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Manga: Ai Yori Aoshi

Kaoru Hanabishi, an ordinary college student, runs into a beautiful young woman dressed in an old-fashioned kimono, lost and flustered in the complicated Tokyo subway system. After taking great pains to escort the woman to her destination, he discovers that she is really his friend, Aoi Sakuraba, whom he had promised to marry almost two decades earlier...

Except that the engagement had been annulled by the Sakuraba clan when Kaoru left the Hanabishi clan, after years of abuse from his grandfather. Aoi — who had loved him since childhood and dreamed of marrying him — is unable to accept the annulment and tracks down Kaoru to find out why he doesn’t want to marry her. After they meet up again as adults, and he properly falls in love with her, they decide to reaffirm the engagement but are forced into an unusual situation: in order not to shame the Sakuraba family, they must keep their relationship a secret even as they move into a Sakuraba mansion with the help of Aoi's guardian, Miyabi Kagurazaki.

Sure enough, almost immediately a group of college girls move into the mansion, one by one -- and all of them fall in love with Kaoru. (Except for the ones that were already in love with him long before the beginning of the series.) Hilarity Ensues, as Kaoru and Aoi (who pose as tenant and landlady) try to keep their relationship a secret.

Ran from 1998 to 2005, with an anime adaptation in 2002 (and a follow-up, Enishi, in 2003). See also Umi no Misaki, the creator's subsequent (ongoing) series, also a harem-based romantic comedy but with very different relationship dynamics. A Visual Novel with an original story taking place in the anime's continuity was released for PlayStation 2 in Japan in 2003, and a special English-language version was released for PC in North America by Hirameki International Group Inc..

Examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: In this case, an abusive grandfather.
  • Accidental Pervert: What's Kaoru to do, with all these clumsy, often-half-dressed girls chasing after him every which way? Something of an inversion in that it's nearly always the fault of the girl in question. Also arguably subverted, in that everyone knows and admits that it's not Kaoru's fault.
    • A couple of them — Chika and Tina — even attempt to use the situation to their advantage in their pursuit of Kaoru. One fairly innocently, the other ... considerably less so.
  • Achey Scars: Kaoru's, courtesy of his ol' mean grandpa.
  • Adaptation Distillation: At least as far as the anime covers, it resequences certain events, yet maintains a coherent story flow.
  • All Just a Dream: Subverted on two occasions in the Christmas Episode. The second subversion (and indeed the entire episode) may also be an example of Or Was It a Dream??
  • All-Loving Hero: Aoi loves everyone, and everyone loves Aoi. Pretty much every female member of the cast aspires to be like Aoi. Ironically, however, Aoi seems a bit oblivious to the depths of devotion of her own mentor, Miyabi.
  • Almost Kiss: Several instances of interruption by others when Kaoru and Aoi are about to kiss.
  • Artificial Riverbank: Tina's favorite place.
  • Art Shift: Frequent in Imagine Spots. Also when any character is embarrassed or, sometimes, just witnessing someone else being embarrassed.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: In the manga partially averted - there's not much to see down below, but the girls' nipples are always visible when they are topless (and sometimes visible through their blouses / swimsuits).
    • In the anime version, everyone has Barbie Doll Anatomy. Except Tina (very briefly) in the episode where she and Kaoru get stuck in town and have to spend a night together at a love hotel.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Tina, as often as not. Has to live up to her job as Ms. Fanservice.
  • Bedmate Reveal: Kaoru wakes up more than once to find someone else sleeping next to him. See also: Dudette, He's Like In a Coma, below.
  • Big Fancy House: Lots of them.
  • Biting the Handkerchief: Tina does this in Mayu's Imagine Spot when Mayu envisions making a perfect lunch for Kaoru.
  • Bittersweet Ending: For all versions.
    • In the manga Aoi and Kaoru are together like they wanted. But they have both been expelled from their families.On the one hand, Aoi says she and Kaoru are happy. She also says that she doesn't get to see him as much as she might like because he works long hours to support them. There is also the big fact that the True Companions have been split up, although Aoi says they do get to see each other sometimes. Maybe call it a Happy Ending with bittersweet caveats.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Debatable. But Miyabi is exceptionally protective of Aoi, and she has always been jealous of Aoi's feelings for Kaoru.
