I’ll be here for you
- Episodes : 6
- Genre : Romance, Comedy, Drama, Ecchi
- Airing Date : Mar 27, 1992 – Aug 28, 1992
- Producers : Production I.G
Denei Shoujo Introduction
Youta Moteuchi is the walking definition of last guys finishing last. Due to the writing of his name in kanji (弄内 洋太), it can also be read as Motenai Youda, meaning unpopular. Despite being teased for his name, he’s best friends with his school’s most popular boy and girl - Takashi and Moemi. Although the girls at school give Youta a hard time, Moemi manages to acknowledge all of Youta’s best qualities. Unfortunately, she likes Takashi. For Youta’s sake, Takashi politely tries to turn her down and instead of pulling the moves on her, Youta consoles her
while keeping within the friend zone.
Due to his selflessness, he earns a membership to a special video rental store (remember those?), Gokuraku. It’s filled with videos of gravure idols and he chooses Ai Amano (meaning Love of the Heavens). Upon putting her video into his busted VCR, she comes out of the TV a bit faulty. Even though Ai’s body faces some significant changes, she gains a more aggressive personality and loses her programmed cooking skills. However, Ai still manages to stick to her role in supporting Youta.
What We Liked About Denei Shoujo (Video Girl Ai)
Denei Shoujo, or Video Girl Ai, is the story of the friend zone long before the term was coined. You get a first hand view of the dynamics of that kind of relationship from a teenager’s point of view. While the whole saying of “it’s what’s on the inside that counts” can be rather cliché, this series does an excellent job of presenting that for viewers to relate to. Moemi and Takeshi both see that Youta is really a nice and genuine guy. Youta, in turn, accepts Ai the way she is despite not coming out the way she was advertised. It’s a brief and engaging story that love can conquer all.
Why You Should Watch Denei Shoujo
1. Great Seiyuu Cast and Dub
What a manga can’t provide in comparison to an anime is a quality seiyuu cast. The big name to check out in this anime happens to be Megumi Hayashibara as the voice of Ai herself. If you don’t know who she is, you’re probably new to anime (or a dubbie). She’s the voice of Rei from Evangelion, Musashi/Jesse from Pokemon, Lina Inverse from Slayers, and the female Ranma from Ranma ½. Prior to her transformation, she portrays Ai as appropriately feminine and empathetic. However, due to Youta’s faulty VCR, Ai in the Japanese version tends to speak more like a male. As opposed to using female first person pronouns to refer to herself (as in the standard watashi), she uses “ore,” the informal male pronoun. However, if you’ve seen her performance in Ranma ½, it’s very similar to that performance. If you have any comprehension of Japanese, you’ll likely appreciate this humor.
Some of you may be familiar with Takeshi Kusao, the voice of Trunks from Dragon Ball Z. He happens to be the voice of Youta. His voice is recognizable to hardcore fans but as opposed to having a more aggressive personality, his performance as Youta feels very genuine as a selfless and mature 16-year-old. Brad Swaile, his English voice actor, equally does an excellent job of capturing Youta for those that would prefer an English dub, the rest of the cast also masterfully captures the characters. So if you like dubs, we strongly recommend Video Girl Ai’s.
2. Excellent Soundtrack
In addition to amazing performances in the English and Japanese tracks, this anime has a top notch soundtrack. You’ll definitely get a kick out of Ureshi Namida, or Happy Tears, the opening theme. The singer happens to be one of J-Pop’s biggest teen idols of the late-80s and early-90s, Noriko Sakai, who Masakazu Katsura, the original manga author happened to be a huge fan of. The song is very upbeat and romantic. If you ever see yourself getting ready for a date, listening to Ureshi Namida gets you in that mood.
As for its ending theme, Ano Hi Ni, or To That Day by Maki Kimura (with the lyrics written by Katsura himself), it’s one of those songs you should give a listen to after a break up or if you try to ask someone out and they turn you down. The rest of the soundtrack is full of songs by Kimura and they perfectly set the mood to the scenes of the series.
Why You Should Skip Denei Shoujo (Video Girl Ai)
1. Short compared to the manga
While this 6-episode OVA tells a full story that brings Youta and Ai’s relationship full circle, it’s criminally short compared to its 15 volume manga counterpart. The anime doesn’t fully resolve Youta’s feelings with Moemi (the manga does an excellent job of this) and other important characters are entirely omitted. Rolex, Ai’s creator, remains nameless in the anime and the anime doesn’t bother to explore him. The anime provides no reason on why he’s so presentably evil and why he created the Gokuraku video stores, while the manga demonstrates what his goals are on why why he targets pure hearted adolescents, and why Video Girls aren’t supposed to fall in love.
If you’re a fan of Masakazu Katsura’s works, Video Girl Ai is certainly worth checking out – mostly as a preview to the manga. While his work since Video Girl Ai has gone the road of the supernatural, this series shows that he is also capable of making romance for Shounen audiences. While his present art style (especially with his heavy use of shadowing) is difficult to adapt for anime, the studio does an excellent job of capturing the original designs and costumes for readers to recognize. However, its high profile cast and soundtrack are enough to bring you into its world.