By Mayu Shinjo. Released in Japan as “Ai wo Utau Yori Ore ni Oborero!” by Shogakukan, serialized in the magazine Shoujo Comic (“Sho-Comi”). Released in North America by Viz.
Another volume of the meant to be fun but mostly incredibly frustrating Ai Ore, where you keep waiting for the heroine to embrace her inner prince and tell Akira where to stick it. But that’s not what’s going to happen here, and instead we’re going to get more and more of Mizuki getting in touch with her inner feminine emotions and learning what love really is. Which, honestly, is mostly fine. As long as Akira’s not being a horrible jerk.
No, really, it’s true. There’s a sequence of about 100 pages or so midway through this volume where Mayu Shinjo stops focusing on how possessive and stifling Akira wants his love to be, and how he will destroy everything about Mizuki’s life in order to make her his. Instead, we get actual fun plots featuring our heroes interacting with the other characters. Mizuki has to pretend to be a yakuza girlfriend. Akira gets sick and Mizuki has to take care of him. Mizuki goes to Akira’s culture festival, and finds him dressed as a catboy. This is really fun stuff. Mayu Shinjo has been writing manga for years, and has none of the newbie’s issues with pacing or padding. And since Akira isn’t being a brat, his relationship with Mizuki is actually enjoyable.
Then there’s the rest of the manga. As I noted in my review of Volume 1, he’d be a perfect horrible shoujo male lead if he weren’t so immature about it. We see here that he comes from a very overprotective family, and was no doubt spoiled rotten. This helps to explain a lot of his behaviors, but doesn’t necessarily make them any better to watch. To be fair, he is a little better here, especially when he finds he has competition in the form of Mizuki’s old childhood friend Shinnosuke, who has returned from university and is (needless to say) smoking hot. And also manly, something which sets Akira’s teeth on edge.
As for those wondering how seriously Shinjo is taking this manga, I would like to point to the helicopter, the boxing match, the shopping trip, the entirety of the yakuza omiai and culture festivals… there’s a lot in here that’s just a hoot, provided you remember to turn off your brain a bit. The humor here is a bit more subtle than Butterflies, Flowers, so it’s not as easy for me to throw off the casual sexism the way it is for that title. But I have to admit it, even if I do want to strangle Akira half the time, Ai Ore! remains a complete page-turner. It’s pretty much exactly what you want from a potboiler – the inability to put it down. Let’s hope the next volume continues that trend, and I’ll try to stop complaining about things that I would rather the author be writing about.