  • Bonus Episode: Thirteen episodes in "Enishi" if you count the Christmas Episode. Arguably more of an Omake.
  • Bratty Halfpint: Mayu. Not always the youngest, but always the brattiest.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Tina.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: With the notable exceptions of Mayu and Chika, pretty much all the girls, in their feelings toward Kaoru. Especially Tina, who's loved Kaoru for years.
    • Also, for a different reason, Kaoru and Aoi are unable to reveal their relationship to the other characters. Hilarity Ensues, especially for Tina.
    • In "Moonlight" and the preceding episode(s), Tina's inability to admit she's leaving Japan to return to her family home in America — or even, when the time comes, to say goodbye.
      • This is in character for Tina according to the various bits of backstory revealed earlier in the series; most notably when it's revealed that Tina's abrupt disappearance on her year-long around-the-world backpacking trip was the result of her inability to deal with her feelings for Kaoru. She also claims later to have seen something between Aoi and Kaoru right away as a major reason why she still couldn't spit out her feelings to Kaoru even after coming back.
  • Can't Hold Her Liquor: Aoi, who is near-unconcious after 3 beers. Kaoru as well, unless that Gargle Blaster Tina brought back was a unique case. Taeko, on the other hand, tosses it back with no trouble.
  • Cat Girl: Aoi, in Kaoru's Imagine Spot. Mostly due to her Hyperspace Ears.
  • Cat Smile: Tina.
  • Cheerful Child: Chika may be slightly old for this, but she's within the extended parameters of the trope.
  • Cherry Blossoms: A recurring theme, visually almost omnipresent but also occasionally referenced in the dialogue. See also Meaningful Name.
  • The Chew Toy: Taeko. Which is not to say Taeko is never The Woobie; sometimes she is, especially in regard to her hopeless love for Kaoru. But as a combination of The Ditz and the Cute Clumsy Girl, Taeko brings a lot of "hilarity" down upon her own head (often literally), and this is nearly always played for laughs.
  • Chick Magnet: Kaoru, although he never seems to pick up on it.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Kaoru Hanabishi and Aoi Sakuraba. Not only does the First Girl Win, she was the only one with a shot of winning, even from the first episode.
  • Childhood Marriage Promise: The key plot point: they want to keep it.
  • Children Are Innocent: Chika acts (and looks) more like a nine-year-old than like a junior high student (or, in Enishi, a high school student).
  • Christmas Cake: Miyabi, seemingly. Given her devotion to Aoi and to the Sakuraba family business, it's not clear when she'd ever have time to date. On the other hand, given the intensity of her devotion to Aoi, it's not entirely clear she'd even want to.
  • Christmas Episode: Doubled as a Shout-Out to Ah! My Goddess.
    • Was also an Omake and a Bonus Episode in that there are twelve other episodes in the season.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Mayu Miyuki. Tina shows this a bit too when Mayu gets a little too friendly with Kaoru.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Taeko.
  • Covert Pervert: Most of the cast.
    • In Tina's case, not especially covert.
  • Cross-Popping Veins: Miyabi gets a whole flock of them around her during a montage of Taeko clutziness.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Fairly tame example, but Taeko, of all people, is the one to lead the charge to take down the Obake haunting the mansion. Although it turns out to be just Tina's ferret Uzume.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Combined with her role as The Ditz, this can lead Taeko into The Chew Toy territory.
    • Chika's friend Chizuru is also a Cute Clumsy Girl, but seemingly a milder example than Taeko.
  • Cute Little Fangs: Tina.
    • Miyabi, in a worried Aoi's Imagine Spot in an Enishi episode.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Miyabi.
  • Disappeared Dad: Kaoru's died when he was five.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Kaoru with "Santaoi" in the special episode "Miyuki".
  • The Ditz: Oh, Taeko. (Especially in the early episodes, when she's the model in the photography club — a case of reverse flanderization.) This, along with her role as the Cute Clumsy Girl, can result in her being The Chew Toy.
  • Dogged Nice Girl: Tina gives it her best. Except, you know, actually admitting anything. Until "Moonlight." Arguably Taeko, who, one episodes suggests, may have been a Dogged Nice Girl toward Kaoru for several generations.
