Ai Yori Aoshi - 18: Sleeping together

Title:Ai Yori Aoshi
Episode:18: Sleeping together
Tina has seen some cute monkeys on TV that will be on display in a nearby zoo, so she orders the photo club to participate on her trip. As everyone else is busy in the western style house, only Kaoru is able to attend the excursion. When they reach Genbo Zoo, both Suzuki and Sato have sent e-mail to Tina's cellphone that they are going elsewhere today... Tina is angry, but when Kaoru tells her they will be together alone for the whole day she begins to wonder.
Watching all these animals and shooting pictures, Tina cheers up - and Kaoru is relieved. When Tina wants Kaoru to make a picture of her with the monkeys some nurse offers to do it for them: "Get close together" she says, and Tina is more than willing to comply [image1] .
Then Tina is amazed by the zoo's attraction: "Animal Fantasy - a place to explore love" where Kaoru and Tina are separated and then each have to cross the "Jungle of Evil" on their own. Kaoru experiences a lot of trouble on his way; Tina has no problems to reach the end of the jungle where fairy Charlene makes her select one of three doors [image2], each of which will provide her with a dress to express her feelings for her partner, ranging from friend to lover! Kaoru will have to face the same choice at the end of his journey, and if both select the same door they will win a "dream-filled treasure"... now what should Tina do? But then, a choice is made somehow... while Tina is being dressed in a marvellous wedding suit [image3], all kinds of thoughts run through her head. And then Kaoru 'selects' a door as well.
Later it starts raining. Tina and Kaoru have picked up a lost little girl in the zoo, and her grateful father invites them for dinner. When they finally get to the railway station the floods have caused a landslide and all train lines are closed! Aoi calls Tina on her cell phone [image4] and offers to let Miyabi pick them up with her car, but Tina sees no problem spending the night with Kaoru at a karaoke place...
But such a place is not easy to be found here. So they end up taking cover from the rain in some kind of 'hotel' - with the appropriately ecchi TV & video programme. Tina and Kaoru do karaoke first, then they start to talk - about how Tina's husband would be, and about what Tina meant to Kaoru when they met at university. When Tina takes a shower [image5] she decides to give it a try, but then Kaoru stumbles over a cable and falls upon her on the bed... [image6]
(2004-03-04, Devil Doll:)
I like this episode much more than Tina's first day alone with Kaoru in episode 9 of Ai Yori Aoshi. This time it is often funny, but despite certain ecchi elements it gets real silly only once (when Kaoru stumbled over the cable). Then again, Tina gets a lot to think about; this is the first time when her character is developed - she can be so much more than a breast fondling nuisance! We will see more of her in Ai Yori Aoshi ~Enishi~ (even that 'monkey picture' of Kaoru and Tina will play a role again there). And the Dream Story Special might provide more background information about why Tina loves animals so much.
One idea is repeated several times during this episode: Things get out of Tina's control. It wasn't her who selected the door at the end of the jungle; the rain complicated things while she cared about the lost little girl; she missed to tell Aoi that she was alone with Kaoru. Everything pulls Tina and Kaoru into a situation where they have to spend the night together somewhere. But then, Tina doesn't tell Kaoru that Miyabi could have picked them up... which would have been their last way out.
In the 'hotel', Tina is in a hysterical state, torn between hopes and fears - she teases Kaoru, yet she doesn't actually know what to do. Then Kaoru starts talking about her wedding suit... when Tina describes her 'husband' and Kaoru listens without noticing that it is he whom she describes, this is one of the greatest scenes of the whole series. Yet, fate is not on her side, just like with Taeko one episode earlier (although this time Kaoru is at least aware of what's going on). The second competitor in a row has failed - lucky Aoi. ;-)
The karaoke machine of the 'hotel' seems to provide songs from this very series - at least two of them are from "the indigo", and we hear Kaoru sing the ending theme of this series. But Tina's episode requires a different ending music this time which is much more her style.

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