Ai Shite Knight
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|Ai Shite Knight|
Cover art from the manga Ai Shite Night
|Genre||Comedy, Romance, Music|
|Written by||Kaoru Tada|
|Original run||1982 – 1984|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Osamu Kasai|
|Original run||March 1, 1983 – January 24, 1984|
Ai Shite Knight (愛してナイト Aishite Naito , lit. "Love me [my] Knight") is a shōjo manga created in the early 1980s by Kaoru Tada. An anime version of the story in 42 episodes was also produced in 1983-1984 by Toei Animation, and features episodes supervised by Shingo Araki (a well-known character designer who worked on many other Toei series, such as Cutey Honey, Majokko Megu-chan, and Saint Seiya).
Plot summary 
"Ai Shite Knight" is set in Osaka, and tells the story of Yaeko "Yakko" Mitamura, an 18 year old girl working in her father's Okonomiyaki restaurant. One day Yakko casually meets a little boy, Hashizo, and his odd cat Juliano. Hashizo has lost both parents when still a baby and has been brought up by his elder brother. Hashizo's brother Go Kato is the lead singer of the emerging rock band "Bee Hive". When Yakko meets Go and his friend and "Bee Hive" member Satomi Okawa an unexpected series of events and a tangled romance unfolds.
Whereas the main narrative of "Ai Shite Knight" is essentially based on a love story, interesting and innovative elements were introduced by Kaoru Tada, most notably the portrayal of the Japanese music scene in the early '80s. In creating characters such as Go, Satomi and their band "Bee Hive", Tada was inspired by well-known bands of the time such as "The Stalin", "Novela", "Primadonna" and "44Magnum". Tada also plays with sexual provocation and ambiguity, mainly embodied by the character of "Kiss Relish" vocalist Kazuma Kataoka/Sheila, although these elements were considerably toned down in the anime version of the story.
- Yaeko (Yakko) Mitamura (三田村 八重子 Mitamura Yaeko ) Voiced by: Mitsuko Horie
- 18 years old at the beginning of the story, Yakko works at her father's okonomiyaki restaurant "Mambo" in Osaka as well as attending evening classes at the university. Yakko is romantic and a little naive, and she is flattered by the attention paid to her by one of the regular customers of her father's restaurant, handsome and long-haired Satomi Okawa. One day she casually meets two people that will change her life: Go Kato and his little brother Hashizo. Yakko soon discovers that Go and Satomi are friends and both members of an emerging rock band, "Bee Hive". She is attracted to them both, but soon she will have to make a choice between them. She becomes Go's girlfriend, although his career as a musician causes more than one problem for their relationship.
- Go Kato (加藤 剛 Katō Gō ) Voiced by: Isao Sasaki
- Go is the lead singer of "Bee Hive" and a student at the university. He lives with his little brother Hashizo in a small apartment and he is trying to become a professional and successful musician. He is cocky but charming, and has a reputation of being a playboy. However, when he falls in love with Yakko, he becomes totally devoted to her, although he has to struggle juggling his musical career and taking care of his girlfriend.
- Hashizo Kato (加藤 橋蔵 Katō Hashizō ) Voiced by: Yūko Mita
- his real name is actually Hideki, but he was renamed "Hashizo" by his brother Go when he went to live with him after the death of his parents. Hashizo is actually Go's half-brother, being the son of Go's father and his mistress. After their death in car crash, Go decided to look after his baby brother although still very young himself, and they have been living together ever since. Hashizo is a very responsible little boy and, because of Go's career as a musician, he spends a lot of time alone with his best friend, the cat Juliano. When he meets Yakko, he becomes very attached to her, and the "Mambo" becomes his second home.
- he is Hashizo's cat, his pet and also best friend. Juliano is very intelligent and faithful, although grumpy and diffident of strangers. He provides comic relief throughout the story.
