Video Girl Ai (Action Edition) Vol. #04 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 188
  • ISBN: 1-59116-104-5
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Video Girl Ai (Action Edition) Vol. #04

By Eduardo M. Chavez     July 18, 2005
Release Date: October 01, 2004

Video Girl Ai (Action Edition) Vol.#04
© Viz Media

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

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

Ai has been taken out of her creator's video world - and is now a bootleg Video Girl. While Ai was gone, Yota started a romance with his cute classmate, Nobuko. But that may be the least of Ai's worries - her creator is still trying to erase her!

The Review
Love hurts, but this is ridiculous! Love could mean the demise for one of these characters. Love could mean breaking up with someone you "thought" you might be falling in love with. Love could mean going crazy!

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 a few key points. Viz does good by using the original cover art on a light background; this design loses the clutter of Viz's first try and makes the framed image of Ai in winter clothing as the dominant part of this piece. The opposite cover has the same character piece 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 (each are simply 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 really dark. This is really obvious in the second chapter where the first ten pages that were not originally in B/W are not very clear, completely compromising the art. There were also a few alignment issues here and there, as the images in my copy were cut off, due to the alignment leaning a bit to the left. This volume features three pages of additional art from Katsura, a mangaka bio and ads for Cheeky Angel 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. In general, they have unique designs with interesting lines that refine the bodylines of his characters. This volume is appears to be free of edits so for those who care there is some full nudity in Katsura's sensual designs.

While his layouts can be 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)
True love when shared by two people creates a type of connection that cannot be torn. When two people share a connection like that, the rest of the world feels insignificant. To those involved, their lives begin and end with each other and little else matters. They could have a life changing opportunity in front of them, but if they were to choose between their love and something like that, the only option would be love.

Moteuchi has worked so hard to separate himself from the link he had cherished with Ai. His new relationship was moving so fast really did not have much time to develop properly. To Moteuchi that was something he felt could be worked on with time. He did not understand how deep his feelings for Ai are. So when his new relationship began to move into unknown waters and fate had Ai come back to his life pulling at his heartstrings, he had no control over anything in his life. And with that being the case, it was apparent that it is not likely that his current relationship would ever work out.

For Ai, this is very difficult to understand. She is not aware of it right now, but her life has just recently begun. Moreover, most of her life has been spent with Moteuchi. They were like family, but their relationship turned into something else along the way. She might not remember any of this, but her heart is directly connected to Moteuchi and it is slowly starting to drive her crazy. Sometimes love is like that. It does not have to make sense, but in the end, she should not fight it. And when she gives in to it, everything she thought she knew began to look unfamiliar.

Good lord the drama is thick enough to make a fork stand in it! Seriously, the concept of a red thread connection between lovers is obvious here. Ai and Yota were destined to be together and nothing, not brainwashing, not new lovers nothing would end up standing between that. Truly if there could be anything it would be their own fears. They will create the walls that will separate them, if they wish to be apart. If not their hearts will bring them together.

It is a powerful message Katsura is attempting to convey. On the surface it is a little cheesy, but idealistically this is what everyone wishes love should be. Love should be eternal, if not it would be so painful (which is how it often is). Yet, Katsura seems to know both sides of that coin. He makes sure that Ai and Yota struggle with their love, and at the same time Nobuko and Naoto are trying to do the impossible to get the hearts of those they love. One person’s high is another’s low and what was a thread became a triangle, a square and so on.

This is Katsura at his best. By playing with the inexperience of his cast, Katsura creates arousing situations where these kids tease each other, attempt to seduce each other and generally titillate. Other mangaka often try to shock with these scenes, however Katsura shows so much honesty and sincerity in the emotions of his cast I was moved. With this volume showing off Katsura’s art to its fullest (yes there is full nudity!!) this is a must buy for Katsura readers and romance readers alike.


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