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Last checked: July 26, 2017
Ai Yori Aoshi (藍より青し) is a Japanese seinen manga written and illustrated by Kou Fumizuki and serialized from 1998 to 2005 in Hakusensha's Young Animal. It is a love story between two characters who haven't seen each other in years but were once childhood friends. Literally translated, the title means "Bluer Than Indigo".
Ai Yori Aoshi was directed by Masami Shimoda and animated by J.C.Staff. The series was made into an anime in 2002, with a 2003 sequel, Ai Yori Aoshi: Enishi (藍より青し ～縁～), set two years later. There are 37 episodes total, counting an alternate-continuity Christmas special. The anime was released in North America by Geneon, and the manga was released in English by Tokyopop. Four visual novels were also released for the PlayStation 2, and for Windows 98.
Kaoru Hanabishi appears to be an average university student, but in reality, he's the eldest son of Yūji Hanabishi, the head of the Hanabishi Zaibatsu, and was set to take over the zaibatsu after his father retired. His mother, Kumi Honjō, and his father never married, making life difficult for both him and his mother. Kaoru's father died when he was five years old. Since then, Yūji's grandfather, Gen'ichiro Hanabishi, took Kaoru under his wing and began educating him for the eventual succession. Yet Kaoru never felt at home in the Hanabishi family and left to live alone in self-imposed exile after his mother died. Day by day he felt alone, thinking that he was living life with no reason pushing him on. There was, however, a person who loved Kaoru so much that she had to do whatever was necessary to be with him. Her name is Aoi Sakuraba. Aoi is the only daughter of the owner of the Sakuraba Kimono (Dry Goods in the manga) Store (later renamed to Sakuraba Department Store). Kaoru's family and Aoi's family had accepted for Kaoru to marry Aoi, but after Kaoru walked out, the marriage was canceled. Both families had a friendly relationship and Aoi had been in love with Kaoru from the start, which Kaoru was unaware of. The Sakuraba family had already been searching for someone suitable, but Aoi was unwilling to marry someone else and walked out, chasing Kaoru.
Both were freed from their families' affairs, but did not know how to make their living. Miyabi Kagurazaki, who had been looking out for Aoi, offered the two a way. Aoi and Miyabi would live together in a grand western style summer house owned by the Sakuraba family and Kaoru would live in a house for servants next to it. This would prevent a scandal, much like the one that had made Kaoru's life difficult, as the two would be living separately. But soon, Kaoru's friends, who just happen to be attractive females, took residence in the house, and it quickly became a dormitory. Very soon, Aoi became a landlady of the dormitory.
Kaoru eventually comes to terms with his painful past by confronting the Hanabishis. Later, Kaoru's half brother attempts to gain control of the Hanabishi Zaibatsu by marrying Aoi, but Kaoru meets her father who accepts Aoi's relationship with him, foiling his half-brother's plan. The series ends with Kaoru and Aoi having their long awaited wedding.