Some time around Christmas, while I was browsing TV Tropes, I remember stumbling upon Aishite Night (愛してナイト and it’s sometimes romanised as Aishite Knight, but I can write an entire essay as to why I don’t think it should be).
I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of it but, if you happened to grow up in continental Europe during the late 80s and early 90s, you may have heard of it under a name like “Rock’n Roll Kids“, “Lucile, Amour et Rock’n Roll” and “Kiss Me Licia“, among many others. I’m told that it was even popular enough in Italy to get a 145 episode long live-action drama (I feel like I might have to check that out at some point).
The story itself more-or-less follows the story told in the manga of the same name by Kaoru Tada (same mangaka as Itazura no Kiss), although it does differ quite a bit (but not ridiculously).
The main character Yakko is a cheerful 18 year old girl in Osaka who helps out at her dad’s okonomiyaki restaurant, while attending evening school classes. A series of encounters with a child called Hashizou and his “woman hating” cat (I’m actually quoting from an episode title) named Julliano leads to Yakko becoming involved with Satomi (a regular at the restaurant) and Gou (Hashizou’s brother), two guys in a rock band called BEEHIVE.
Medium length story short, it ends up in a rather messy love triangle.
Before I continue, I just have a few things to get out of my system…
Maybe Yakko should actually listen to her dad occasionally whenever he shouts “WATCH OUT FOR CARS AND MEN!”. And while I’m at it, Gou and Satomi should seriously learn the concept of ‘bros before hoes’. You can’t jeopardise your band’s entire existence just because you think your friend is hitting on the girl you like, even though he’s already said he’s not interested. *sigh* I do admit that quite a lot of plot points are born from this, like one of my favourite scenes, when Hashizou apologises for his stomach growling at school because Gou (who at this point has hit rock bottom) was too hungover to wake up in time to cook breakfast. It’s still used way to much for the first half of the series.
But Hashizou, I know you’re cute and all but please stop trying to do something to get Gou and Yakko together. It always just ends in some kind of awkward misunderstanding or tension.
Speaking of awkward tension, whenever there’s an awkward moment, Yakko just takes off into the sunset. I don’t really have a problem with it, but I just laugh every time it happens.
Cliché plot and random thoughts aside, something they definitely have to be praised for is that they bothered to make original songs for the bands in the series. Aishite Night was actually the first anime to ever do such a thing, and it wasn’t just one song, but an entire album’s worth. You might get a bit tired of listening to them singing “FREEWAY! FREEWAY!” and “Burst into flames (FIRE!)” over and over again but, having listened to ‘Guilty Love’ almost on repeat while playing Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, I can safely say that it’s nowhere near unbearable. In fact, I actually really like the songs, so much that I spent nearly three hours looking for the soundtrack ( who knew old anime OST is so damn hard to find).
Sure, the art and animation is nothing to write home about and the plot itself seems to be an early incarnation of an endless number of clichés and tropes native to the shoujo genre but there is still a certain charm to it that I couldn’t help but smile at no matter how ridiculous it got (seriously).
Despite its flaws, this show is severely lacking in the attention it deserves. It’s not surprising, considering it’s a shoujo anime from the ’80s but it’s still a shame that it doesn’t get more love.
Part of the reason may be something to do with the fact that no one ever bothered to make an English language release of the anime or manga. Even though the original author Kaoru Tada later became extremely well known for her later work, Itazura no Kiss (Mischievous Kiss), which received an anime and many drama adaptations in multiple countries, no one’s even tried to publish the manga in English in recent years. Heck, I tried buying the manga in French but I can’t even find the second volume for less than €90.
You should definitely check out Aishite Night (if you can find it). But enough about obscure retro anime. I’m really in the mood to attempt making some okonomiyaki…