Ai Ore! 2

July 16, 2011

Mayu Shinjo – Viz – 2011 – 10 volumes

Remember, these volumes are omnibuses, so you’re getting 300 pages per volume. I’m not quite sure how to footnote that, though. This is probably the equivalent of the second half of the second Japanese volume, plus the third volume. So keep that in mind.

Now that I’ve read Sensual Phrase in its entirety, it’s really hard for me to get into this one knowing just how utterly insane, but still romantic and annoyingly addictive Sensual Phrase was. I could talk about the differences, but if I start talking about Sensual Phrase again, I’ll just gush and repeat the crazy that spills from every page of that series. I think the biggest difference is that Ai Ore is grounded in reality, or at least as grounded in reality as I suspect any Mayu Shinjo series is.

It’s all still about Mizuki and Akira. Mizuki is shy about her feelings for Akira, where Akira really just wants to do it. It’s a problem for both of them. Sometimes, Akira thinks that Mizuki is inviting him over to his house to have sex, when actually she didn’t mean that at all, she just thought he shouldn’t stand in the rain. Shame on you, Mizuki! How dare you lead Akira on like that!

One of the reasons that I don’t enjoy this as much as Sensual Phrase is that Akira is a really insensitive jerk. He often chastises Mizuki for not loving him enough to have sex, and is rather… blunt about his feelings and just how Mizuki should feel for him. There was even a near-rape in the scene above, when Akira just felt he really didn’t need to stop when Mizuki asked because, well, she had invited him over to her house when nobody else was home.

He’s also just not as cool as Sakuya. Sakuya’s silver tongue covered his jerk-y nature (and by silver tongue, I mean hilariously bad lines), plus Aine was cool with everything Sakuya did, so he couldn’t force himself on her the way Akira forces himself on Mizuki, who isn’t sure about their relationship. And Sakuya was somewhat heroic about saving Aine from the bad stuff, where Akira seems to enjoy picking fights with both Mizuki and those around Mizuki.

There was a minute when I thought Ai Ore was going to turn into a genuinely interesting gender identity manga. The premise is, of course, that Mizuki is tall and masculine, where Akira is short and feminine. Mizuki is self-conscious on dates, because she looks like the man in the relationship and feels like everyone stares to figure out their genders. A romantic rival for Akira shows up and points out that what Mizuki needs to feel at ease is a guy that makes her look like a girl. As completely sexist as this is, being out in public with him puts Mizuki’s mind at ease, since she really does look girly next to this boxer, and she feels like nobody has to stare at her to figure her out. As much as she likes Akira, maybe she’s had enough of feeling self-conscious about their relationship. Also, when Akira tries to cure this feeling by having Mizuki wear feminine clothing, apparently she is so beautiful that it makes the staring worse, Akira gets insanely jealous, and that’s the end of that.

But then Akira challenges him to a boxing match, kicks him in the balls, and Mizuki decides that public opinion shouldn’t matter too much. End of serious moment.

The fact that Akira is a jerk is quite troubling. That it doesn’t sustain itself on whatever nightmare fuel spawned Sensual Phrase is also disappointing. But it has just enough crazy that I’ll probably keep reading just to see if Akira ever gets his comeuppance. That would be completely satisfying.

Also? The characters occasionally Sakuya, as if he is a celebrity in the world they exist in, and that he is the epitome of cool. This would be way more hilarious in some of Shinjo’s early work, because I think a lot of her male protagonists were basically Sakuya over and over again. As it stands, having a character hold up a photo of Sakuya and talk about how they want to be more like him is pretty awesome. I secretly hope that the love interest here gets his wish.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

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