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. #03
By Mike Dungan
May 28, 2004
Release Date: March 01, 2004
Ai yori Aoshi Vol.#03
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)
Beautiful, wealthy and sheltered Aoi Sakuraba is secretly engaged to 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.
Their relationship must be kept secret to protect the Sakuraba family. 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.
Now Tina Foster, a blonde, busty American who's been raised in Japan and speaks the perfectly perfectly and Taeko Minazuki, a massively endowed and amazingly clumsy classmate, have moved into the servants quarters with Kaoru, complicating Kaoru's relationship with Aoi.
The first two chapters revolve around Christmas. Kaoru is strangely distant, which leads Aoi to wonder if he truly loves her or not. He is, of course, working multiple part time jobs trying to buy her a Christmas present. Taeko, Aoi and Miyabi return to their respective homes for the New Year's, which leaves Kaoru and Tina alone. A storm causes a power outage, and the frightened Tina insists on sleeping with Kaoru, which is, of course, hell on earth. The next day they visit the local shrine for the first shrine visit of the new year. The time spent with Tina allows us to begin to see her as less of a roadblock and more of a real character to sympathize with.
In the next chapter, Taeko struggles to balance school and work. We learn more about her, including why she's so determined to be a maid, despite being so singularly unsuited to it.
Valentine's Day has Kaoru, Aoi, Tina and Taeko going to the amusement park, the first time Aoi has been in a very long time. The Ferris wheel gives them a few precious moments together before it has to end.
Tina brings home a ferret, which everyone falls in love with, except Miyabi, who sees it as a filthy disgusting beast. She only allows it to be kept after seeing how much Aoi loves it. A battle of wills ensues between Miyani and the ferret, and we discover that even Miyabi can have a heart.
A sakura-blossom viewing party gives Aoi a chance to wear a kimono that was her grandmother's and is very special to her.
The final two chapters have Aoi and Kaoru unintentionally visiting the apartment they first shared many months ago. Kaoru finally opens up to Aoi, something he hasn't allowed himself until now. The painful memories of living in the the Hanabishi family, and the joy of having Aoi enter his life finally comes pouring out of him. He is finally able to tell Aoi what she has longed to hear. Unfortunately for them, Miyabi is back at the Sakuraba estate getting new orders from Aoi's father, orders that don't bode well for our young couple.Comments
Ai Yori Aoshi ("Bluer Than Indigo") contines to be a unique and highly enjoyable combination of romantic drama and harem comedy. Comedy and drama combine effortlessly. The romance is believable. It's easy to see why the women all fall for the handsome, intelligent and sincere Kaoru. Even Miyabi is beginning to appreciate what it is about him that Aoi loves.
The art is attractive, with character designs that continue to improve. With most of the action taking place over the winter, the fanservice quotient is lower than in previous volumes. Only Tina gets a chance to display her considerable charms. Backgrounds are nicely detailed, and panels are layed out in a straightforward, uncomplicated way.
The cover is Aoi in a blue print kimono, holding a fan. The back cover is Miyabi playing with the ferret. As on previous volumes, the images from the inside flaps of the dust covers of the Japanese tankoubans are reproduced in the inside covers in full color. A summary is at the front of the book, and a two-page glossary that talks about Christmas, New Years and Valentine's Day in Japan, as well as the tradition of sakura blossom viewing is in the back. This continues to be one of the best handled titles in Tokyopop's catalog, though there were a couple of mistakes which will likely be corrected in the second printing. Chapter 25 is listed as Chapter 24. Chapter 27, "Kazashigusa", is translated as Cherry Blossoms in the table of contents and at the end of the chapter, but Hollyhock at the beginning of the chapter.
For someone who enjoys some fanservice with their romance, then Ai Yori Aoshi is just the title for them.