Video Girl Ai (Action Edition) Vol. #02 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 188
  • ISBN: 1-59116-075-8
  • Size: Tall B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Video Girl Ai (Action Edition) Vol. #02

By Eduardo M. Chavez     September 02, 2004
Release Date: July 01, 2004

Video Girl Ai (Action Edition) Vol.#02
© Viz Media

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

What They Say
High school student Yota Moteuchi is nicknamed "Dateless." When the love of his life confesses she is in love with his best friend, Yota rents a video for comfort, but the shop is magical, and the cute star of his rented tape pops out of his TV and tries to fix his ruined love life.

When Ai starts to have feelings for Yota - feelings that are forbidden for Video Girls - Ai's creator steps in to either fix her or erase her! Ai must decide whether to give Yota the cold shoulder or to acknowledge her growing love for him.

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 Moemi's framed image 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. 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. Some of the items that were flopped in volume one are now in their original orientation. Yeah!

This volume does not feature any omake, but it does have a short blurb about Katsura-sensei and ads for: Sensual Phrase, Revoluntionary 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 refine 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)
Out from the video Yota rented came Amano Ai, a video girl, brought to him by heaven to make him happy. Basically, video girls are created to make their pure-hearted viewers happy. As they have a rental period they cannot get attached to those who rent them, but in general they try to do whatever possible to please through support, comfort and company.

Yota's video girl, Ai, could do all of that. She was his best friend. She was his family. She was there supporting him and pushing him when the chips were down. She was also there loving him, slowly falling for him, and that is one thing a video girl must not do. Unfortunately for Ai and Yota, this video girl appears to be broken. As Yota found out in the first volume, the broken VCR her tape is playing in altered her body. With that defect, Ai is having a difficult time not being the girl that she wants to be for Yota. The more she is with him, the wants to be his video girl... friend.

If Ai is going to stay with Yota, she will have to change her entire attitude towards the kid. She cannot express her affection for him. She must not have him fall for her. Most importantly she has to fully support him getting another love or else face being erased and leaving him forever. Such is the life for a video girl, but accomplishing any of those requirements may not be possible after all that has happened between them. However, losing Yota would be much more painful than having him love someone else... right?

To make the transition go quickly picking up a guy might be the best way to get Yota back on track with Moemi and maybe help with the hurt of not being close with Yota. As a video girl she could just be friends with her date, as her instincts will only allow her to care for the person who rented her video so this could be pretty easy. Ai's plan might have worked out if she was more experienced with how love works, for the more she appeared to be slipping from Yota, the more he worried about her and wanted her with him. Looks like love much more complicated than it appears to be in the movies.

Experiencing love for the first time are learning rituals that often are filled with pain and confusion. Expressing and controlling that feeling is difficult and for the characters in this title love is being expressed in four unique ways. Niimai shows his love for his friend by cheering him on. His difficulties with love have forced him to push his feelings aside to focus his efforts into assisting his friends. Niimai's love brings him lots of confusion, as there is little he can do but sit back and wait. Moemi's love appears to start off as a crush. She does not know Niimai very well. Her affections appear to be superficial and she ends up suffering when Niimai does not reciprocate the emotions she feels for him. Her heart starts to waver when she gets the attention she seeks from another, but when she realizes that Niimai has opened up to her, her feelings become stronger. Yota's love is unique. He unconditionally cares for his friends and suppresses his love until it almost ends up hurting him. Unlike Niimai, Yota is not confused; instead, he accepts his suffering and contains it by trying to express it through other means. That type of love is what Ai appreciates about Yota. He truly loves his friends and he can accept the pain of not having someone to share that feeling with. His love has made her decide to risk her existence to be with him. If she could love him like she wished... well, who knows what could happen. This type of love is too big for a love triangle... so big, VGAi is a love rectangle!

There are very few good romances that have been translated into English. If one is looking for a good shonen romance there may be a small few that come to mind, but Video Girl Ai is one of them. The drama in this volume is thick, and at times the tension was so heavy that it was very difficult to put down. As these characters fumble through their romance lives, they are going through the struggles that almost everyone experiences in their relationships. Katsura, by creating a variety of relationships, has made this title even more relevant despite the sci-fi theme. Love is unique to each person, and these characters are each struggling with their own unique feelings. The sci-fi element only magnifies the tension. Ai's frustration with her emotions is easy to understand, however how her existence is tied to her emotions is critical to her character development and the plot. So she not only brings wit and energy to the drama, but she adds a high level of stress that fans like me really appreciate in a romance.

In the end fans of the series should pick this series up. 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 manga Video Girl Ai should be a good step to Shadow Lady, DNA2 and I's (I hope the final two get picked up soon). Most of the presentation problems I noticed in volume one have been fixed, so there are more reasons why this title should not be missed.



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