Video Girl Ai
Vol. 3 - ai, love, and sadness
[ai, love, and sadness] is the final part in the amazing Video Girl Ai OAV series, based on the masterwork manga by Masakazu Katsuura, currently being run by Animerica Extra. If you've hung in there this long, this is the pay-off.
Takeshi and Moemi are now dating, and that fact has driven the final nail in the coffin for any hope of her hooking up with Youta. Rather than stew in his own juices, however, he's turned his efforts to illustrating for a comic book contest. Ai-chan is highly impressed by his efforts... and is really beginning to fall in love with him. But that's not the only thing wrong... she's starting to disappear.
Since video girls aren't supposed to fall in love, Ai's creator has decided to remove her from circulation. Apparently, most guys just want 'em for comfort and sex -- not love. However, Youta is different -- he's started to depend on her, and her disappearance is sending our already unstable young man into the streets in search of his lost love. When he finally puts two and two together, he gets back into the house just in time to chase Ai back into the video world.
What follows is perhaps the most beautiful animated sequence ever animated. Ai's creator puts him through a series of painful emotional tests, the most famous of which is the thin glass staircase to ai, which Youta basically gores himself to climb. The music, Frozen Flower performed by Nav Katse, is etherial and dramatic -- and the result is riveting.
By far the most emotional (and surreal) of the series -- or any animation produced in that era for that matter, the final volume of Video Girl Ai deviates from the manga quite a bit, but Katsuura was a big part of the anime production, and the anime version is therefore just as striking, if not moreso.
The English dub improves quite a bit from the weak second volume, and nearly achieves the quality of the first. The weakest part is the dialogue, which was rewritten by Trish Ledoux, and changes the meaning of many things that shouldn't be - and takes some of the logic and meaning out of the series. Just the same, this final volume is a triumph of the anime art form, and should not be missed by anyone.
Overall (dub) : A-
+ Powerful ending to a fantastic series
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