Mania Grade: A-
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- Art Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: A
- Text/Translatin Rating: B+
- Age Rating: 16 & Up
- Released By: TOKYOPOP
- MSRP: 9.99
- Pages: 208
- ISBN: 1591826462
- Size: B6
- Orientation: Right to Left
Ai yori Aoshi Vol. #02
By Mike Dungan
May 25, 2004
Release Date: March 01, 2004
Ai yori Aoshi Vol.#02
Translated by:Alethea Nibley, Athena Nibley
Adapted by:What They Say
When the beautiful Aoi stepped into Kaoru's life, he encountered all of the complications of cohabitation with none of the fun under the sheets. To add to the stress, a new roommate, the Japanese raised American Tina, tempts Kaoru with her open flirtation. In this comedy of eros, will Aoi and Kaoru see that they are two fo a kind? Or will Tina make for a full house?The Review
The Review: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Volume 2 picks up where volume 1 left off. Beautiful, wealthy and sheltered Aoi Sakuraba has been given permission to live with Kaoru Hanabishi, estranged adopted son of the the conservative and powerful Hanabishi clan. Due to the loveless and cruel atmosphere of the Hanabishi household, Kaoru has left and is now attending his second year of college on his own, working part-time jobs to pay his tuition and rent. At one point, Kaoru and Aoi were engaged to each other in an arranged marriage between their two houses, but with Kaoru having left the Hanabishi, the marriage is off. Aoi, who has been deeply in love with Kaoru since they first met as children, is unwilling to let go of him. Now, with her mother's intervention, she has been allowed to return to Kaoru's side.
Things are not the clear sailing either imagined, though. First, their relationship must be kept secret to protect the Sakuraba family. Second, they are now living in a western-style mansion with Kaoru living in the servant's quarters, and Miyabi Sakurazaka, Aoi's formidable if stunningly beautiful minder, keeping an eye on him at all times. To outside eyes, it looks as if Aoi is the landlady, Miyabi the manager, and Kaoru the tenant, and Miyabi is there to make sure that pretense continues.
In the first chapter, Miyabi learns what Aoi's idea of family is, which flusters and flatters her to no end. In the second chapter, the story moves to college, where we get to meet Kaoru's fellow photoclub members. First is brawny giant, train-buff and club president, Suzuki. Next is pudgy cosplay-maniac and club vice-president Sato. More importantly, though, we meet Tina and Taeko. Tina Foster is a blonde, busty American who's been raised in Japan and speaks the language perfectly. After convincing the new freshman Kaoru to join the photo club, if in name only, she left to travel around the world, and has just returned. Taeko is the massively endowed and amazingly clumsy Taeko, who has just joined the club to learn to be a photographer. Unfortunately for her, Sato sees her as the perfect model for all his cosplay fantasies. Tina is loud, brash, and openly taken with Kaoru. Her return to Japan leads to an impromptu party, and Kaoru is unable to call Aoi to let her know he'll be late. The drunk Tina drags the even drunker Kaoru home where they're discovered in the morning. Miyabi's bluff of a rental notice is called by Tina, who ends up moving into another room in the servant's quarters.
This new tenant leads to misunderstandings, but more importantly, Aoi begins to realize how many memories Kaoru has with other people, stories she's never heard and time she's never spent with him.
The next two chapters involve a club trip to a hot springs to welcome the return of Tina and new member Taeko. Aoi is invited as well, and there is plenty of fanservice in the water as the girls get naked and talk. The evening's drinking leads to a dare for Taeko to go out and photograph a ghost. When she doesn't return, the concerned Kaoru and Aoi go looking for her. This leads to a night out together, and a quiet moment for both of them.
In the next chapter, the incredibly clumsy but earnest Taeko tries to get a job as a live-in maid at the mansion where Aoi lives, much to Miyabi's dismay.
The next three chapters involve the culture festival at Kaoru's college. The photo club is hosting a cosplay teahouse with the theme being animals. This leads to some nosebleedinly excellent fanservice involving Tina and Taeko, as well as Aoi looking adorable in cat-ears. Tina takes the animal thing too far, though, and the first day has to be written off. Aoi's excellent tea leads President Suzuki to come up with the idea of starting the teahouse over as "Traditional Japanese Teahouse Aoi." Aoi must first show Tina and Taeko how to dress in kimonos, then teach everyone the tea ceremony. The traditional clothes everyone has to wear brings up overwhelmingly painful memories in Kaoru, which only Aoi notices. The teahouse ends up being a rousing success, and Aoi and Kaoru manage to find a quiet moment at the end of the day.Comments
Ai Yori Aoshi ("Bluer Than Indigo") is a unique and highly enjoyable combination of romantic drama and harem comedy. Kaoru bucks the harem comedy trend of nerdy male leads by being handsome, intelligent, and well-adjusted. It's easy to see why the women fall for him. The comedy makes the quiet, dramatic moments between Aoi and Kaoru all the more welcome. Those familiar with the anime may be a bit surprised by the art in the manga. The characters, especially Kaoru, are not nearly so smoothly detailed. There is a slight air of busy-ness that works well. The ski-slope like noses of the first volume seemed to have been toned down a bit. There is plenty of nudity in this volume, featuring Tina, Taeko and Aoi at the hot springs and getting dressed in kimonos, and some self-inspection with Miyabi. The cover is a beautiful image of Aoi seen from behind as she's beginning to loosen her trademark blue kimono. All honorifics are retained, which is welcome in a title that is as uniquely Japanese at AyA. While sound effects aren't translated, it appears some effort was made to at least make sure all side comments and dialogue are translated. Many signs are translated in the gutters between panels.
This title features some great extras. There is a summary at the front of the book, and a two page glossary. One page discusses tatami mats, yukatas and takoyaki, and the other page is entirely devoted to the art of the tea ceremony. A couple more Ai-Ao Theater pages are included, which are the gag strips Fumizuki created for the original release in Japan. Color images from the inside flaps of the dustcovers to the Japanese tankoubans are reproduced inside the front and back covers. This is one of Tokyopop's better releases. For someone who wants some actual romance to go with their beautiful girls, Ai Yori Aoshi is the title for them.