- Satomi Okawa (大川 里美 Ōkawa Satomi ) Voiced by: Katsuji Mori
- Go's best friend and keyboard player of "Bee Hive", he comes from a wealthy family and is an incredibly talented musician. Opposite to Go, he is calm and more introverted. He is also a university student and gives private keyboard lessons in his spare time. He falls in love with Yakko even before Go does, and when he finds out that Go is also after Yakko, he leaves the band for some time. He finally realises that Yakko has chosen Go, and he returns to the band. He helps Yakko and Go throughout difficult times as a good and faithful friend.
- Shigemaro Mitamura (三田村 しげまろ Mitamura Shigemaro )
- Shigemaro is Yakko's father and owner of the okonomiyakia "Mambo". A widower since Yakko was very young, he has raised her practically on his own. He is very attached to his only daughter and, being somewhat narrow-minded and conservative, opposes her involvement with a rock musician such as Go. Shige-san is very fond of Hashizo and Juliano, and -in the end- he accepts Go as well. He is a great fan of enka.
- Isuzu Fujita (藤田 五十鈴 Fujita Isuzu )
- Isuzu is Yakko's best friend and fellow student. She is a beautiful and outgoing girl, and a big fan of "Bee Hive" since their beginnings. She has a crush on Go and tries to seduce him, although he turns her down for Yakko. After getting over losing Go to her friend, she falls for "Bee Hive" guitarist Eiji Tono and eventually marries him.
- Meiko Kajiwara (梶原 芽衣子 Kajiwara Meiko )
- Meiko is Satomi's admirer and fan. To be closer to him, she pays him to give her private keyboard lessons, although he is oblivious to the fact that she really is in love with him. Meiko also joins an amateur rock band and finally finds a musician boyfriend, although her feelings for Satomi have not entirely disappeared.
- Kazuma Kataoka (Sheila)
- Sheila is the leader of "Kiss Relish", a popular rock band and "Bee Hive"'s most dangerous competitors. Sheila plays with innuendo, camp and sexual ambiguity; he apparently has a crush on Go and always tries to embarrass him by hugging and kissing him in public. In reality, Sheila is married to the "Kiss Relish" manager Marino. A very talented singer, Sheila becomes Go and Yakko's good friend and advises Go on his musical career.
- Ryotaro Kitaoji
- The leader of the punk band Insuubunkai, he becomes Shige-san's assistant at "Mambo" by a strategem. He makes Shige-san believe that he is an orphan looking for a job and lodgings; in reality Ryotaro has run away from home to play with his punk band and is only 17 years old. He is the cause of much trouble between Yakko and Go, relentlessly pursuing Yakko and challenging Go.
- Eiji Tono (東野 英次 Tōno Eiji )
- Eiji is "Bee Hive"'s guitar player. He marries Yakko's friend Isuzu Fujita.
- Hiroyuki Sugi
- Hiroyuki is "Bee Hive"'s bass player. He briefly leaves the band to return to Kyoto, his hometown, and take over his parents' business with his fiancee' Izumi, but he comes back, encouraged by Izumi, when his friends need him the most.
- Shin'ichi Matsudaira
- Shin'ichi is the "Bee Hive"'s drummer.
- Marino Kataoka
- Marino is the manager of "Kiss Relish" and wife of Sheila. During the series the couple has a baby daughter, Hatoko.
- Kaoru Chiba and Gonta Sanada
- Kaoru and Gonta both attend playschool with Hashizo. Kaoru has a crush on Hashizo, whereas Gonta is trying to attract the little girl's attention to himself. When Hashizo helps Gonta in a difficult situation, he decides to repay him by ensuring his and Kaoru's happiness at all costs.
- Yoko Kato
- Yoko is Go's mother. The two of them are not very close, as Yoko still hasn't quite overcome her hard feelings towards Hashizo, the son that her husband had with his mistress. Capricious and temperamental, Yoko does not approve of Go's choice of girlfriend and gives Yakko a hard time.
