Youta Moteuchi is an Ordinary High-School Student
whose father is always working abroad. Due to his bad luck with girls, he's nicknamed "Motenai" — "Dateless", and even worse for him, he's in love with a girl pretty much deemed as perfect, the beautiful and sweet Moemi Hayakawa. During a meeting, she tells him she likes Youta's best friend Takashi Niimai... and then Youta, instead of sulking or revealing his feelings, promises to help her get Takashi's love
After making said promise and feeling like crap about it, Youta finds himself in front of a video rental store he has not seen before
. The man in charge of the store says that, since Youta truly meant what he told Moemi, he deserves a prize... like borrowing one of the videos of the store. Its name is "I'll comfort you!" and has a beautiful girl on the cover.
Youta goes back to his Cool House
, plays the video on his VCR... and then the girl pops out from the TV! Her name is Ai Amano, and she's come to help him with his woes. Unfortunately, Youta's VCR was broken, therefore Ai-chan's programming is seriously messed up. She lost a few cup sizes
, she can barely cook
, she's clumsy
, she puts her feet in her mouth
, she teases Youta mercilessly
... and for better or for worse, she develops feelings for him
, when she's supposed to just counsel and console the boy. And this is just the start
.Video Girl Ai
(電影少女,Den'ei Shojo?, lit. "Video Girl") is a manga series created by Masakazu Katsura
and published by Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump. It also has an anime adaptation. The manga is published in English by Viz Media
. It was formerly published in the anthology Animerica Extra by Viz. It was started in 1990 and continued until 1993, and fifteen manga volumes were produced. The first 13 volumes tell Ai Amano's story. The last two volumes, which came years later, focus on a new video girl named Len, hence the new name for these two volumes Video Girl Len
The Video Girl Ai anime is a six part OVA series which was produced by I.G. Tatsunoko. The series was released in 1992 by Jump Video. It roughly covers most of the material found in volumes 1 and 3 of the manga (and some of Volume 2). An obscure live-action movie was also made.
Has a Character Sheet
that is in need of your love.
Video Girl Ai has examples of:
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Yota does this to relieve himself after spending a long and tense night sharing the bed with Moemi, who was completely naked except for a long jersey. To explain things out: A emotionally smashed Moemi was deliberately trying to excite and then reject Yota to make him forget about Ai, but Yota was desperately resisting and controlling himself because poor Moemi's Near-Rape Experience was still fresh on her memory. (Moemi was also counting on this to manipulate Yota, no matter how much she disliked the idea of playing dirty against Ai — she was THAT out of it and desperate.) The next morning, when Moemi prepared herself to return to her home, Yota asked his penis to "Withstand just until Moemi were out of sight and then he would give him his reward"
- A God Am I: Rolex. He is a "Creator"! He has many traits in common with the Deniurge of Gnosticism!
- All Love Is Unrequited: Pretty much everyone.
- Anime Theme Song: Noriko Sakai's "Ureshii Namida"
- Artificial Human: the Video Girls
- Big Brother Mentor: The adult, more mature Youta for Hiromu in Video Girl Len.
- Big Fancy House: Youta, as the son of a famous and rich artist, lives in an incredible one.
- Bokukko: Invoked by Moemi, who in an attempt to get Youta tried to shed her Yamato Nadeshiko exterior and become one of these. It fails anyway; she returns to her Yamato Nadeshiko behavior, only keeping her short hair.
- Broken Bird: Natsumi Yamaguchi, Ayumi Shirakawa from Video Girl Len. Moemi almost becomes one.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Youta's problem at the beginning was more "Will Not Spit It Out", because it wasn't like he was afraid of being rejected; he was convinced that he would be rejected, without even knowing for sure how Moemi would react.
- Cool House: Youta's place is awesome, a far cry from so many prefab houses in Japanese cities, with stuff like a spacious living room, a lounge with a lowered pit in the floor, and skylights. Justified in that it was likely designed by his architect father.
- Crucified Hero Shot: Ai ends up strapped in this position by cable and other video equipment after being forced back into the Video world, as punishment for having fallen in love with Youta.
- Declaration of Protection: Youta says "I will protect you, no matter what!" as he's trying to protect Ai from being destroyed by Mai.
- Despair Event Horizon: Moemi comes dangerously close in the manga, after her Near-Rape Experience. Ai and Yota also approach it at different points.