    • Aoi, before the series begins, when she learns that her engagement to Kaoru has been broken. Played straight in the sense that Aoi gets her man. Mild subversion in that it wasn't Kaoru but rather her family who broke the engagement, so in a way she was pursuing a love interest she had already won.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Taeko treats driving an actual car like doing it in an arcade. The maneuvers we are shown are actually quite skillful, but scare the bejesus out of her passengers.
  • Dudette, He's Like In a Coma: Tina and Kaoru are forced to spend a night in a love hotel (chaste, since they're only friends), on account of rain and having missed the homebound trains. While Kaoru is asleep, Tina silently debates with herself about kissing him. Judging from her thoughts the next day, she went through with it several times — and seemed alternately happy and regretful about taking advantage of him. Kaoru didn't notice.
  • Eagleland (type 2): Kinda. Tina, the only major character from America, is rather brazen, especially by Japanese standards.
    • Although technically Japanese, Mayu has spent a considerable portion of her life in Britain and the U.S. Naturally she's the brattiest character in the series.
  • Ecchi: Sky-rockets to this level in a chapter of the manga, when Kaoru and Aoi have sex.
  • Everyman: Kaoru.
  • Extreme Doormat: Taeko. Later, Chizuru.
    • Saionji might be an even more extreme example — he doesn't even seem to have opinions of his own — but it's difficult to know for certain, since he's Mayu's butler / chauffeur and we never see him off duty. He seems not to resent it at all when she says, "Have I ever told you why I hate Japanese men? They're rude, filthy, and simple-minded." Shortly afterward, he asks Kaoru to "please be a friend to Mayu-sama."
  • Face Fault
  • Fanservice: In many episodes of the anime, and much of the manga.
  • First Girl Wins: See also Victorious Childhood Friend, below.
  • Follow the Leader: A lower-key, less fantastical Love Hina variant.
  • Foreign Fanservice: Tina, who's already Ms. Fanservice in a Fanservice-heavy show.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: There's a broken Childhood Marriage Promise but she wants to find him. When she does he doesn't remember her at first. There are flashbacks, not to the first time they met but while the were friends as kids together.
  • Freudian Excuse: Kaoru's abusive grandfather turned him into a recluse. Mayu's workaholic parents never paid her attention except when she accomplished something, so she's constantly craving attention, especially from Kaoru. (Does that make Kaoru her father-substitute?)
  • Friend Zone: Tina. Except she probably didn't meet Kaoru until they were about seventeen, so more literally an Unlucky Teenhood Friend. Other than that, fits the trope perfectly.
  • Gargle Blaster: Tina's mysterious purple liquor of doom KOs Kaoru and Miyabi in one shot. In the anime, it's multicolored and glows in the dark.
  • Gag Boobs: Taeko's. They don't look all that different from, say, Tina's, at least to the audience. But nearly everyone within the show comments on them. Repeatedly.
  • Gainaxing: Taeko has that extra "bounce". But just a little. Really.
  • Genki Girl: Tina Foster and Chika. Later, Natsuki.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Chika's normal style.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals
  • The Glomp: Mayu, Tina, and Chika. Each of them, toward Kaoru.
    • The one with which Tina introduces herself was particularly spectacular, with a flying leap from a bench.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Kaoru has "good" ones, after all he went through thanks to his grandpa.
  • Gratuitous English: Tina and Mayu have both spent a lot of time in English-speaking countries, yet neither speak it very well. Mild Lampshade Hanging when people keep asking Tina if she is really American.
    • Lampshaded more obviously when Tina and Mayu first meet; and Tina momentarily forgets how to speak English.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Mayu Miyuki. The other members of the Unwanted Harem evoke jealousy, envy, and resentment in her heart, and she inspires similar feelings in some of them — especially Tina. Of course, Mayu's all-around nastiness toward Tina doesn't help matters.
    • Averted in the series. Even though most of the females are in love with Kaoru, none of them seems particularly resentful toward the rest of the Unwanted Harem. And Aoi, who has the most legitimate reason for resentment, seems to feel it least of all.
      • On the other hand, Miyabi feels resentment toward Kaoru for hogging Aoi's attention all these years, and she flat-out tells him so. She also feels jealousy on Aoi's behalf whenever she sees him with the other girls.
