Video Girl Ai

Denei Shoujo (Video Girl)
Also Known As: VGAi, VGA, Denei Shoujo, Video Girl
Genre: Comedy/Romance
Length: 15 Volumes
Allegiance: Shueisha
Mangaka: Katsura Masakazu
Vintage: 1990 – 1993
Intelligence Agency Report by: Lady Sage
Moteuchi “Dateless” Youta has the worst luck. Moemi, who he’s head-over-heels in love with, just confessed to him that she likes his best friend, his VCR is broken, and all the girls in school hate him and have saddled him with the world’s worst nickname. To console himself, he stops by a new video store called “Gokuraku” and checks out a video from the Adult section. But then Amano Ai, the star, pops out of his broken VCR to help rescue his love life!

Research Agent Report by: Lady Sage
Overall 6.00
(not an average)
You know, it’s remarkable how a relatively unique concept in such a tired genre can turn out to be such a terrible series. Video Girl Ai had great promise in the beginning, with charming characters, a premise that, although it promised a love triangle, could give way to some unique twists, and fairly attractive art. And, for five volumes, it delivered everything it promised. Too bad the series lasted fifteen. After the introduction of Nobuko in particular, things go rapidly downhill and stay there until the conclusion of the series. Take the characters. Youta is mostly unremarkable but in 1990 he wasn’t a complete retread, and he has a definite sincerity to him. Moemi is charmingly sweet, but not a complete doormat, and Ai is spunky, yet neither a skank nor a harpy. They all had charisma and, what’s more, chemistry. But as Youta is continually unable to make a decision and incessantly switches from girl to girl, the female cast grows increasingly embittered, angsty, and tormented in a way that was truly alarming to watch. I really had to wonder exactly why they put up with him. 

The plot repeats itself roughly every five volumes, growing more fragmented and wearisome each time through. The twists varied from predictable to occasionally startling in the first arc. But even the most surprising of twists really isn’t going to shock anyone the second time around. When I recognized a third cycle of the plot events, I wanted to cry, especially since the endearing characters that had made the story’s flaws bearable had been twisted beyond recognition already. Occasionally there would be new plot twists, but they tended toward the melodramatic and never managed to restore any of my faith in the quality of the series. 

I won’t recommend against reading the first five volumes of Video Girl Ai. Hell, I even encourage it, as long as you don’t continue after the first arc. Unless, of course, you really like melodrama and redundancy…or if you really like the fan service, but there’s always other sources for that which don’t make you suffer through this sorry excuse for a romance series.