Ai Yori Aoshi is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Kou Fumizuki. The manga was serialized in Hakusensha’s Young Animal magazine from 1999 to 2005 and the chapters collected into 17 tankōbon volumes. It is a love story between two characters who have not seen each other in years, but were once childhood friends.
An anime television series adaptation was animated by J.C.Staff and directed by Masami Shimoda, with Kenichi Kanemaki handling series composition, Kazunori Iwakura designing the characters and Toshio Masuda composing the music. The anime was broadcast on Fuji TV in 2002. A second season titled Ai Yori Aoshi: Enishi was set two years later and aired in 2003. There are 37 episodes total, counting an alternate-continuity Christmas special. The anime was released in North America by Geneon and the manga was released in English by Tokyopop. Four visual novels were also released for the PlayStation 2 and Windows 98.
An anime television series adaptation animated by J.C.Staff, written by Kenichi Kanemaki, and directed by Masami Shimoda premiered on Fuji TV from April 10, 2002, to September 25, 2002, spanning twenty-four episodes. Most of the music for the series was composed by Toshio Masuda. Three pieces of theme music were used in the anime series. “Towa no Hana” performed by Yoko Ishida is the opening theme. “Na mo Shirenu Hana” performed by The Indigo is the ending theme used for all the episodes except one; “I’ll Be Home” performed by Satsuki Yukino is the ending theme for eighteenth episode. In Japan, it was released across eight Region 2 DVD compilation volumes. The anime was licensed by Geneon for an English-dubbed release in North America.
A second season titled Ai Yori Aoshi: Enishi aired from October 12, 2003, to December 28, 2003, spanning twelve episodes. The second season of anime adaptation uses three pieces of theme music. “Takaramono”performed by Yoko Ishida is the opening theme. “I Do!” is the first ending theme performed by The Indigo. “Presence” performed by The Indigo is the second ending theme. The series was released across three Region 2 DVD compilations in Japan. Geneon also licensed the second season in North America for an English-dubbed release.
A fifteen-minute OVA known variously as “Episode 00”, “Beautiful Snow”, and “Enishi Christmas Special” was released on September 26, 2003. The special was dubbed and released in English on the first North American Enishi DVD release.
At Anime Expo 2010, Funimation announced that they had licensed both seasons, and re-released them in 2011. Funimation released the complete series under the Anime Classics label in July 2012.
KID Corp. published a PlayStation 2 video game based on the series in 2003, and was released in English for Windows PCs by Hirameki International. That game was re-released in 2005 by SUCCESS Corporation with bonus footage and mini-games.
The first anime season had mixed reviews from people. It has also been described however as a “split personality” anime as half of it wants to be a serious, dramatic romance with a dash of comedy and the other half wants to be a One Guy/Lots of Girls slapstick harem show. Despite that the artwork has been labeled as “stunning” with its artwork and the theme music got a good review.
- The male protagonist of the series. Kaoru is a fairly average person and he does not fit the mold of the stereotypical male protagonist in most harem anime series; for instance, he does not struggle with his studies, nor is he prone to emotional outbursts. He is generally well liked and is a member of the photography club at Meiritsu University. He resents the Hanabishi clan for their inhumane treatment of himself and his mother, which was due in turn to that clan’s disapproval of his parents’ relationship. Kaoru’s mother and father never married, and he was an illegitimate child. His back is scarred from when he was tortured with bamboo cane for trying to prevent his grandfather from burning mementos of his dead mother. After exiling himself from the Hanabishi clan, Kaoru has led an average, if not lonely, life. When Aoi arrives, he is, at first, perplexed at her visit, not remembering almost anything prior. The idea of marriage takes him aback, but very quickly likes, and even looks forward to it. Eventually, Kaoru marries Aoi.
- The female protagonist of the series. Aoi is a generally demure girl often seen wearing an indigo kimono, and she addresses Kaoru as “Kaoru-sama”. Due to her sharp culinary and housekeeping skills, she is seen as an ideal Japanese woman. As a Sakuraba, Aoi was forced into an arranged marriage with Kaoru and because he left the Habanashi, she (having fallen deeply in love with him), chased after him. Unlike other female leads in harem anime, she works to control her jealousy and is generally successful. She is very devoted to Kaoru, however, and will do all in her power to prevent being separated from him. In the beginning, Aoi was willing to warm him when he had a fever, becoming nude in the process (she made sure he wasn’t looking). When Aoi, Kaoru, and Miyabi moved to the Sakuraba’s summer estate the public appearance Miyabi wanted was that Aoi would be the landlady, herself the manager, and Kaoru a tenant. When Tina Foster moved in, Aoi and Miyabi became a real landlord and manager. She has a “bad” habit of clutching things in her sleep. Eventually, Kaoru’s half-brother proposes to Aoi; when Kaoru stops the engagement, Aoi decides to abandon her family to be with Kaoru.