      • Aoi feels jealousy much more readily over time in the manga, especially once the harem reaches critical mass with the addition of Chika. She doesn't show it as much given the pronounced pressure from her family to keep a lid on the relationship. She finally admits it to Kaoru later on, and the pressure of having to keep the relationship a secret while watching other women be so openly affectionate puts a great strain on her.
  • Hadaka Apron: Aoi, but only in Kaoru's Imagine Spots.
  • Happily Adopted: Miyabi. Officially in the ending of the manga.
  • Happy Holidays Dress / Sexy Santa Dress: Aoi-Santa (Santaoi?) wears one in the Christmas Episode.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Tina, and to a lesser extent Taeko. Not much lesser, though.
  • Harem Nanny: Miyabi
  • Hello, Nurse!: Aoi, although she tries not to be. After watching the first few episodes, you might think it was going to be Taeko, the model for the photography club. Or you might think it was going to be Tina, the Hard-Drinking Party Girl / Lovable Sex Maniac / Foreign Fan Service with blonde hair and an exposed belly. But it's actually Aoi who draws all sorts of unwanted attention whenever she shows up on campus, not in spite of her extremely conservative attire but rather because of it.
  • He's Not My Boyfriend:
    • Inverted by Chika. At first she encourages her Those Two Girls friends Natsuki and Chizuru to leap to the wrong conclusions about the nature of her relationship with Kaoru. Later, when they call him her boyfriend, she corrects them and says he isn't — but wistfully. She'd love to be able to tell them he is.
    • Aoi also has an atypical relationship with this trope: whenever any member of The Unwanted Harem inquires about her feelings for Kaoru, she gets flustered and denies them. The initial reason is to keep their betrothal secret so as not to create scandal for the Sakurabas, but as the series progresses it feels more and more like an outright Idiot Plot.
  • Hot Springs Episode: Multiple instances.
  • Identical Grandfather: An old photograph reveals that some presumed-ancestor of Taeko, who looks identical to our Taeko even down to the glasses and maid outfit, had an unrequited crush on some presumed-ancestor of Kaoru, who looks identical to our Kaoru.
  • Innocent Innuendo: When Kaoru is spending the night at Mayu's Big Fancy House they have some very suggestive dialogue which turns out to be about a card game.
    • And in chapter 41 of the manga, when Kaoru and Tina are forced by heavy rain to spend the night in a love hotel, there is suggestive dialogue which turns out to be about a video game they are playing.
  • Intimate Healing: By Aoi to Kaoru, both when he gets a fever and her general impact on his psyche.
  • Jerk Ass: Of the main characters, Mayu Miyuki comes closest.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mayu Miyuki.
  • Joshikousei: Chika and her classmates.
  • Just Friends: Sure you are, Tina. Keep telling yourself that.
  • The Klutz:
    • Taeko.
    • Chizuru. (She certainly swims like a klutz, especially for someone on the school swimteam. If you can even call what she does swimming.)
  • Land Lord: Aoi's "disguise".
    • But really the Land Lord for the series is Miyabi, whose personality traits fit better with the trope than Aoi's. In fact, unlucky teenhood friend Tina calls Miyabi "Kanrinin-san."
    • Technically Kanrinin means 'manager' or 'caretaker'. 'Oya-san' which Tina uses to refer to Aoi means 'landlord/lady'.
  • Lethal Chef: Taeko (at first), and Mayu.
    • Taeko may be more of a Cordon Bleugh Chef, or perhaps a combination of the tropes. (I don't recall which Mayu is.)
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Mayu's Freudian Excuse is her extreme case of Parental Abandonment.
    • Played straight to the trope, yet subverted in that Mayu is not left as a flat character with Lonely Rich Kid as her only defining characteristic.
  • Loser Protagonist: Averted. It's expected than an Unwanted Harem comedy will feature a Loser Protagonist as the unlikely central love interest, but although Kaoru had a difficult childhood and passed through a phase as a Shrinking Violet, he's otherwise mostly gotten his act together even before Aoi bounds back into his life and completes the process. Despite this, Miyabi says at one point that her first impression of Kaoru was of someone unworthy of the amount of effort Aoi put into preparing to become his husband.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Tina, considering she's groped every female in the cast except Mayu, as well as practically assaulting Kaoru on a couple of occasions.