- In Video Girl Len, Ayumi. Poor Ayumi.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Youta, only that he chooses the I Want My Beloved to Be Happy route rather than pursuing Moemi.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Mai's stance against Yota and Ai.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Of course it ends happily after Youta nearly slices himself to ribbons climbing a collapsing glass staircase in his attempt to rescue Ai. Oh wait, no it doesn't - in the OVA, it cuts to an open ending and in the manga it sets the stage for several more volumes of strife. Youta eventually has to fight through a brain block and sever Ai's connection with the physical world in order to save her from reverting back to a plain Video Girl. Only in the epilogue do you get a truly happy ending.
- Fartillery: Len tries this to shatter Hiromu's unnatural and idealistic concept of women. It backfires, though.
- Genki Girl: Ai, Len
- Ill Girl: Natsumi, who has a weak heart and later dies. And for worse, according to her doctors, her fragile heart was the lesser of her problems.
- Important Haircut: Nobuko and later Moemi cut their hair short to imitate Ai, as a last desperate effort to keep Yota with them- Moemi goes so far as dressing like a tomboy and using a rude language, which counts as a 180º for her. Unfortunately, not even this worked.
- Japanese Pronouns: Ai uses "ore" to refer to herself — yet another side effect of Youta's awful VCR.
- Jerk Ass: Ayumi's handsome yet rotten ex-boyfriend in Video Girl Len.
- Takashi purposely tries to look like one, so Moemi would stop liking him and start paying attention to Yota. Unfortunately, this idea went horribly wrong.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Toshiki Karukawa is an irresponsible pervert who dates and dumps girls just like that and is constantly trying to peek at Len's panties or naked body. He would give his life for his friend Hiromu, shed tears of blood when Hiromu's initial crush went sour, took a good beating to save Hiromu and Ayumi from a gang, politely rejected Len when she felt she HAD to have sex with him to make her mission easier, etc. There's a reason for why this extremely lecherous boy was still capable to see the Neo Gokuraku, after all (and it shows quite the difference between "sex" and "emotions" as well).
- Kiss Me, I'm Virtual
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Happens twice to Ai and once to Yota as part of Rolex's manipulations.
- Lethal Chef: Ai was supposed to be a GREAT chef, but since she was played in a broken VCR... well, yeah. Youta still eats her cooking out of affection.
- Averted in the anime, where only her first meal was terrible. She then overcame her instincts and was able to prepare much better food slowly and carefully.
- Like Brother and Sister: Moemi thinks of Youta like a brother, and so she knows she can tell him that she's got a crush on his best friend. Pity he was about to confess his own feelings for her. He gets in a similar situation later where he admits that he loves Ai, but isn't necessarily in love with her.
- Lighter and Softer: Video Girl Len uses less drama and more comedy that Ai.
- The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday - In fact, you can't even see the Gokuraku store if you're not a genuinely good person. Youta saw it for his selflesness regarding Moemi; the Lovable Sex Maniac Toshiki found the Neo Gokuraku along with Hiromu because he truly cared for his best friend, despite his lecherousness.
- Of course, Video Girl Ai's toying with this trope is a pretty important plot point in the manga. For instance, Gokuraku Video's real role is to use Video Girls to obliterate their renter's ability to love. The pure hearted are, in the opinion of the people behind it, too vulnerable and good to deal with the harsh realities of love, and destroying their ability to do so through the loveless Video Girls is the only way to protect them. This was supposed to be Ai's purpose, but the broken VCR did for that. Later on, a rival The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday opens up across the road from Gokuraku Video named Neo Gokuraku, run by Gokuraku Video's old clerk after he resigned out of disgust, aiming to get to the Pure Hearted first, and give them Video Girls (apparently allowed to have emotions of their own, unlike the Gokuraku girls) who can help them through love's tribulations.
- Love Hurts: Like, WHOA. This is Rolex's main motivation for the creation of Video Girls, as he considered love as a disease.
- Loving Force: Manga only: Yota attempts this as a final resort to save Ai from Rolex's control by making her a "real woman". It doesn't ends well, as Ai doesn't knows what Yota is trying to do and pushes him away by squeezing his testicles until the pain makes him stop. It takes her a while to put two and two together and realize that Yota tried to accomplish one of the abusive conditions that Rolex secretely had imposed upon Ai.
