Alan Smithee

Ai Ore! Vol. 1: Love Me! – Review

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I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but when I was sent a copy of this manga from Viz I had no interest in reading it because it appeared to be your typical shojo manga featuring androgynous characters and love triangles and unrequitted love. Boy was I wrong.

Oh don’t get me wrong this IS shojo manga (manga directed towards the young female demographic) but I immediately fell in love with the character of Akira and the gorgeous artwork on nearly every page. I’ve been looking online this morning to pick up the next volume as soon as I can, in Japanese if I have to! Considering the series isn’t being released here in America until the 3rd of May this year…I might be waiting a bit.

The story is a little complicated, so please follow along if you can. Mizuki Sakurazaka is a first-year high school student at the all-girls academy known as Saint Nobara…here’s the catch, she actually looks like a very bishonen (lit: pretty young boy) and is a member of an all-girl band known as Blau Rosen (German for Blue Roses). All of the members of the band also have a very bishonen appearance as well, which makes them the ‘princes’ of their school.

Enter Akira Shiraishi, a student at Dankaisan High School, an all boys school next door to St. Nobara. The catch here is that Akira, is the exact opposite of Mizuki. He’s a boy that can easily pass for a bishojo (you don’t need me to define this one, just think opposite of bisshonen). He shows up at St. Nobara one day hoping to audition to replace the current lead-singer who is leaving the country. It’s here where we begin the drama and the relationship between Mizuki and Akira.

It’s hard to put my finger on why I enjoy this series so much from what I’ve read thus far, but I have to say that it’s the inner teenage girl in me who wanted the big high school romance complete with that blossoms in this series, or it could be my inner transvestite who enjoys the style and cross dressing that pops up on nearly every page. Heck, it could just be the amazing artwork that Mayu Shinjo creates on every single page that made it so I could not put the book down, even while at work!

The book is getting Viz’s T+ rating and while I wondered why when I was reading, it became apparent near the end of the first volume as some VERY adult topics come up. I don’t want to spoil it for any of you and I have to assure you that this is by no means a smutty book. The most questionable content this book shows involves same-sex attempted date rape…but not graphic at all.

STORY: 91%
ART: 93%

The romance is SMOLDERING in this book and had me grinning from ear to ear as I was reading it, remembering how silly and fun being young and in love was. The book is a solid 300 pages of reading that I suggest not only to fans of shojo, gender bending, or high school drama manga, but to fans of manga of any type.

This is one of the rare works in this medium that spans the entire audience of readers and one you should definitely pick up.

The original Japanese title for this series is 愛を歌うより俺に溺れろ (Ai o Utau Yori Ore ni Oborero – Be More Deeply in Love Than Singing) just in case you can’t wait to find out more about the series.

Pre-order now through Viz Media

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