Video Girl Ai (Action Edition) Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 194
  • ISBN: 1-59116-074-X
  • Size: Tall B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Video Girl Ai (Action Edition) Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     August 02, 2004
Release Date: June 01, 2004

Video Girl Ai (Action Edition) Vol.#01
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Katsura Masakazu
Translated by:Yuji Oniki
Adapted by:

What They Say
Yota Moteuchi is so unpopular, his nickname is "Dateless." That doesn't stop him from falling in love with his classmate Moemi, but is she in love with someone else?

At a mysterious video shop, the cute, Yota rents a tape starring the cute, young idol Ai Amano. When he plays the video in his broken VCR, Ai promises to cheer Yota up - then she emerges from the television and declares she will improves Yota's love life!

The Review
Presented in a tall B6, in right-to-left format, this latest reprinting of a long running title leans towards the original look, but misses out on a few key points. Viz does good by using the original cover art on light background, this design loses the clutter of the previous cover and makes Ai the dominant part of this piece. The opposite cover has the same image placed on the title sticker of a VHS tape. I have to admit I love the creativity especially since I know that Jump Comics left their reverse cover completely void of Katsura art.

Inside, Viz uses new chapter headers (all with static backgrounds) and they modify Katsura's volume header to match. They also leave out a message from Katsura and the drawing collection that was featured in the Jump Comics version. The printing is also pretty dark. It really shows on some of the pages that were not originally in b/w. There were also a few alignment issues here and there as the images in my copy were getting cut off with alignment leaning a bit to the left. Making matters worse they have kept a few flopped panels and have even removed brand names from a few random items. Luckily they did not edit the frontal nudity (areola), so Katsura's character art is in tact. This volume does not feature any omake, but it does have a short blurb about Katsura-sensei and ads for: Sensual Phrase, Revolutionary Girl Utena and Tuxedo Gin.

Katsura's art is some of the best received in the shonen genre. Not only are his designs cute and full of personality, but they tend to show a passion for fashion that Katsura has. At times his costume designs can be a little outrageous, sometimes I wonder why his characters do not trip more, but in general they have unique designs with interesting lines that highlight the body lines of his characters.
While his layouts can be pretty simple, Katsura tends to keep his panels looking good by giving his background art a good amount of detail. His detail is quite refreshing, especially when one considers how often his contemporaries in the shonen world ignore backgrounds all together.

Having done a comparison with my original tankoubon, my impression of the translation is rather positive. There are a few situations where the dialogue was out of context, but neither time affected the story much. If there was a problem with this volume, it had to be mistakes in dialogue placement. There was at least a pair of situations where the dialogue was in the wrong text bubbles.
Viz translated all of the SFX in this series. The touch up is pretty good, but at times I really wished they did not use such large overlays.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This winter vacation has been a drag for Moteuchi Yota. Because of his part-time job he really did not get to go out much. Luckily, his hard work paid off in other ways. At home he has a brand new video deck, and even more importantly he was able to save up for his future. Well, his romantic future, actually. Some of the money he saved up went to studying up on fashion trends and popular hangouts. If he were to be tested on the ways of the dating kind, he would possibly pass the multiple-choice exam with flying colors. Winter break might have been a bore, but spring is looking up at home and abroad.
With school starting up, Yota's hopes are high. With all the research he has done, he thinks he finally has a chance at love. In his eyes, Moteuchi (also read Motenai/a have not) will be a "moteru" (a have) in the romance department, and his eyes are set on having a date with Moemi. All he has to do now is make the move, and pray that everything goes according to the book.

Nothing in the real world is that simple, so, as one would expect life has turned his back on poor Motenai... I mean, Moteuchi Yota. Heartbroken and even more alone than he was before, Yota has hit the lowest of lows. At this point he would be able to stoop to anything. After what he went through, shame is something he could not feel now. His depression eventually lead him to a video store, and once in the video store to the porn section, and once in the porn section to a video about a girl named Ai. i'll cheer you up with Amano Ai was the title of his selection. There was no doubt that something out there lead him to this tape, but will the tape do as its cover promised? Could cheering him up mean, getting him together with Moemi? Nah, I video cannot do all that! This video might be able to; actually, this video might be able to do so much more.

Most sci-fi love stories tend to be heavier on the sci-fi than the romance. What makes Video Girl Ai one of the more loved titles in recent history is that it takes a sci-fi concept, immediately tosses it aside and then moves on to creating a high school romance full of the heartache and fun that is all too familiar in one-sided love. Wonderful direction and a great cast of characters work the story to almost tear rendering sadness. Then there are moments where a good mix of slap-stick comedy and heartfelt humor can bring belly laughs and nosebleeds as spunky video girl, Ai, does practically anything to get a rise out of her master, roommate, romantic experiment and friend Yota. Add all of these factors together on top of Katsura's wonderful art and there should be no reason to avoid this title.

Unfortunately, there are a few packaging issues here and there. The lack of the art gallery and message from Katsura was a big disappointment, especially since Viz has been really good about leaving those extras in recently. The minor translation problems were a little frustrating and the printing issues really brought this release a notch down.

In the end fans of the series should pick this series up. Those who have only seen the anime will be introduced to a romance that goes beyond the three episodes animated by Tatsunoko in 1992. The love triangle, actually love rectangle, in this series is so much fun it can hurt at times. And as an introduction to Katsura's great romance titles Video Girl Ai should be a good step to Shadow Lady, DNA2 and I's (I hope the final two get picked up soon). There might be a few problems with the presentation, but this story is one that should not be missed.



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