Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.

12 October 2006: Ai Yori Aoshi manga v.14

Amazing. Volume 14 of the Ai Yori Aoshi manga was fully awesome.

If you've been following this site for a while, you may remember that I have a curious love affair with the wretchedness that is Ai Yori Aoshi. The anime is mostly mediocre, with a few really good moments, and a lot of really lousy ones. Still, I collected box sets of both seasons, purchasing or pre-ordering the DVDs individually. The anime exemplifies much of what is wrong with harem shows and contains stupid gimmicks and antics. I watch it anyway. This is because at the heart of Ai Yori Aoshi lies a vein of romance pure to the spirits of hope, love, and passion. But yeah, it's mostly shitty.

Ai Yori Aoshi manga volume 14
Ai Yori Aoshi manga volume 14.

However, the Ai Yori Aoshi manga is actually pretty good most of the time. It suffers from some of the same problems as the anime now and then, but at least it doesn't suffer from the disjointed narratives plaguing the episodes of the anime that tried to adapt extended manga plot lines via the dubious method of "just cramming everything all together." This isn't plot advancement; it's called "not making any sense."

In the Ai Yori Aoshi manga, the plot may advance slowly, but the plot does progress naturally. In volume 14, it leaps. I don't want to reveal the spoilers explicitly, but I will say that they involve the following aspects:

  • You know how it doesn't make sense that after all this time nobody has found out about Aoi and Kaoru? Yeah, at least one person has known all along.
  • The story arc in Enishi about Tina returning to America that was resolved in a single episode? It's much more extended in the manga and actually has a reason behind it.
  • There's a bit of retconning regarding Tina's past, but it is consistent with other elements depicted thus far; it's conceivable that it was planned all along.
  • Mayu confronts her feelings. (Mayu, you'll recall, has always been completely unguarded about her devotion to Kaoru...err...Hanabishi-samaaaaaaaaaaaa. For example, see how Mayu turned the tables on Tina in volume 13 with regard to the onsen prank. She's in love with him, and makes damn sure everyone knows about it. And how.) Anyway, the volume-14 bit about Mayu confronting her feelings is a little different than you might expect.
  • Someone important to the plot dies.

Oh, and there is a bonus side-story chapter about one of Chika's friends and her newfound May-December romance. So tawdry.

Ai Yori Aoshi manga volume 13
Ai Yori Aoshi manga volume 13.

Ai Yori Aoshi volume 14 is excellent, and Tokyopop's adaptation of it again finds zero complaints from me. All y'all should buy it, but if you haven't been reading the manga, you'll want to pick up volume 13 as well.

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