- Made of Iron: Ai fell from a huge fall, tumbled down a concrete slope filled with sharp objects and ended crashing through a wall, suffering nothing but light bruises: even Ai herself was surprised for this.
- Mama Bear: Ayumi's best female friend is fiercely protective of her. She hits Len when she tries to talk to her and carelessly mentions her bad rep, then yells at her it's all a lie. Later, when Len approaches her directly, the girl sees Len is really trying to help and explains the deal with Ayumi and her Jerk Ass ex-boyfriend.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Ai
- Manipulative Bastard: Rolex, the owner of the Gokuraku store. Mixes it with Knight Templar, to a degree.
- Matchmaker Crush: Youta, for Moemi and Takashi. Ai, for Youta and Moemi.
- My Girl Is Not a Slut: In Video Girl Len, Ayumi's bad rep comes from nasty rumors about her sexual experience. She's so distraught over it that at some point she even gives in and tells Hiromu to do whatever he wants with her. He panicks and runs off, and Ayumi collapses in tears.
- Names to Know in Anime: Both CD drama and OAV had famous seiyuu in their casts:
- Near-Rape Experience: Moemi, in the manga
- Off Model: Especially in the second episode of the anime.
- Parental Abandonment: Youta's father is never seen and his mother is explicitly said to be dead. Natsumi ran away from home at some point.
- Poor Communication Kills: All. The. Time.
- The Power of Love: Played with: When Natsumi is about to succumb to her illness and even loses the will to live, Ai and Takashi do the impossible to find her missing boyfriend and bring him to her hospital bed. Against all odds, they succeed, and being reunited with her boyfriend makes Natsumi recover the will to live: she is happy again, her vital signs quickly start to stabilize, much for the doctor's surprise for her miraculous recovery. Still crying tears of pure happiness, Natsumi thanks Ai... and then, she dies.
- Youta is able to overcome the memory erase drug he's been given because The Power of Love is stronger than anything Rolex is capable of.
- It's also a big part of Ai coming back as human at the very end.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: I! WONT! QUIT LOVING! AI, ANYMORE!
- Purity Personified: Played as a problem for Hiromu on Video Girl Len: his concept of women was so overly idealized that he refused to believe that girls of his age would do things like burping, smelling, stuffing themselves or even going to the bathroom, so Len's first task was trampling over these twisted concepts and making Hiromu see women as what they really were: just plain, normal human beings.
- When Hiromu believes that Ayumi isn't a virgin anymore, he quickly gives up on her, claiming "she's on a different level now." Understandably, Len goes red with rage and tries to have sex with Toshiki to show Hiromu that losing her virginity wasn't going to make her less human than before, or much less planting a wall between them (he doesn't go through with it, though). Eventually she manages to open his eyes, which was only the first step...
- Redemption Equals Death: Mai Kamio (manga only) and Ai herself at the end of the manga.
- Second Love: Ai, for Youta
- Sex Slave: What Video Girls could be if they weren't given to a boy with a pure heart. To make an experiment, Rolex gives Video Girl Mai to a boy who, unlike Yota, doesn't have a pure heart (and happened to be Nobuko's Dogged Nice Guy, too). He locks himself with Mai and spends a week having non-stop sex with her, without even bothering to eat or drink, until he collapses. Unfortunately, this horrible treatment was the base for Mai's Face-Heel Turn and her hatred against Ai.
- Shadow Archetype: Ai Amano and Mai Kamio
- Technically, Ai herself is the ultimate shadow archetype for all Video Girls.
- Shrinking Violet: Moemi
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Youta and Ai
- Suicide Attack: Mai can release her magnetic energy as powerful energy bolts to attack and kill people if it's needed, but doing this drastically reduces her own lifespan until she is reduced to nothing. Ai copied her technique to save Yota and Natsumi from Mai's wrath, destroying Mai on the spot, but losing her own life as well. Rolex forced her to live again to continue studying her, though.
- Tsundere: Ai is a Type B aka Type Dere
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: Nobuko, Natsumi
- Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Ai twists this trope, in that she wasn't supposed to be the girlfriend, but fell for the lovable loser she was trying to improve.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Rolex truly believes he's saving mankind by trying to exterminate such a painful feeling as love.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Interestingly discussed here. Are video girls supposed to only obey orders and programming? Or do they have right to their own minds and feelings?
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Video Girl Mai becomes this, after ending up as a Sex Slave to a boy without a pure heart and going mad as a result.