  • Love Hotels: Tina and Kaoru have to stay in one overnight when they get stuck in the city.
  • Love You and Everybody: In one episode, Chika inverts this trope by cornering each of the girls and badgering them to find out if they "love" Kaoru, only to end the episode with the gleeful proclamation that everyone loves Kaoru. Since Children Are Innocent, to her that counts as a happy resolution to the issue.
  • Luminescent Blush: Lots of 'em.
  • Magical Girlfriend: Aoi sometimes borders on this. Except in the Christmas Episode, in which she really is this.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Averted. Although definitely a dream girl, and arguably pixie-ish, Aoi is decidely not manic, or overtly quirky, or even all that chipper except when basking in her love for Kaoru. And if Manic Pixie Dream Girl-wannabee Tina ever had any chance at a beyond-platonic relationship with Kaoru, her abrupt disappearance for a year — ironically, in part to try to get her act together for Kaoru — completely sabotaged it.
  • Marshmallow Hell: Kaoru is sandwiched between Tina's and Taeko's considerable chests in chapter 36 of the manga.
    • He also gets a dose from Aoi, thanks to her more-prodigious-than-advertised assets and her tendency to grab things in her sleep.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Aoi's surname (桜庭 Sakuraba) means "cherry-blossom garden" — she informs Kaoru that her family is named after a grove of cherry trees they've owned for centuries — and the name Aoi can mean "hollyhock flower" (which is the kanji she uses to spell her name, 葵) as well as "blue."
      • Aoi can also mean "pale," "green," "unripe," or "inexperienced."
    • Mayu's family name is Miyuki, which means something like "beautiful snow." Fitting, given her haughty personality.
    • And to round out the flower-themed naming, (花菱 Hanabishi) is a flower shaped family crest and Kaoru spells his name with the kanji for "fragrant," 薫
  • Meet Cute: So very, very cute. Both in the first episode (when Kaoru and Aoi meet as adults) and in the flashbacks (when they first meet as toddlers).
  • Meganekko: Taeko.
  • Meido: Taeko. Chika and Mayu get into the act, too.
  • Ms. Fanservice: At first, Taeko, as the fetish model for the photography club. Later, when that arc gets dropped, Tina.
    • Or, you know, pretty much the entire female cast.
  • Missing Mom: The Hanabishi clan took Kaoru from her, at age five, when his father died. A few years later, she too died. Not just that, but his grandfather destroyed all her photographs and belongings. All of them, that is, except a jewelry-box key young Kaoru gave young Aoi as a Very Special Present.
  • Mood Whiplash: The show bounces bizarrely between lighthearted (if not outright filler) fanservice and poignant romance. In the first season and much of the second, most of the poignancy comes from the backstory of Aoi and Kaoru. During the sequel Enishi — by which point most of the reasons for Aoi and Kaoru to worry for their future, and to keep their romance a secret, have been resolved — the poignancy tips increasingly toward Tina.
  • Nice Guy: Kaoru, once he comes out of his shell. From a certain perspective, his tolerance of The Unwanted Harem is cruel both to Aoi and to the duped girls in question, but it's mostly his own kindness that keeps him from driving them off. That, and also they eventually become True Companions.
  • The Nicknamer: No one person in particular, but Aoi and Kaoru each have an appellation specific to the character speaking. For example:
    • Kaoru calls Aoi "Aoi-chan."
      • Aoi calls Kaoru "Kaoru-sama."
    • Miyabi calls Aoi "Aoi-sama."
      • Miyabi calls Kaoru "Kaoru-dono."
    • Tina calls Aoi "Ooyasan."
      • Tina calls Kaoru plain old "Kaoru" with no honorific.
    • Taeko calls Kaoru "Kaoru-sempai."
      • Taeko calls Aoi "Aoi-sempai."
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Taeko likes the idea of ghosts and poltergeists. Everyone else wants nothing to do with it.
  • Nippleand Dimed: To an extent. You can see nipples in close up, especially in the bathing scenes (good god there's a lot of them) but at other times, they're non-existent.
  • Noblewoman's Laugh: Mayu.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted once in the manga. Chizuru, trying to calm herself down and get over her fear of swimming, is shown sitting on a toilet with her swimsuit actually pulled down, implying that if she's not pooping, she's at least peeing.
