Saturday, March 24, 2007

Ai Yori Aoshi

Kaoru was a normal, everyday, college student. He went to classes, lived alone in his apartment, and didn't eat all that well. One chance meeting at the train station changed it all, when the girl he was given to when he was a child shows up, wanting to keep that promise. What's a guy supposed to do?

Ai Yori Aoshi is a good series that combines older conventions with modern conventions. Drawn and written by the mankaga Kou Fumizuki. The story is about the disowned heir to the Hanabishi Clan, Kaouru Hanabishi. Throughout the series he attracts many women – at one point, there are six women chasing him. What separates Ai Yori Aoshi from your normal harem anime is that Kaoru has already made his choice, which was made clear at the beginning. This is an old convention where there are two love interests but one love interest is shown from the beginning to be the one the main character chooses. You can see this very plainly in animes like Macross (English version called Robotech). It also separates away from the (anime/manga) Love Hina. This is shown by Kaoru not being everyone's punching bag and the gags don't repeat over and over again. Unlike a lot of similar series, Ai Yori Aoshi doesn't get repetitive and boring. Kaoru's struggle to be with Aoi becomes more and more difficult as their families try to pull them apart.

This is beautifully drawn, and well translated, as I'm told by several sources. It was translated by Alethea and Athena Nibley, friends of my roommate Scott's, whom I lovingly dubbed Japan boy in the review of Red Steel.

Even though it is a decent series full of tenderness and caring, it has a few problems that really retract from the story. For some reason, there's a mandatory nude scene in every issue. This is especially prominent in the most recent issue, when three characters have a conversation completely nude where they had no reason to be having that conversation right there. It was a conscious choice and it made little sense, sometimes he seems to go out of his way to show nude women. This really distracts from the story
because it seems slapped in the story. The amount of fan service (purposefully perverted moments that don't add to the story) also distracts from the story. I know it should be expected after several predecessors, but I was hoping that it would move away from the need for constant large-breasted, mostly or completely naked women along with its other moves away from standard manga.

The other major problem is that the characters will sometimes change suddenly, as the back story fills in. In the beginning of the manga, Kaoru almost shows contempt for Tina, saying that her looks is "all she's got." Towards the end of the story, they talk about what good friends they used to be and how they are going to miss each other. The change in how they see their relationship is too sudden. On the other hand, this series handles personal growth very well. You can see the characters growing into people, with multiple facets in their personalities developing. However some characters remain stagnant. You can see Tina, Kaoru and Aoi change, in a little way you can see Miyabi grow, but the other characters seem to be rooted in their personalities and show no change. This was annoying because those characters were also always present. If they were minor characters, it would be one thing; Chika, Taeko, and Mayu are always there. This manga would be a lot better if all those characters would be more to the side.

All and all, if you want a well drawn, sweet, romantic manga, this is a good choice, if you can get beyond the fan service and the problems with character growth. its story of a beautiful young women trying to marry the man of her dreams is wonderful.


  1. Well Drawn
  2. Sweet story
  3. Well translated
  4. Loveable characters that seem to jump off the page
  5. Keeps you coming back for more


  1. To much fan service
  2. Mandatory nudity that just doesn't make sense for this story
  3. Character growth problems

This series gets a , B it's better then average, but not the best.

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