Video Girl Ai, originally a manga series, was adapted into a six-part OVA by Production I.G. in 1991. The manga had not finished at the time and the anime was treated as a grounds of experimentation for which paths the manga could potentially explore. The director himself admitted that he wasn’t sure how the anime would end since nothing was officially planned. When all is said and done, this little OVA series became perhaps Production I.G.’s best rivaled only by the Gainax co-production FLCL.
The romantic polygon is a pretty common plot device in anime and general storytelling. Video Girl Ai is a very typical love triangle story except for one small twist, the “Video Girl.” The story starts when the main character, Yota, finds out that the girl he likes is in love with this best friend. Left in despair, he decides to rent a video from a mysterious video store called “Paradise” on his way home. He chooses the video “I’ll Cheer You Up!” To his surprise when he plays the tape, a video girl named Ai emerges from his TV. Ai’s purpose is to become Yota’s ideal woman and to encourage him in the pursuit of his love. However, Yota’s VCR is defective which causes Ai to develop emotions of her own, something that video girls should never have.
Video Girl Ai features a wonderfully crafted story coupled with interesting and engrossing characters. Despite incorporating a tad bit of fanservice, not a moment is wasted and every scene is utilized to its full potential. The plot flows seamlessly from one scene to the next while the pacing is perfect for a six-part series. The story begins in a comedic manner, with the first several episodes focusing on the relationship between Ai and Yota as well as Yota’s love interest and best friend. It becomes much more riveting and emotional as the story winds down to its finale.
It’s a shame that this title was eventually forgotten as time went on. Nowadays, two decades later, Kimi ni Todoke is production I.G.’s newest and most popular romantic comedy. Suffices to say, the show has its faults and is often criticized for its slow pace and unrealistic characters. For fans of Kimi ni Todoke, Kaichou wa Maid Sama, or any other modern romantic comedy, classics such as Video Girl Ai are not to be missed.
Final Thoughts: 9/10
Video Girl Ai does what modern day romantic comedies/dramas can only dream of doing. The show takes the love polygon trope and meshes it seamlessly into a science fiction story about a very realistic issue. The characters are all well developed, and the story is equally well paced, leading to its thrilling and powerful conclusion.