  • No Ending / Cut Short: The anime cuts off before the Kaoru/Aoi storyline is resolved. You'll have to read the last few issues of the manga to get a ''real'' ending.
    • It also does nothing with Tina's learning about Kaoru and Aoi's Official Couple status, though one could say that the conversation Tina and Aoi have on the roof implies to the viewer that Tina's cool with it.
  • Not This One, That One: Kaoru initially thinks he'll get to live in the mansion, but in fact, he gets relegated to a much smaller house.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Subverted, as Kaoru gets into improper situations, but the girls actually listen to his explanations and realize it's not his fault. Sometimes even realize that it's not his fault even without explanations.
    • Aoi always gives him the benefit of the doubt.
      • Miyabi's first appearance didn't even give Kaoru time to explain before she gave him a beatdown.
  • Obake: One haunts the mansion, terrorizing the girls (especially Tina) while they try to sleep. Well, except that it turns out to be just Tina's ferret Uzume.
  • Oblivious to Love: The more charitable interpretation of Kaoru toward the Pretty Freeloaders — especially Tina — in his Unwanted Harem.
  • Ocular Gushers
  • Oddly Named Sequel: Enishi.
    • Likely comes from a chapter of the manga where Aoi tells Chika that as a group, they're all tied together by a karmic relationship called "enishi." Something that would have similar connotations to calling the sequel "True Companions" instead.
  • Office Lady: Miyabi.
  • Official Couple: Kaoru and Aoi..
  • Ojou: Mayu and Aoi. Aoi is the sweet tempered lady of the house type.
  • Older Than They Look: Chika and Mayu. In Enishi, also Natsuki.
  • Omake: One in each of the two seasons. Enishi's was also a Christmas Episode and a Shout-Out to Ah! My Goddess.
  • Onsen Episode
  • Ordinary College Student: Kaoru. Or so it seems, until The Reveal that he's the (self-renounced) heir to the powerful Hanabishi clan.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: The Christmas Episode.
  • Pantyshot: A frequent source of Fanservice. Chapter 73 of the manga features a Pantyshot on almost every page - the cast goes to play tennis and all the girls are wearing short tennis skirts.
  • Parental Abandonment: Kaoru's are dead.
    • Mayu's parents are the president of the family business and a famous fashion designer, and thus always traveling.
    • Tina's parents live in the States, and she goes to college in Japan by choice.
    • Taeko's father is dead, and her mother raised her as a single parent, and might also be deceased, as Taeko refers to her in the past tense.
    • Both of Miyabi's parents died in a car accident, and she was raised by Aoi's parents.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Kaoru and Aoi love each other, but unfortunately, Kaoru's leaving the Hanabishi family broke the arrangement, thus causing the drama in the story.
  • Phenotype Stereotype: Tina is American, so of course she's tall, blonde, and blue-eyed.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: Mayu does this to Kaoru when he attempts to leave her mansion to go home.
  • Plot Induced Illness: When Kaoru walks through the rain to get Aoi, who's gotten lost on the Tokyo train system again.
  • Plucky Girl: Most of the girls in the cast are plucky (to varying degrees, of course) — but it's Aoi's willingness to stand up to her family (and her friends in The Unwanted Harem) that prevents her from slipping into Extreme Doormat status.
  • Pretty Freeloaders: Most of the female cast.
    • Or perhaps not. While they're definitely pretty, they're not freeloaders; each pays rent and / or helps out around the house. Moreover, they don't fit the parameters of the trope because what they're really after is Kaoru himself, not what they can get out of him (i.e. room and board — which, as mentioned, they're not getting anyway free, anyway). When first introduced, Tina Foster appears to fit this trope, but that's only because she hides her true motivations.
  • Puni Plush: Only on occasion. Usually it's when a character has been humiliated in some way. Often accompanied by a Face Fault or similar slapstick.
  • Puppy Love: When Kaoru and Aoi meet and fall in love as toddlers. In this case, after many a setback, the ship did eventually set sail.
  • The Rashomon: Tina exaggerates. Just a little.
  • Rebel Prince
  • Red String of Fate: Shown in second season OP, and mentioned a few times.
  • Running Gag: Subtle, but Suzuki sure likes trains.
