Last updated August 02, 2005.

November 21, 2004:

Ai Yori Aoshi manga volume five cover
Ai Yori Aoshi manga volume five cover

I find it somewhat amusing that volume five of the Ai Yori Aoshi manga sports a warning label printed right on the cover.

Instead of having a warning label for explicit content, it should have a warning label that says "WARNING: Ai Yori Aoshi kinda sucks, but you might end up liking it anyway.

Oh, incidentally, I think the manga is still ongoing. Volume 14 came out not too long ago. I think this makes it more likely that there may be a third season of the anime.

January 12, 2005:

Uzume, Taeko, Aoi, and Mayu figures
Uzume, Taeko, Aoi, and Mayu figures

The special edition version of the second Ai Yori Aoshi ~ Enishi ~ DVD was on sale for much less than the regular DVD-only version. So now I not only have the Aoi figure that came with the first DVD and box, but I also have crude little Uzume, Taeko, and Mayu figures as well.

Although a lot of anime fans really enjoy character figurines, I don't care for them at all, and yet I now have an incomplete Ai Yori Aoshi onsen menagerie that is just going to sit around collecting dust next to the Lacus figurine that came stuffed in the HARO which I actually wanted.

Lacus figurine
Lacus figurine

See, a hollow pink plastic ball that does nothing = cool. Tiny anime girl dolls = uninteresting.

Pinku HARO

As far as freebies and extras go, I rather wish DVD companies would stick with t-shirts and sturdy boxes or soundtracks. The iron-on patch that came with the first Dokkoida!? DVD was pretty sweet, too.

August 01, 2005: Ai Yori Aoshi manga

As I've mentioned in the past, there are a number of differences in the Ai Yori Aoshi manga compared with its anime adaptation. For example, a fairly significant plot point in the Enishi anime involves Tina's sudden return to the United States. However, this is less of a dramabomb than it was initially made out to be, as she was only gone for a few episodes, and seemingly returned almost immediately. In the corresponding story found in volume nine of the manga, the revelation is that she is planning to return to America permanently after graduation from college. She admits to herself that she is in love with Kaoru, and despairs that she will be leaving him after one short year.

Also, pretty much anything that didn't seem to make sense in the anime is due to repositioning of events from the manga timeline. Doing so may make for better individual episodes, but continuity as a whole suffers.

I am convinced that through volume nine of the manga, Aoi and Kaoru still have not consummated their relationship. Their anime counterparts have definitely done the deed, albeit apparently only twice (another one of those things in the anime that doesn't make sense as a result of deviating from the manga).

I also want to commend Tokyopop for their work on the Ai Yori Aoshi manga. Tokyopop generally seems to have a somewhat mediocre reputation for quality, being the manga equivalent of ADV: lots of titles, and decent enough quality, but not the creme of the crop. Indeeed, Tokyopop's Love Hina manga was quite poor in many respects, most notably for its use of "updated" and westernized pop culture references, and some very poor image editing. Tokyopop's work in in removing Japanese text and overlaying English text in most of their Love Hina volumes was very lazy, and did not even measure up to the standards regularly found in average fan scanation editing. Tokyopop's Ai Yori Aoshi manga, however, is very well done, and I have zero complaints about their work.

October 12, 2006: Ai Yori Aoshi manga volume 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.