Video Girl Ai (Action Edition) Vol. #05 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.95
  • Pages: 188
  • ISBN: 1-59116-146-0
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Video Girl Ai (Action Edition) Vol. #05

By Eduardo M. Chavez     September 15, 2005
Release Date: December 01, 2004

Video Girl Ai (Action Edition) Vol.#05
© 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.

Ai has been bootlegged to a new tape, and is living with the kindly clerk of the Gokuraku Video Shop under the impression that she's a normal girl. But Ai's creator thinks she's defective and is determined to erase her. To make matters worse, Ai's creator has spun off a new video, Video Girl Mai, and she wants Ai off the market!

The Review
Presented in a tall B6, in right-to-left format, the latest reprinting of this long running title leans towards the original look, but misses a few key points. Viz does well 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 Mai in a wide collar shirt 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 pretty dark. This is really obvious in the second chapter where may of the pages are set in the dark using a lot of screen tone. The tone blends together compromising the line work. This volume features four pages of additional art from Katsura, a mangaka bio and an ad for 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 has 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)
What comes naturally to humans is a defect to video girls. Love is an emotion that many people take for granted, but it makes Ai stand out as a video girl for they are created not to feel or understand love.
What comes No one in the shonen world can do romance like Katsura. This volume his cast is love sick from start to finish. Prior to this each one felt they understood what love meant to them. They each felt confident about their feelings and what they want from the love they share. They thought the rolls were settled. They all thought love became easy, after so much heartache and stress.

Katsura proves them all wrong! Love is never simple. Because love must be shared it is always changing. It is constantly being deconstructed by characters like Yota and Nobuko who are still learning about their feelings. These two are constantly doubting their feelings; breaking feelings down, second guessing each other and themselves. These two have also begun to oppress their love. Like Moemi and Takeshi they try to hold their feelings back. They create walls in their hearts to protect themselves (and maybe those they love). The wall makes their feelings seem foreign, confused and unanswered. Once the feeling that love might not be reciprocated sets in, the spiral begins to go out of control. When that happens only communication can right the ship, but the wall grows thicker and taller. Then others begin to see their feelings evolve. Ai's love is growing out of control. From friendship to passion in a matter of days; hard to contain a feeling like love when it burns like Ai's.

Love comes naturally to humans is a defect to video girls. Love is an emotion that many people take for granted, but it makes Ai stand out as a video girl for they are created not to feel or understand love. Her love is what has brought her back to where she began, but it is also tearing up the person she cares for the most.

Eventually everyone goes through the ups and downs brought on by whatever love is. These teens just happen to all be going through the downs now. Hopefully, there will be good times on the horizon, because Yota cannot believe it can get any worse than it is now.

Katsura really tricked me with the previous volume. He put me into a lull where I thought things were going to be all right for a while for these guys. I thought they had learned something. They seemed to be in a comfort zone despite the fact that Yota and Nobuko seemed to be having some issues now that Ai was back in Yota’s life. I thought that these two would be able to temporarily settle there differences. They seemed so be past that.

Man was I wrong.

Katsura makes sure readers understand nothing is easy when it comes to loving someone. And how he does it this time is by focusing on communication. Every cast member has to struggle with communication in this volume. You know what they are all feeling. They can share it with their friends. Katsura shares those feelings with his readers. However, Yota cannot tell Nobuko that he wants to see her. Nobuko cannot ask Yota to speak up. The same goes for Takeshi, Moemi and Ai. This might seem like a cheap way to stretch this series out a bit, but Katsura is really working on something that is critical to relationships. By focusing on something so simple and the difficulty people have with it, he has made this seem so much more real.

People have trouble talking all the time. Heck, I am having trouble expressing myself right now, but you wouldn’t know that unless I told you. So how is a relationship supposed to survive if those involved don’t talk? How are they supposed to share something if no one is giving anything? Katsura’s point is right out there, and he quickly moves to prove what can happen if people do not take the time to share their feelings. Some people move on to those who are there to listen - Yota has Ai and Moemi is giving him more time and Nobuko might have someone else as well. Love in name alone will not cut it.

Video Girl AI proves once again that shonen manga can be romantic. Hell, it proves that shonen manga could be good. Each volume shows readers that they should appreciate the relationships they have. They can find AI anywhere – friendship, family or romance. But when you have it, you have to take care of it.



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