Okay, so it isn't every day that the people you see on television come to visit. Maybe if you're one of the lucky winners of the Publisher's Clearing House drawings, or if you get called up during Who Wants to be a Millionaire -- but certainly not during a soap opera and most certainly not during any adult material that may just happen to make its way into your VCR. Yet Moteuchi Youta gets embroiled in both a soap opera and an adult movie when Amano Ai, Video Girl, comes out of the TV and into his life. VGAi is a story whose emotional ups and downs are best experienced directly and not in a condensed form like this article, so I thought instead, I'd drop a few tidbits about the good people in Japan who made it possible.
First of all, the original VGAi manga was written by Katsura Masakazu, one of the more popular artists in the widely circulated Shounen Jump manga serial. After rising to popularity with the 15-volume VGAi manga, he went on to write DNA˛ (which became a TV series/OVA), Shadow Lady, and his still-running manga I's (pronounced "Eyes"). Katsura seems to have a major Batman fetish, and every new Batman movie triggers a cameo in the manga, a new manga series altogether, or both. Katsura also tends to spend a lot of his considerable artistic talent drawing the female form, and the animators have done an admirable job of preserving this in the anime. In addition, Katsura co-authored a VGAi novel in 1993, and VGAi was also made into a live-action movie.
VGAi was animated on behalf of Jump Video by I.G. Tatsunoko, one of the more renowned animation studios in Japan, which has since been rearranged into Production I.G. I.G.'s illustrious credits include Patlabor, Ghost in the Shell, Blue Seed, Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Every Day is Sunday, Heroic Legend of Arslan, Weathering Continent, Dragon Half, Please Save My Earth, Bakuen Campus Guardress, Bakuretsu Hunter, and Nadesico. I.G. is still quite active in anime and Playstation games, and has worked on Oshii's Jinroh and the upcoming movie Blood. Scott Frazier, among the most respected Westerners to have ever been an animator (and even producer) for the anime industry, worked with I.G. and was head of its U.S. operations for a while.
The screenplay for episodes one and five of VGAi were done by Akahori Satoru, one of the most popular sci-fi/fantasy authors in Japan. Anime based on his works include Maze, Bakuretsu Hunter, KO Century Beast, Bakuen Campus Guardress, the Lamune series, the Saber Marionette series, and Master Mosquiton. Such "cameo" appearances are not uncommon during anime production; one such cameo to look forward to is Nadesico-director Satou Tatsuo's cameo as screenwriter for KareKano episode 25.
And what anime would be complete without good seiyuu? The title role is played by Hayashibara Megumi, super seiyuu whose immense list of credits includes Ayanami Rei (Eva), Nuku Nuku (All-Purpose Cultural Cat Girl), Pai (Sazan Eyes), Ranma-chan (Ranma ˝), Lina Inverse (Slayers), and Lime (Saber Marionette J). Moemi is voiced by Amano Yuri, no slouch either with credits including: Ifurita (El-Hazard), Kiyone (Tenchi Muyo!), Yukimuri Keiko (Yuu Yuu Hakusho), and Charlotte in LoGH. Youta is voiced by Kusao Takeshi, a super-veteran who has voiced characters as disparate as Parn (Record of Lodoss War), Saionji Kyouichi (Shoujo Kakumei Utena), Lamuness (Lamune & 40 series), and Yukino's father Hiroyuki in KareKano. Even the manager of Gokuraku is played by someone famous: Ogata Ken'ichi, whose roles include: Saotome Genma (Ranma ˝), Azaka (Tenchi Muyo!), Ataru's father (Urusei Yatsura), Marinesk (LoGH), and Jingoro (Kimagure Orange Road). Definitely an all-star cast.
The long and short of it is: sit back, enjoy the show, and be grateful that Video Girl Ai was made during the height of the OVA boom, when companies like Jump Video were willing to shell out for the really good staffers to make OVAs in promotion of their manga titles.