Aizu manga Review
Despite being a person who has an extremely hard time talking to girls, Ichitaka Seto has developed a big crush on one of his school's most popular students, Yoshizuki Iori. But all is not lost, for Yoshizuki Iori also has a crush on Ichitaka Seto.
Two big questions remain: will they discover each others' feelings in time? If so, will they be able to survive the ups and downs of a relationship after high school?
Story & Playability
Some will ask me why I'm reviewing Aizu (I''s) again and I have to say it's due to perception and interpretation, which is what the characters of this series constantly struggle with. Before you read further, my previous review on this manga series I feel is a bit incomplete and based upon inexperience and lack of knowledge in some areas. As I've re-read the series and with how much time has past since the previous review, I feel I have a better viewpoint in which to critique the series to the best of my ability.
I''s is a series focused mainly on the thoughts and actions of the main character Ichitaka Seto and his struggles with his love for Yoshizuki Iori. As the manga progresses, we continuously see Seto stumble, fall and rise again in hopes to gather enough courage for a once-in-a-lifetime, perfect moment to confess to Iori.
There's no covering and defending this series for using standard tropes and plot devices as it is what we expect, a simple romance story. In some ways it's quite fitting as your main male and female characters are very simple-minded in their way of thinking when approaching any obstacle. However, this will cause (as we expect) situations for these characters to get overblown and fall into the standard trap of misunderstandings. What helps the characters (and ultimately the series), is Iori herself. Despite Seto's lack of finesse and over-the-top clumsiness in any situation he finds himself in, she remains amazingly steadfast in her belief in him minus a couple incidents. While other manga series like to expound on each problem by making the main love-interest as upset as the supporting cast is, the mangaka Katsura Masakazu prefers to maintain loyalty as a constant throughout a good portion of the series. Of course, however, even that is casted in doubt in the latter half of the series where Iori is finally fleshed out more as a co-main character.
Yoshizuki Iori doesn't really play any major role in the series until the second half due to her need to be an 'out-of-reach' goal for Seto to strive for and improve himself on. Unfortunately, this is a major disservice not just to Iori as a character, but to the story itself. Without knowing struggles that Iori tackles herself both internally and outwardly, she appears as a very one-dimensional character for half of the series. It makes constantly dealing with Seto's ineptitude hard to swallow at times. This proceeds to cause a snowball affect to the story, as the story itself doesn't try to present a variety of plots and stories to the readers. All we are left with is Seto constantly weaving in and out of plots, like spotting girls naked in the bath or once again him stumbling over himself during one of the main chances to confess. These narratives become grating overtime and causes the feeling of 'been there, done that'. The series really hits this feeling hard when the Izumi character reappears after she parts ways in friendly manner with Seto at the beach. We are led to believe from that point, with continuing progress with Iori in the previous series of chapters along with some epiphanies of his own, he has managed to jump the mental hurdles that were holding him back. Yet, Izumi continues to show back up like weeds and consistently causing Seto to fall back into the same cycles that he had supposedly surpassed.
It's hard to reprimand a series that follows traditional romance story-telling for a couple reasons. The fact that this style of story-telling has allowed for other series to succeed (looking at you Ichigo 100%) and for the fact that these types of series are in-fact character driven. Character driven stories generally don't have the 'blow-your-mind' worlds and stories, but the characters that accompany it keep you intrigued. The want to find out how a character achieves his or her goal can be inspiring, especially for readers who find themselves or had been in similar situations. Confessing love to someone is a difficult task and it takes much courage to accomplish for many, which is one of many reasons these types of stories are still told today.
Overall, the series doesn't push any envelopes and the characters themselves are pretty generic, between the clumsy main character to the sometimes thought-provoking-yet-still-a-pervert best friend, the series still manages to tell some realistic stories in the latter half of the series. It's no surprise that this is the point in the series when Iori starts being fleshed out more as a character. While some plots and a couple supporting and minor characters are forgettable, the main characters along with re-occurring support characters around them, provide some charm to act as a strong foundation to keep this series from being less than slightly above average.
The artistic-style for the manga is what caught my eye to it back in 2005. It uses a semi-realistic drawing of Yoshizuki Iori for each volume cover which also acts as an example for the character's dream to be an actress. Each cover art is drawn as though they were pictures taken during a photo shoot by Iori herself. With the way the cover pictures are however, I was unable to determine or find information stating if the covers were actually based on a real person at a real photo shoot. That is just how realistic looking it appears.
When you open up into the pages themselves, you'll find the characters are impressively drawn and the backgrounds are extremely detailed when necessary for the scene itself. Personally, I've found recently, in some mangas of the same genre, are missing some of the finer details that older mangas such as I''s has. Ranging from the character designs and clothes to the backgrounds when the characters are walking through prefectures in Tokyo. The lines are solid and the tones are used with great precision on where it should be applied.
A note about this manga, Viz Media did attempt to censor some of the art due to nudity for this series when it was being released for North America in the mid-2000s. Volumes 1-12 had some content changed to make the manga for available to all ages, however from what I've researched, Viz stopped the censorship starting with volume 13 through the final 15th volume.
The artistic details and the character designs are definitely the highlight for this series and shows off the improvements the mangaka has made since the beginning of Video Girl Ai (his first major serialization) and fortunately, while it appears he has no manga in the works since 2010, he is still drawing characters (see Tiger & Bunny anime).
Not applicable as this is a manga. The score will be set to adjust for the overall score I plan to give this manga.
Through the 15-volume series, we come to understand what a person may wind up doing for the sake of reaching a dream. For me, I almost take away from the series the inspiration to want to further my education to reach a financial plateau that I know I may not get to until I'm 80-years old in my real line of work. For Seto, his dream was to overcome his personal doubts and personality short-comings to reach the woman he has only dared to look at from afar. Through each volume of the series we are consistently bombarded with failure, then success in an almost rhythmic manner. However through this pacing we are at least rewarded with achievements even though we are only the bystanders to this journey. It provides a reason for the readers to keep going, just like Seto always needs that reassurance that what he is doing isn't for naught.
Dreams are achieved through hard-work and perseverance, which in some ways is what I had to maintain in order to finish this manga. The beginning and the end are the most enjoyable parts, but the middle falters with questionable plots and characters that continue to force Seto to take two steps back after taking three steps forward. To counter-balance this, the manga tries to keep the mood of failure from dragging the readers down by presenting us with funny, cliched, and almost absurd situations. Some of the humor works, but most of it is expected from this type of manga.
Just like with anything, there will be some who like this type of manga and some who don't. For me, the enjoyment came out of reading about the other characters and how they influence Seto's actions more so than Seto's internal mutterings (minus Izumi...sigh). Combine the charming cast with the superb artwork and you had huge potential for greatness that just falls short to the one-and-done dimension.
Reviewed by SaitoHajime101, 18wk 6d ago
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