Ai yori Aoshi Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 226
  • Size: Tall B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Ai yori Aoshi Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     January 15, 2004
Release Date: January 06, 2004


Ai yori Aoshi Vol.#01
© TOKYOPOP


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Fumizuki Kou
Translated by:Althea and Althena Nibley
Adapted by:

What They Say
Just as Kaoru Hanabishi resigns himself to going through his college years alone, he runs into the childhood friend he hasn't seen since he left home. Her name is Aoi Sakuraba and she has come to be his wife.

The Review
Packaging:
The front cover features Ai from the original cover art, blown up a bit and placed on a flowery background. Nice! On the back, there is a framed image of Ai from the original as well. Nice. This is the first time TP has dust jacket art on the insides of its GN's covers. For some reason inside the front cover there is only the logo (Japanese art is missing) and inside the back cover is an SD version of Ai in her trademark indigo kimono. Nice but I was disappointed with half the art missing. Logo Check!!! (2003 Megs).... Is the original logo!! Well what do you know, that looks really nice. Kanji and Kana are intact with ruby text in English for those of us that cannot read Japanese. I really wish studios would do this more often with some of the nicer looking kana/kanji logos. There are a few notes at the start and the end of the GN but with the page numbers being wrong things were a little hard to find.
Printing is not great. While this is not bad it?s still a bit off all the time. It really shows in the tone. It almost looked like it had vertical bars in some of the lighter gradients.

Artwork:
Fumizuki's character designs are tons of fun. While his lines are at times too thick, his characters have a cute look to them. There is nothing really fancy about them. Always to scale, sometimes a little bulky at the shoulders, and with some of the sharpest noses around, these characters look good with or without clothing, SD or not. Some people familiar with the Iwakura Kazunori (Ai yori Aoshi, Louie the Rune Soldier, Alien 9) designs for the anime. These are a little different. Kaoru looks a lot different here. Eyes are smaller, shoulders broader and has an older look in general to the one presented by JC Staff. I like Fumizuki's designs, as these characters are college age. Some like Kaoru, Tina and their photo club comrades are wrecks and they really look the part in the manga.
The layout in AyA is really simple. There is nothing wrong with it as there is very little action here but even though this volume is not dialogue heavy I never really go interested in the art. This was a little disappointing because the background art is pretty good. One can easily feel how small Kaoru's place is if you look closely enough (but with the simple layout you might miss it).

Orientation/SFX:
Right to left.
SFX are not translated. Why? This series is not full of action so its not full of SFX but I would still like to have my English speaking friends get the whole picture in regard to what they are reading.

Text:
This is probably one of the best translations that TOKYOPOP has ever done. Yeah there were a couple grammar/spelling errors and yeah it's not a perfect "direct" translation (yes there are about three sentences omitted from the original text. let me know if you want to know them.) But there were times where the translation was in general spot on! Honorifics are left in and even obscure references like "ojou" (young mistress) were left in. TP provided a solid note section but since the pages were not re-numbered readers might have trouble finding some of the things mentioned in the notes.

Contents(Watch out spoilers ahead)
Volume 1 is much of what was presented in the first episodes of the TV series (currently on DVD from Geneon).
On his way home from school Hanabishi Kaoru runs into a young lady in distress. She's dressed in a kimono in Tokyo's Ikebukuro station and is lost and confused. A few good deeds later, Kaoru was now accompanying Sakuaraba Aoi to his neighborhood in search of a long lost friend. This friend happens to be someone very special to Aoi. He happens to be someone she was supposed to marry someday. Someone she trained everyday to care for and love, even though their marriage was arranged eighteen years ago. When they cannot locate him, these two strangers end up realizing that the person Aoi was looking for had been right next to her all this time. Kaoru is Aoi's fiancÚ, and Aoi had made the trip as she felt she was ready to be his wife.
You can imagine this was a surprise to Kaoru. The guy has had trouble with his past and he was not too sure if she was trying to pull him back in or not. Kaoru, like Aoi, was raised as the heir to a conglomerate. He is an illegitimate child and has always felt that he was not a part of the family that raised him. So soon after both his parents past away he felt he had no choice than to leave the Hanabishi's. He does not have any regrets for what he has done, but it is obvious that he does resent the Hanabishi's for their treatment of his mother.
Having Aoi in his life could have meant going back to the family he hated. And soon enough when the Sakuraba's arrive to take Aoi back home, she begs him to return. He just had no where to go back to.
Aoi was devastated at first but in the end she understood the horrible position he was put in. The scars on Kaoru's back are more than enough reason. But her whole life has been building up to this moment. She could not give up on him and she too made a decision. She was going to leave her family as well to be with Kaoru. If he would have her, she would never leave his side again.
Vol. 1 really sets up the series and gives readers a nice chunk of history behind the two main characters. The romance is already there and because of the circumstances has a lot of room to grow.

After reading the first volume I felt pretty good about this purchase. I have been weary of TP titles recently and this being one of my favorite manga titles I was worried about how TP would handle this. A good translation, with a nice presentation made for a solid package. I really have no issues with what TP has done. It's just a solid presentation and a good representation of a solid translated manga.
Having said that AyA itself is possibly at its best right here. The romance has a lot of potential as the characters are just getting to know each other. They have to go through the issues that they have grown up with, the problems they still struggle with, and in the end they make decisions that will determine their future together. While all of that is risky, it makes for some good reading. AyA could be a very good series like this but with new characters and the relationships that they bring AyA becomes a little more accessible to the masses and a little more light-hearted. There is nothing wrong with that (I am a big Tina fan) but one can only wonder.

For those of you looking for a solid seinen romance volume one is very good. Cute characters, cultural issues, and a dark past makes for a good time.
For those of you looking for more comedy, you'll have to wait. If you saw the anime, you'll know by now that once Tina is introduced the comedy level quickly shots up and does not stop.

Me, I picked up this series because of this volume and even with all the characters I am still sticking around. The seinen romance is almost dead. Maison Ikkoku is one of the best in that category but not too many manga are that good. AyA is not Maison Ikkoku. It's not Love Hina (which is something I hear quite often), either. It's a romance with a lot of comedy. Sometimes you have to look for the romance but when you find it, it's a treat.

good stuff

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