Ai Yori Aoshi: Faithfully Yours 1 is an anime focusing on a young couple destined to be together since their shared childhood. The dvd cover says: "Kaoru Hanabishi just wanted to help. Aoi Sakuraba just wanted to find her first love. They never realized they were looking for each other. Ever since their arranged marriage 18 years ago, Aoi had been in love with Kaoru, but she traveled to Tokyo to meet him when she learned the marriage had been called off. While Kaoru's impressed by Aoi's loyalty, innocence and beauty, to accept her affection, he might have to return to the Hanabishi Clan and the emotional and physical pain he suffered during his childhood... Their self-control and their love will be put to the test when she moves in and he tries to stay a gentleman!"
The five episodes here are Fate, Supper, Separation, Living Together, and Old Friend and each is very descriptive of what happens. Initially, the show started off very slowly and allowed me to get to know the characters by use of a series of flashbacks. I found a bit of it tedious since I'm more used to the over the top expositions other series use. After Separation was finished, the pace started picking up until Old Friend which seemed like something more out of the Tenchi Muto OVA series. Without spoiling the story for you, let's just say that the romance between our two young lovers faces a lot of hurdles and comic situations which suits me just fine. This series originally aired in Japan last year and I hadn't heard anything about it so my hopes are high that it'll continue to entertain me as future volumes are released.
The picture is presented in full frame and had no problems. It was crisp and clear and I noticed no artifacts or other visible defects.
The audio gives you the choice of either 2 channel Japanese or English. The audio tracks were also very clear although in the first few episodes the lead female vocal track seemed to be cold reading the lines. English subtitles are available which are slightly different than the spoken English track.
There was a Yoko Ishida music video "Towa no Hana" which was cute but short and means "Eternal Flower". There was an art gallery, US trailer, a reversible dvd cover, an insert in the case, and a postcard. If you buy the limited edition version, you'll also get the slipcase for the series and a birthday card collectible.
At first, I thought this was a pleasant little release that'd be worth renting but after watching the entire dvd, I really started to warm up to it a lot more. I'm a big fan of some of the outlandish antics in the Tenchi series and while I don't particularly care for cloned releases, this one had enough going for it on it's own that a bit of that Pioneer magic wouldn't hurt. I preferred the Japanese audio track too since the voice acting was weak at first but it did get better over time. In any case, 5 episodes on a single dvd is a good value compared to a number of other releases, even these days. The animation itself was good and the humor ranged from subtle to over the top which all combined to make this a winner.