Ai Yori Aoshi

Ai Yori Aoshi falls into the category of what is called ecchi, or “perverted japanese softcore adult comic.” Ok, that may be a bit harsh, but the main point of the book is to appeal to the male mind through female characters that are more a fetish stereotypes than individuals. We’ll see them in the shower, accidently showing their panties, tripping into suggestive situations, etc. This isn’t a very sophisticated book.

This is also what us manga and anime types call a “harem comedy” the premise being that there’s a group of girls living with Joe Everybody, who could be you! Under the right circumstances I can find these titles to be quite fun, but Ai Yori Aoshi isn’t the right circumstances.

The premise is: Aoi Sakuraba has been her whole life prepared to marry Kaoru Hanabishi, a boy from another wealthy family. When Kaoru leaves his family, the engagement is called off, but Aoi runs away to find Kaoru and see if she really loves him. They’ll eventually settle down in a house with a bunch of other female students, and sexual tension will ensue.

This manga taps into a traditional fantasy of a japanese wife that I find somewhat disturbing. Aoi dreses old fashionedly, has never been to school (she’s tutored), and is a sheltered little flower who’s purpose in life is to live for her man.

The book has ridiculous dialogue such as:

Kaoru: “Betrothed… w-we are?”

Aoi: “Yes. We met several times when we were little. Every since then,
I’ve been raised to become your wife, to give my all to serve you,
Kaoru-sama. Didn’t you know that, Kaoru- sama?

and

Aoi: When we were small, I watched you during all of the short time we
spent together. I know a lot more about you, Kaoru-Sama. Like how you
like fried fish. And how blue is your favorite color, and how you like
short hair (so naturally her hair is short). I’ve worked my hardest to
become your wife, Kaoru-sama. It was my dream that we would be
together like this. To walk home holding hands with you. To have you
eat my cooking, to do anything you wished, Kaoru-sama.”

Bleh. What rubs me wrong about this story is that Aoi, unlike say, the
girls of Hanaukyo maids, is a real stereotype, not a crazy fictional
fantasy one. Aoi taps into some sort of old fashioned japanese fantasy
I find unpleasent. It’s the difference between a racist black stereotype and, say,
Jar Jar Binks.

Likewise, the popular harem comedy Love Hina, has positive female characters with independent lives of their own.

There’s some other characters in this book. A stern schoolteacher type (who digs the main character) a wanna-be student maid, a crazy american™ who likes to grab other women’s breasts. None of them seem all that interesting.

The art, however, is adorable.

Publisher: Tokyopop
Author: Kou Fumizuki
Volumes Reviewed: 2