Princess Ai Vol. #03 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C-

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  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 224
  • ISBN: 1-59182-671-3
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Princess Ai Vol. #03

By Jarred Pine     March 19, 2006
Release Date: February 07, 2006

Princess Ai Vol.#03

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Misaho Kujiradou, Courtney Love, & DJ Milky
Translated by:Kimiko Fujikawa and Yuki N. Johnson
Adapted by:

What They Say
The culmination of Ai's journey of self-discovery is at hand, and salvation is on the horizon. As hunters from her homeland close in on her, Ai's record company unleashes its plan to turn their hot new diva into a falling star. Even with Kent by her side, can Ai avoid her enemies and still find a way to bring peace to her troubled homeland? The adventure and romance comes to a shocking conclusion in Princess Ai: Evolution, the final volume in the bestselling manga series!

The Review
The final volume of Princess Ai takes what could have been an interesting parallel to the music industry and turns it into bad fan fiction that idolizes and constantly praises its main character with a complete lack of anything interesting.

The cover features a colored version of the illustration found on page 108, with the face changed to a smiling Ai instead of one looking down at the ground. The colors are bright and vibrant, but I wonder if fans would have like an original piece for the cover. There are some nice textures on the cover with the logo featuring raised lettering that all look quite sharp on the matte finish.

Inside there are four color pages along with a foldout, full-color paper doll cutout. The print reproduction is pretty sharp with no real noticeable flaws. There are a whole slew of extras, including an afterword from DJ Milky and Mishao Kujiradou, lyrics, and cosplay photos.

Character designs are done by Ai Yazawa (Paradise Kiss, NANA) and illustrated by Misaho Kujiradou. Ai is without a doubt the best looking character in the book, with her lavish gothic outfits, swirling hair, and wide eyes with long lashes. The gothic costumes of Ai and the other Ai-Land inhabitants are quite creative and fantastic. Most of the male characters have bishounen designs, whispy hair and thin, lanky frames with feminine facial features.

The backgrounds are kept quite simple and are mostly non-existent, leaving a lot of white space in its place. The characters in the background also suffer quite a bit from the blank face syndrome. The line work is really clean and thin. There is not a lot of varying tones, keeping to a couple styles, so it sort of lacks that depth.

SFX are about 30% translated with subs, with the others remaining as is. Now, being a co-production I would have thought that at least all the SFX could have been translated, but it seems that TOKYOPOP’s position on not translating them partly holds true here. The script reads just fine here with no spelling or grammatical errors.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
It has been awhile since the last volume of Princess Ai, seven months to be exact, long enough that I was unable to locate the previous volume which is evidently lost at sea in a box or swallowed by my other manga on the shelf. So, after reading my last review and the comprehensive five-page story summary preceding this finale, I was able to refresh my memory on the story of Ai and her trials and tribulations with Ai-Land and the music industry. Going into this last volume of the trilogy I feel like I’ve lost a bit of the momentum, and it seems that the story has lost some as well. How did a story that I believed to be decent and gave the benefit of the doubt to, end up so incredibly boring, contrived, and painful in the end.

In fact, I wouldn’t just say that the story has lost momentum so much as it feels like it’s in a rush for the big final conclusion to make Ai the supreme being, skipping all the proper character development as a result. Instead of letting Ai and the people around her interact with each other naturally, events are completely contrived and forced upon the reader to invoke emotions that just don’t exist. There are quite a few cringing exchanges of dialogue, with everyone taking a little bit of time to tell Ai, and the reader, just how wonderful she is. Even the evil Furies of Ai-Land seem to change their opinion of Ai at the flip of a coin. First we try to kill her, and then we fall in love with her all-wonderful presence. Gah!! The events all culminate at a rock show for the ages as Ai goes on stage, singing with furor and passion, all while battling Furies only to have it come to a disappointing screeching halt when she morphs into a benevolent angel whose bright light makes everything all warm and fuzzy. Ai then packs up her bus and gets the hell out of Dodge, leaving everyone to clean up the mess, but they are too busy praising Ai. And there was much rejoicing.

After cutting through the Ai propaganda, there are also a couple events that really did not sit well with me at all. First, there are at least two deaths of people close to Ai that are so completely orchestrated for the betterment of her character. One is about as surprising as ketchup on fries, clearly used as a tool for Ai to go into super Red Angel mode. The other death was quite a cheap tactic, but delivers one hell of an unintentionally hilarious line, “I told you earlier never to touch my heart-shaped box!” Oy vey! The characters’ emotions are also quite fake or just completely dead. If I was brought back from the dead after protecting my girl, only to watch her fly off with some magical fairies with her leaving me in the dust, I think I’d have more to say than, “You’ll always be in my heart”. There is no conflict of emotions or feelings; everyone is just so damn drunk of Ai’s bright, shining light of goodness to really care.

After reading the previous volume of Princess Ai, I remember giving it the benefit of the doubt as an interesting way to illustrate parallels with Courtney Love’s tenuous musical career. With this concluding volume of the Ai trilogy, I now realize that I set myself up for the fall. Princess Ai ends up being the biggest Mary Sue I have ever witnessed in this medium, with seemingly all the characters taking panel time to tell the reader how much they love Ai and how her shining presence is so wonderful and glorious. With Courtney Love’s name attached to this, I just can’t help but feel like this was one big scheme to liberate Love from the controversy and issues she created during her career. The story ends up feeling like fan fiction paying an idolized tribute to Love. No thanks, I’ll wait for the E! True Hollywood Story version instead.


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