Ali Jun 10, 2013
Ai Ore! shortened from Ai wo Utau yori Ore ni Oborero is translated into English as I’d Rather You Drown in Me, Than Sing of Love. A fitting title that describes the relationship of the main protagonists in this gender twisted, titillating manga from Mayu Shinjo.
The Gist: Akira Shiraishi, a young high school boy with feminine features, wants to join Blaue Rosen. Blaue Rosen appears to be a bishie boy band, but all the band members are androgynous looking girls. Mizuki Sakurazaka is lead guitarist, and her best friend and band vocalist Karou is leaving for the states. Akira wants to take her place. When Mizuki realizes that Akira is a boy, she vehemently denies him any participation in the band. He eventually convinces her otherwise. Akira continues to seduce Mizuki, and the two find themselves in some pretty tantalizing as well as awkward positions. Enticing Mizuki to accept her feelings while fending off the other girls, proves a difficult challenge for Akira. Yet he is determined that she belong only to him.
The Characters/Romance: Hmmm…there’s so much to say here, but I’ll try to keep it short. Although Mizuki and Akira LOOK like they are the opposite gender of what they really are, they surely don’t ACT like it. Shinjo writes clichéd roles of a domineering male and flustery female. Akira manipulates Mizuki into giving up her first kiss, as well as engaging in several make-out sessions. Although Shinjo states in her side-notes that Mizuki is intended to be a tsundere character, she appears to be a wimpy female controlled by her hormones. Akira surprised me with his ruthless side. Although he continues to lure Mizuki in with her naive desires, I didn’t expect him to go so far to get revenge for her. I don’t want to provide spoilers, so you’ll have to read, but his actions at the end of the first volume were severe, and most likely offended many readers. As for the romance, you will find plenty of smutty scenes in this series. It reminds me very much of Kaikan Phrase, where the male character was always teasing the female to get her horny to write erotic love songs. In this case, Akira is teasing Mizuki to prove her femininity to her.
The Art: The visual gender confusion makes this story interesting. The first time I saw this series, it was a very poor translation. The only thing I had to base my understanding on was the images, and I found Akira and Mizuki repulsive. Shinjo is really trying to play with people’s brains with these characters by taking the usual visual references we have for a bishie boy and cute girl, and reversing their genders. With the excellent English translation done by Viz, the story is a compelling read. I found myself easily adjusting the gender stereotypes as the story developed, and quickly changed my opinion of the series.
Artistically, I realized that with the gender switch, we don’t have ideal body proportions. Mizuki is built like a guy with a cinched waist and some breasts. Akira is a skinny little pip squeak. So in this case, it plays to Shinjo’s favor, since even if she draws the body proportions off somewhat, they won’t matter because her characters don’t have typical body proportions for their genders. This was a weakness of hers I noted in Kaikan Phrase. It will be interesting to watch Shinjo make Mizuki appear more feminine and Akira more masculine as the story progresses. I noticed some of that happening just in the first volume.
The Audience: Steamy – definitely older teen. Scenes of making out, stripping, and attempted rape make this appropriate for an older audience.
The Media: Ai Ore! volume 1 is available now from Viz media.