationships. The story begins when a teen-age video character (Ai) gets drawn into the world when a teen-age boy (Youta) plays the video on a defective VCR. Complications develop as Ai falls in love with Youta, who is in love with another girl, who in turn is in love with Youta's best friend.
Parent's Guide Rating:
yellow (parental guidance advised)
The video is wholly non-violent, although protagonist Youta's feet do sustain some rather nasty lacerations from a glass staircase in the surreal videoland at the ending.
Sexual content is moderate, with some female nudity expressed in a low-grade sexual or non-sexual context. Some examples: 1) protagonist Ai taking a shower (very typical way for anime to portray female nudity); 2) a sequence where a bare-chested Ai presses herself against Youta's back as he's talking on the phone (he freaks!); 3) some humorous dialogue where Ai complains about the size of her breasts (they shrank in transit from the video world to the real world), 4) a sequence where Ai falsely claims to have sprouted male genitalia, and Youta tactilely checks it out).
An adult situation occurs throughout the story, in that Ai and Youta reside together, in the absence of Youta's parents, who are away on an extended business trip. In the manga, despite this arrangement, the two teenagers never have sexual relations. However, this fact, which is an important aspect of the manga is not apparent in the video. Nothing actually happens on screen, but much is left to the imagination.
These aspects are minor, however, as the main focus of the story is on the relationships between the protagonists themselves, who are uniformly good, even admirable.
Although it begins as a comedy, Video Girl Ai ultimately examines an important concern of young people maturing into adulthood: the difference between love and infatuation.
Aside comments: One of the most depressing dang anime that I've ever seen: no one dies, but the protagonists either never learn from their mistakes or, if they do, it's too late. However, the anime is really just a short segment from the manga, which has a wholly upbeat ending.
The characters are irresistible. Most parents would give significant body parts away to have teen-agers who are as nice as the characters in this OVA.