Ai Ore Volumes 4 and 5

Ai Ore
has an interesting publication history, because what is being published here as a continuous series was actually two series in Japan split between two different magazines. I think the US volume 4 is the first volume of the second series, just based on the recap incorporated in the beginning of the book and the dramatic shift in tone. These volumes really felt different than the previous volume of Ai Ore that I sampled, so much so that I’d recommend that anyone who was turned off by the angsty romance and gender politics in the first volume give the series a try again as it evolves into a pretty amusing school comedy. As the volume opens boyish girl Mizuki and girlish boy Akira are finally dating but their romance is about to be derailed by school politics. Mizuki’s St. Nobara Girls Academy is an elite school, but Akira’s Dankaisan Boys School is populated solely by juvenile delinquents. St. Nobara’s meddling student council president Ageha (is there any other kind in manga?) decrees that Mizuki must not sully the reputation of their school, so naturally Mizuki is sentenced to detention which involves being locked in a cell complete with iron bars. Akira decides that he’s going to raise the reputation of his school, so he goes along with the plans of his own meddling student council president to open a dorm, redesign the school uniforms, and raise test scores. There were a bunch of amusing little touches in this manga. I enjoyed seeing Akira’s deranged classmates debate the “cosplay ratio” of their new uniforms, and Ageha’s fainting act when she comes into contact with the Dankaisan students is melodrama in overdrive. Overall, I enjoyed this volume much more than the first over-sized volume of Ai Ore since there was less focus on romance and more focus on wacky school hijinks.

Volume 5 starts off with the introduction of a new character – Akira’s former tutor in manliness Sho Kasuga, who reminds Akira of a shameful moment of his past. Kasuga also ends up being St. Nobara Academy’s first male teacher. He manages to secure the position by mentioning that he’s gay as a cover story, but he is actually a shameless womanizer. Akira finds an unexpected ally in his new roommate, a tough yakuza guy named Bambi. Akira and Mizuki manage to have some rough times in their relationship, mostly due to Mizuki’s idiotic habit of jumping to conclusions and Akiria’s guilt-ridden shiftiness. This volume was a little less funny than volume 4, but I have to give it props if only because the St. Nobara school director used the phrase “Sex Terrorist” to describe Kasuga. As Akira and Mizuki begin to take their relationship to the next level, they face the next step in most manga school romances – planning their summer vacation. Even though Ai Ore does manage to hit upon most shoujo cliches, the lighter tone in these tow volumes made it much more enjoyable. It isn’t as frenetically funny as Oresama Teacher, but I still put these volumes down amused and entertained.
If you tried the first volume of the series and didn’t enjoy it, it is worth skipping ahead to see if these later volumes are more to your liking.

Review copies provided by the publisher.

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