Name: Ai Yori Aoshi
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Serialized In: Young Animal
Released: 1998 – 2005
Story & Art: Kou Fumizuki
Published By (Japan): Hakusensha
Published By (US): TokyoPop
Story: 9/10 (x 3 = 27 pts)
Art: 9/10 (x 3 = 27 pts)
Gut Score: 8/10 (x 4 = 32 pts)
Total: 86/100 (86%)
Ai Yori Aoshi is about Aoi Sakuraba, the daughter of the head of a rich conglomerate, and her secret fiance-to-be Karou Hanabishi. When the two were little, their marriage had been arranged as Karou was himself the heir to another major conglomerate. However, Karou was only adopted, and after witnessing the treatment of his mother, especially after she died, Karou ran away from the Hanabishi clan to live on his own.
As a result, the marriage was canceled. Aoi remained determined to marry Karou despite this and goes to Tokyo to see him. After not realizing who each other were at first, they each realize that they are in fact the couple who were put together when they were young, and Aoi decides to start living with Karou. However, Aoi’s caretaker, Miyabi, shows up to take Aoi back home. Aoi refuses and Miyabi, reluctantly at first, arranges things so that Karou and Aoi can live together at one of the family’s estates.
Soon, Karou runs into his old college friend Tina, who went away for a year or so to travel the world. Soon another girl, Taeko, joins the photography club that Karou is part of, and both Taeko and Tina end up living along with Aoi and Karou due to certain circumstances.
Ai Yori Aoshi is, centrally, about the growing love that Aoi and Karou have for each other, but is also largely a comedy as the other girls who live with or otherwise know Karou often end up getting in his way or even want Karou for himself. There is also some added drama as well as Aoi’s parents are against her staying with Karou while the Hanibishi clan attempts to come up with a way to still have Aoi marry into their family.
At 17 volumes, Ai Yori Aoshi is a pretty long read, but the story still seems to keep itself relatively fresh through, exploring all of the characters feelings and motivations along the way. I should also note that this manga is quite ecchi, and is rated for Older Teens (except the final volume which is rated 17+).
If you’re looking for a good romance/comedy with some dramatic plot arcs thrown in, then you may enjoy this series.
First Read: December 2005 – October 2007
Do I Own: Yes
Do I Recommend: Yes