- Yamadazaka is the manager of "Bee Hive". His main interest is making the band successful and Go into a rock star. He does not hesitate to interfere into the members' private lives to achieve his goal.
The anime version of "Ai Shite Knight" was produced by Toei Animation in 1983-1984, for a total of 42 episodes directed by Osamu Kasai, a veteran Toei director. The "Ai Shite Knight" anime presents some significant changes in the storyline and modifications in the characters' stories, and covers only one part of the story narrated by Tada in the manga. It was targeted on a younger audience than that of the manga, some aspects were subsequently toned down and simplified.
One notable difference between the graphic style of the manga and that of the anime is in the characters' hair colors. The hair of both Yakko and Hashizou is frequently shown as blond in Tada's colorized manga artwork. In the anime, Hashizou has blue hair and Yakko has reddish-brown hair. However, Yakko was drawn as a blonde in the anime's opening sequence, which perhaps confused some European viewers who hadn't read or heard of the original manga.
Famous voice actress and pop idol Mitsuko Horie provided the voice of Yakko in the anime. Isao Suzuki was the voice of Go, Katsuji Mori of Satomi, Takeshi Aono of Shige-San, and Yūko Mita of Hashizo. Masa Amamori provided the voice of Juliano. Mitsuko Horie also sang "Koi wa Totsuzen" ("Love is sudden"), the song featuring in the opening credits of each episode.
The main reason why the anime version of "Ai Shite Knight" is particularly famous is because it features, for the first time ever, original songs within the episodes, a plot device which will be very successful in subsequent anime series such as Mahou no Tenshi Creamy Mami and -more recently- Nana. The songs were performed by "Bee Hive" and the rival band "Kiss Relish" and they were so successful to be released in an album. Joe Hisaishi, who has composed the music for Hayao Miyazaki's movies, collaborated with composer Nozomu Aoki in writing and arranging the songs. The original songs featured in the anime are:
Performed by "Bee Hive"
- Rockin' all night
- Midnight Rock'n'Roll Star
- Lonely Boy
- Baby, I Love You
- Someday on Sunday
- Love Again
Performed by "Kiss Relish"
- Let Me Feel
A collection of all the original songs featured in an album called Debut-Bee Hive which was produced in Japan immediately after the end of the anime series. Subsequently, a tribute album titled Aishite Night - Hit Kyoku Shu "Yakko, I Love You" was also released, and it included the opening and closing songs of the series, as well as tribute songs for the various characters arranged on some of the background music used throughout the anime.
The anime also became extremely popular in Europe with the title "Rock'n'roll kids" in Germany, "Embrasse-moi, Lucile" and "Lucile, Amour et Rock 'n Roll" in France, and "Kiss me Licia" in Italy, as well as "Bésame Licia" in Spanish. In fact, the anime series was so popular in Italy that it spawned a domestically-produced live-action teen soap opera, which ran for 145 episodes through four seasons ("Love me Licia," "Licia dolce Licia," "Teneramente Licia," and "Balliamo e cantiamo con Licia") on Italian TV from 1986 to 1988. Cristina D'Avena, who performed the Italian theme song to the anime series, played Licia (Yakko) in the live-action version.
Versions of the songs in several languages also exist because of the popularity of "Ai Shite Knight" outside of Japan. In Italy and Switzerland, "Bee Hive" became teenagers' idols, epecially when the live action sequels to "Ai Shite Knight" were aired and featured new songs performed by the band, which were awarded even gold and platinum discs. The "Bee Hive" members in the live action series were:
- vocals Go/Mirko Pasquale Finicelli (voiced by Enzo Draghi)
- keyboards Satomi Sebastian Harrison
- drums Matsudaira/Matt Manuel De Peppe
- bass Sugi/Steve Marco Bellavia
- guitar Tono/Tony Giovanni Colombo
Manuel De Peppe, Marco Bellavia and Giovanni Colombo left for the third season, so three new characters were introduced:
Marco Bellavia returned for the fourth and final season.