Sunday, October 7, 2012

Manga Review: Ai Ore! Love Me, Volume 1, by Mayu Shinjo

Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat)
Volumes: (8 volumes, maybe? I'm not sure? There are two different series listed, and I think they're both getting released under the same title?)
Buy it here: Amazon.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Reads R to L (Japanese Style) T+ audience. Mizuki is the female “prince” of her all-girls school and the lead guitarist in an all-girl rock band. Akira is the male “princess” of his all-boys school and wants to join her band. Love may be on his mind, but romance is difficult when everyone keeps mistaking Mizuki for a boy and Akira for a girl!

When the lead singer of Blaue Rosen announces she is moving overseas, Akira does all he can to convince Mizuki and her bandmates to let him join. But will a resistant Mizuki allow him into her band, much less her heart?


I haven’t read anything else by Shinjo that I remember all that clearly; I think I read the first volume of Sensual Phrase several years ago, and I think I’ve glimpsed through another of her series. I never really had enough interest to invest in any of her manga, though. Mostly, they seemed dramatic and clich├ęd, but not something that I really wouldn't like, but I never got around to actually reading any of it. With VIZ releasing this recently, I decided to give it a shot, although I didn’t have very high hopes for it.
Saying that, I was actually a bit surprised with how much I enjoyed this volume. The premise didn’t really get me too interested, what with gender-bender not being one of my favorite topics, and I hadn’t heard too many great things about it.
First of all, I’m going to talk about the whole gender-bender thing. I haven’t read a lot of series with this topic, save for Hana-Kimi (a series that I really like), and this one sounded just alright. And, mostly, it is just alright. It’s real point seems to be to cause all the students at their schools, an all-boys’ and an all-girls’ repectively, to fawn over them. There are fan clubs at both schools for the main characters, and it doesn’t seem to matter to them that they’re falling for someone of the same sex, which seems like a very large number of people at one place to be gay? But maybe they’re not really, just for those specific people? Whatever.
My biggest problem with this, was how the girls in the band looked. Akira, the boy that looks girly, actually looks like a small boy with feminine features, which didn’t bother me. The five girls that look like boys’, though, completely look like boys except for, maybe, one scene in the whole volume. The bath scene is the only time they really look like girls. The rest of the time, it just looked like Shinjo had drawn boys and claimed they were girls, which bothered me. Still bothers me.
Aside from that, though, I actually enjoyed this volume. It was dramatic, maybe a little over the top, but I didn’t mind that. Some people probably do, but I like the smutty, dramatic manga. Which is what this is. There isn’t really any outright nudity, but there are several intense scenes. Mizuki, the main girl character, gets embarrassed much too easily and is pretty weak, but I can kind of accept that. Later that might change, though, if she doesn't get even a little more tough. Akira is a bit possessive and forceful, but I don’t mind too much at this point.
There was one scene, and maybe another one at the end of volume, that included some forcing into sex, maybe and I’m pretty sure what would be called rape, that I didn’t like. I didn’t like who was involved or how they could be so okay with doing it, like it was a perfectly okay thing, and I’m hoping something comes of that in the next volume. Because it doesn't matter what your reasoning is: rape is not okay.
So while I did like this volume, it had its faults, and I hope the next one, which I am kind of looking forward to, is better.

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