Mania Grade: B-
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- Art Rating: C+
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Text/Translatin Rating: A
- Age Rating: 16 & Up
- Released By: TOKYOPOP
- MSRP: 9.99
- Pages: 224
- ISBN: 1591826152
- Size: B6
- Orientation: Right to Left
A.I. Love You (aka: A.I. ga Tomaranai) Vol. #01
By Mike Dungan
January 06, 2005
Release Date: February 01, 2004
A.I. Love You (aka: A.I. ga Tomaranai) Vol.#01
Translated by:David Ury
Adapted by:What They Say
Behind every great man is a great artificial intelligence. Hitoshi Kobe is a poor student, a bad athlete and may be the unluckiest man alive... though he does have a knack for creating Artificial Intelligences. Number Thirty is Hitoshi's favorite A.I. and the only girl he can talk to. If a freak accident can turn Thirty into a real girl, can Thirty turn Hitoshi into a real man?The Review
The Review: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Just like the back cover copy says, Hitoshi Kobe doesn't have much going for him. He's a bit of a nerd, and not at all socially gifted. He has a crush on Kimika Aso, the most beautiful and popular girl in school. So it's a real shock when he finds a love letter from her in his locker. When it turns out to be a trick that gets him in trouble at school, it just seems like more of the same to him. His life is nothing but bad luck. If it wasn't for his skills as a programmer, his life would be hell. He's so good at programming, he's created an artificial intelligence in his computer called Program 30. Thirty is a simulation of a cute girl, and she's the only one he can talk to. One night during an electrical storm, there is a malfunction, and Thirty comes out of the computer. Now he's got a real live naked girl in his arms who has promised to be his girlfriend.
She's the perfect girlfriend. She's beautiful, smart, devoted and even cooks his meals. Except that she is a terrible cook. It all looks good, but that's all. It's totally inedible. Her bad cooking ends up being a running gag through the book. Not knowing what else to do with her, he takes her to school with him, where she's an immediate smash hit with everyone, and Hitoshi's stock goes up accordingly. When she introduces herself to the class, she calls herself "Number Thirty", but because of Japanese naming conventions where the family name is placed first and how how the name is spelled in katakana, it sounds like she's saying her name is "Saati Namba", and that's the name she registers in school under. Saati helps Hitoshi become more successful in class and in sports, but her sudden popularity doesn't sit well with Kimika Aso, who trails the two of them, trying to find something to use against them. She finally gets her break, but it backfires against her.
Now that Hitoshi's got a totally awesome girlfriend, the next step is to get laid! He plans a date with her that, according to the dating magazine article he's following, should end up with the two of them at a love hotel. The date goes well, but maybe just a little too well. Next, Saati needs to find a club at school to join, but every club visit turns into disaster. When she shows up at the tennis club which Kimika is a member of, Kimika decides to to put time Saati in her place with a "friendly" game. Once again, her scheming backfires on her.
On a rare day off from school, Hitoshi and Saati take a trip to a beach, Saati's first ever view of the ocean. While there, they meet a bratty little kid who's unhappy about all the litter on the beach. Hitoshi and Saati decide to do something about it and shut the kid up at the same time.
One morning, Saati discovers a new program in her computer and runs it. The rest of the day, she's not feeling well, and her programs don't run like they should. It's apparent there is a virus in her program and it's slowly taking over. Hitoshi soon learns it's called Peter 4, and it manifests itself on his monitor as an evil clown. It's infected Saati and will wipe out her program in only an hour. As Hitoshi struggles to isolate and eliminate the virus, he begins to understand just how important Saati is to him.
Finally, a problem with his back account forces Hitoshi to send Saati into cyberspace to correct the mistake. The internet looks just like the ocean to her, as she swims from site to site. She sets to work correcting the mistake, but she's interrupted by some security programs, and it's a race to get finished and out of there before she's caught or Hitoshi's internet connection times out.Comments
"AI ga Tomaranai" as it was called in Japanese, was "Love Hina" creator Ken Akamatsu's first manga, and as such, it's considerably more amatuerish in feel. The gorgeous character designs he's so famous for were a long way off when this title debuted. It has more of a feel of a doujinshi than a professionally produced manga. That's not to say it's ugly. It's just that if you only know Akamatsu's art from "Love Hina" or "Negima", you might be disappointed. The stories have a similar amatuerish feel with somewhat predictable plots to them. There's plenty of the comedy you expect from Akamatsu, but the only story that had any realy excitement to it was the two-part story with the virus, Peter 4.
Tokyopop has done better with A.I. Love You than they did with Love Hina. While the art reproduction is still barely adequate, the editing of artwork when removing Japanese text is done much better. Also, the English adaptation is much better. Where Love Hina suffered from overly enthusiastic and totally unnecessary rewriting. the adaptation here sticks much closer to the original story without sacrificing any readability. Interestingly, the adapatation is rather raunchy at times, but it's totally approriate to the story. When Ai ga Tomaranai was released in Japan, it was originally published in 8 volumes. When Love Hina became a smash hit, the renewed interest in Akamatsu's earlier title caused the publisher to reprint the books in a new format of 7 books with new artwork for the covers. Tokyopop licensed the 7 volume release, which saves the reader a few dollars. I own the 8 volume original release, and all I can say is that we dodged a bullet. The original covers are terrible, both in art and design. The new covers are much better with vastly improved art, using the cyberspace sea motif of the last chapter in the book. The original title, "AI ga Tomaranai" roughly translates as "Can't Stop Love" and uses a pun based on A.I. "Artificial Intelligence" and the Japanese word for love, "ai". The English title is an acceptable compromise and even uses a pun on A.I. The cover is a matte finish, with the spine, title, author name and volume number all in a gloss finish. It's pleasing to both the eye and touch. The front of the book has an introduction to the title from Adam Arnold, and the back has extra art pages. There are a couple of interviews with Ken Akamatsu spread throughout the book, where he talks about the story and it's evolution.
If you buy A.I. Love You expecting the same gorgeous art of Love Hina or Negima, you're going to be disappointed. But there are flashes of it here and there. As the title progesses, the art style and writing will both improve considerably. One just has to get past the rather rocky start. Tokyopop has done a good job with this title, treating it far better than Love Hina. Akamatsu fans won't want to do without it, if only to watch the evolution of his art style.