Ai Ore! volume 2 being released by Viz, actually consists of volumes 3 and 4 of the original series run by Shogakukan in publication Shojo Comic.
The Gist: Volume 2 continues from where volume one left off. Akira hatches his plan for revenge during the school trip. Mizuki interferes and Akira relents. Then Akira takes Mizuki shopping on their first date to prove how he can make her look feminine. When the two get caught in the rain after an audition for a gig, sparks ignite with an opportunity to get intimate. Long time childhood friend of Mizuki, Shinnosuke, is introduced as a new love rival for Akira. When Akira falls ill, Mizuki goes to take care of him, but she must get past his brutish trio of brothers. Next come the two school festivals. While Mizuki feels she must come to Akira’s rescue at the boys’ school festival, Akira actually takes away Mizuki’s role at the girls’ festival, insisting on her playing the part of a princess instead of a prince due to his jealousy. The other girls are awed by her beauty as they have never seen Mizuki dressed as such.
The Characters/Romance: I note one striking detail about this volume in comparison to volume 1. I had to read this volume twice. The first time I read it cold trying to rely on whatever I retained from the first volume three months ago. That didn’t work very well. I was disgusted with Akira. I wanted to hit Mizuki for not at least considering Shinnosuke.
Volume 2 has fewer instances of Akira acting like a forceful pervert. I had forgotten enough of Akira’s personality from the first volume that I really didn’t see him as masculine at all in this volume thanks to all the false visual cues by Shinjo. So I gave it a few days, and re-read volume 1. Then I continued into volume 2. That left the right cues in my memory to at least remember that Akira is a horny guy trying to get in Mizuki’s pants.
Volume 2 continues the chauvinist objectives of Akira, trying to encourage Mizuki’s femininity with sexual advances. He really does seem like a mixed up soul. He knows he’s a guy, but enjoys acting like a girl. He wants princely Mizuki to act more girly, and then turns around and gets jealous when she gets other attention. He’s just a selfish prig. I really can’t like these characters as they are. Mizuki is too wishy-washy, not certain of who she is and being easily manipulated by a guy. Akira comes across as a misogynistic pervert just trying to get Mizuki to satisfy his hormonal urges.
I know. It sounds like I really hate this series. So why do I continue to read it?
- Gender stereotypes. It really messes with your preconceptions. I find it interesting to see how I react to the situations with my own stereotypes in place. As well as how Shinjo uses the visuals to manipulate stereotypical responses. It’s fun to analyze.
- Smutty scenes. Alas, I’ll admit, I like the scenes where Akira turns Mizuki to jelly just by triggering an erogenous zone. It’s fun to watch and laugh at.
- Humor. There are so many visual gags in this series that make it comical and even hilarious at times. They are naughty, too. How fun!
- It’s Shinjo! Her stories are ones I always enjoy reading. Her dirty little mind is so entertaining!
The Art: Volume two is spartan when it comes to backgrounds. There are a few to provide changes in setting, but most of the backgrounds consist of shoujo-themed tones or a solid black or white. This puts more emphasis on the characters of course, but I thought it was odd. Oh, and the clothes! I still think Shinjo is hit or miss in fashion design. I can see the resemblance between some of Mizuki’s outfits and the stage clothes of Lucifer in Kaikan Phrase – and believe me, they aren’t all that. And Akira in a cat suit? I know it’s suppose to make him look moe, but it really just looks silly. How are we suppose to think of him as a guy in that – and how does Mizuki get off on that either? It’s confounding.
I also realized in this volume how it is that Shinjo makes Akira look feminine in one panel and masculine in the next. (Maybe I’m slow on this?) When Akira is putting on his girly airs, Shinjo draws his eyes big and round. When he is making moves on Mizuki and acting like a guy, she draws his eyes narrow. The same thing occurs with Mizuki, it’s just not as noticeable as it is with Akira. I know that eye shape is one of the stereotypes of manga drawing when it comes to genders, so it makes sense that she would use that technique to manipulate perceptions.
The Audience: This series is rated older teen. The interactions between Akira and Mizuki are steamy, and appropriate for older teens who are familiar with intimate relationships. Make out sessions are common as well as cross dressing.
The Media: Ai Ore! is available from Viz Media in 2 volumes. Volume 3 will be released in November 2011.
Heart of Manga Rating: ♥♥♥
Ai Ore! is really for the audience who enjoys smutty romance. Add the humor and gender bending roles and it’s a prime form of entertainment for Shinjo fans.