  • Say My Name
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Taeko gets them in ep 4 of Enishi.
  • Screaming Warrior: Miyabi in "Phantoms" (Enishi ep 4) definitely evokes this when she attacks Mayu by mistake. She might be a woman, but Screaming Woman was not being used here (that was earlier).
  • Secret Relationship
  • Selective Obliviousness: See Oblivious to Love, above.
    • Conversely: it really should have been obvious to everyone that there was more going on between "Kaoru-sama" and "Aoi-chan" than just a tenant-landlady relationship. Leaving aside her odd deference toward him and his odd familiarity toward her ... how many words can Aoi go without mentioning Kaoru?
      • A possible Retcon, but late in the manga Tina reveals she had known from the instant she first saw Kaoru and Aoi together that something was up between them, which contributed heavily to her most recent bout of Cannot Spit It Out with regards to Kaoru.
  • Sempai/Kohai: Whenever addressing her elders, Taeko uses "sempai" either as a designation or as an honorific suffix. That includes Kaoru, even though in her Tragic Dream the two of them are destined to fall in love. It even includes Aoi, who, according to back-of-the-envelope calculations, ought to be younger than Taeko. But Aoi is of much higher caste than Taeko, and is also both her landlady and her boss, so in this case, "sempai" may nothing more than a sign of respect and esteem. See also The Nick Namer.
  • Ship Tease: Now and then, but surprisingly little for an Unwanted Harem comedy. Unless you count one-sided ships, which aren't known for their smooth sailing.
  • Shout-Out: To Ah! My Goddess, in the Christmas Episode.
    • Also, some of the in-universe video games, and the in-universe movie "Pretty Horse." See also Take That, below.
  • Shrinking Violet: Several characters — especially Tina and Kaoru — are implied to have been this until soon before the series begins. One explanation of Tina's bizarre Loveable Sex Maniac antics is that she's still trying too hard to overcome her inner Shrinking Violet.
  • Significant Birth Date: Aoi was born on the day of Tanabata, which celebrates the once-a-year meeting of Orihime (Vega) and Hikoboshi (Altair) across the Milky Way. It's the Japanese equivalent to Valentine's Day.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Nearly every female in the cast, toward Kaoru — at least three of them (Aoi, Tina, Mayu) from years before the opening of the series.
    • Miyabi is the notable exception. Probably.
      • A Valentine's Day chapter of the manga had the girls providing Kaoru with chocolate. Lots of chocolate; so much, it made him queasy. But Miyabi surely wouldn't want to give him chocolate. She gave him cocoa. "...I guess that's Miyabi-san's way of caring about me."
  • Skinship Grope: Tina is very fond of doing this to the other girls.
  • Smug Snake: Kaoru's half-brother, who outright abducts Aoi and manages to arrange for the manor to be closed down in an effort to make her marry him in place of Kaoru, so he can inherit.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: Kaoru's grandfather was apparently in the habit of beating the hell out of him with his cane while goons held him down and burning his deceased mother's last worldly possessions, just to show his tyrannical disapproval of her marriage to Kaoru's father. Kaoru should be nominated for sainthood for just running away without first snapping and murdering his grandpa, like any normal person would have done when pushed that far.
  • Spoiled Brat: Mayu Miyuki.
  • Sprouting Ears: Aoi. Tina also did this in ep5 (see Cat Girl above).
  • Squee: Tina in manga chapter 39, "Azure".
  • Sugar and Ice Personality: Miyabi.
  • Supporting Harem: Made clear by the fact that the lead girl has already won within the first few episodes. (Just the rest of the Harem doesn't know, and for various reasons they feel they need to keep it a secret).
  • Sweat Drop
  • Take My Hand: Kaoru and Aoi in the first season opening. In the first version, they fail, but in the second, they succeed.
  • Take That: Some of the in-universe video games seem to be light-hearted jabs at real-life video games. These may be more examples of shoutouts. A rare nasty example would be the in-universe movie "Pretty Horse," which seems to simultaneously a parody of movies about young girls and their love for horses — and also a pointed jab at Julia Roberts.
  • Tanabata: Aoi's birthday. Also occasionally pops up as a plot point.
  • Team Pet: Tina's ferret Uzume.
