Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi, Volume 1: Fate (Episodes 1-4)

Masami Shimoda
The second broadcast season of Ai Yori Aoshi picks up two years after childhood sweethearts Aoi and Kaoru met again and set up their odd ménage in one of Aoi's family mansions. Kaoru is now a graduate student; Chika, Taeko's bouncy cousin, has joined the household, adding to the number of girls with innocent crushes on Kaoru. Nothing else has changed: Miyabi runs the show, Aoi cheerfully cooks and cleans, Taeko breaks more than she tidies, and Tina sponges off them. The filmmakers never succeed in reconciling the wistful, treacly romance between Aoi and Kaoru with the many fan service shots of panties, breasts, etc., and viewers may find themselves longing for a little of the gleeful mischief of Love Hina or Tenchi Muyo. The extras include the mini-episode "Miyuki," in which Aoi appears to bachelor Kaoru as Santa Claus. (Rated 13 and older: nudity, risqué humor) --Charles Solomon

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