  • Thanks for the Mammary: Kaoru. Not from collisions, though, but because he tends to wake up and find this girl or that one has joined him in his bed while he was sleeping, for some inexplicable reason.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: In one episode, Kaoru of all people sings karaoke to the end theme. A different song (sung by Tina) plays over that episode's credits, perhaps indicating some kind of theme conservation law. Also, episode 15 starts with Aoi humming the opening theme.
  • The Thing That Goes Doink: At the Big Fancy House where Aoi's parents live. And it really does go "doink."
  • Third-Person Person: Mayu. Aoi and Chika in the manga.
  • Those Two Guys: Suzuki and Sato.
  • Tiger Versus Dragon: Mayu and Tina when trying on swimsuits
  • Token Mini-Moe: Chika
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Most clearly paired off are Those Two Girls Natsuki (tomboy) and her bff Chizuru (girly girl). The other examples are somewhat more mix-and-match. As the two youngest recurring characters in the original anime series, Chika (tomboy) and Mayu (girly girl) could be paired off. One could make a case for Tina and Aoi. That would leave Miyabi (tomboy) and Taeko (girly girl), although pairing them off is odd in that the two of them don't interact much.
    • Another way to divvy them up would be Miyabi (tomboy), who looks after Aoi (girly girl); and Aoi's would-be rivals Tina (tomboy) and Taeko (girly girl).
      • Worth noting: Tina is herself a mix of Tomboy and Girly Girl. On the one hand she likes groping girls and playing video games and drinking too much. On the other hand, she adores animals and has long, flowing hair and wears sexy (if casual) clothes.
  • Tragic Dream:
    • Everyone except Aoi who hopes to marry Kaoru.
    • Kaoru also has tragic dreams, namely about losing his mother over and over again.
  • True Companions
  • Tsundere: Miyabi, especially at the beginning.
  • Twelve Episode Anime: The sequel, "Enishi."
  • Unlucky Everydude: Kaoru. Mostly in the past by the time the series begins. But he had a really tough childhood.
  • The Unwanted Harem: A given, since it's "harem comedy." Except that all the members of The Unwanted Harem morph into True Companions and thus are no longer UNwanted — (even by Aoi, who by rights ought to regard them as wannabee rivals) — except in the romantic sense.
    • Which presumably makes them the Half-Wanted Harem.
  • Unrequited Love Lasts Forever: As shown in the Distant Finale, despite Kaoru's marriage to Aoi, Mayu still hasn't given up on him and visits their house at least once a month, often getting on Aoi's nerves in the process.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: In the manga, Chika's assessment of the relationship between Mayu and Tina. Mayu loudly expresses outrage: "Just so we're clear, she will state it outright: Mayu absolutely hates Tina-san!" But then...
  • Weasel Mascot: Tina's ferret Uzume.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?:
    • Miyabi is physically capable of throwing Kaoru across a room — but the sight of Uzume bringing her a large dead bug makes her climb onto his back and wail, "NOO!" And Uzume, like a cat, brings her lots of bugs as a token of love.
    • Tina has a phobia of thunderstorms.
  • Witch Species: "Sataoi" from Miyuki is just one of many "Santas" that bring the gift of pleasent dreams on Christmas.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko:
    • Aoi wanted to be Kaoru's since childhood. She's got the skill set and general attitude of a Yamato Nadeshiko, but her whole situation with Kaoru would be entirely different if she weren't assertive enough to defy her family's authority. She makes it abundantly clear that her ultimate devotion is to love, not a particularly traditionalist viewpoint.
    • Taeko expresses her desire to be a Yamato Nadeshiko, in part to be "worthy" of Kaoru's love. But she's really more of an Extreme Doormat crossed with a Cute Clumsy Girl. Adorable but rather hopeless.
  • Yandere: Mayu Miyuki.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Aoi, Miyabi, and Mayu each have different shades of purplish hair.
  • Zigzag Paper Tassel: Taeko carries one when she tries to play Ghostbuster.

A.I. Love YouCreator/TokyopopARIA
Tales of EterniaAnime of the 2000sAzumanga Daioh
Ah! My GoddessCreator/GeneonAKIRA
Air MasterSeinenAkagi
Magical GirlfriendImageSource/Anime And MangaCat Smile

alternative title(s): Ai Yori Aoshi; Ai Yori Aoshi
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