Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Text Review 2: I"s

Manga AUTHOR: Masakazu Katsura
    other works include Video Girl Ai (1991), DNA² (1994), Zetman (2002)
Publisher: Shonen Jump Volumes: 15
Anime Episodes: 6 (Original Run), 2 (OVA) - Known also as 'I"s Pure'


Ill avoid spoilers as much as I can but heres basically a rundown of the first episode and first manga:

Itchitaka is your everyday anime loser virgin never had a girlfriend desperately seeking dude AND he has a crush on his classmate Iori who reciently posed for a semi provocative swimsuit shoot in a magazine. Being as such, she is constantly chased by sleezy good for nothings, and itchitakas afraid to let iori know his feelings for fear of her thinking the same of him. Misunderstanding to misunderstanding ensue as their relationship catapaults back and forth between good friends and her not wanting anything to do with him til one day itchitakas childhood friend Itsuki returns from America. Now itchitaka is torn between these two girls etc etc will he find true love and who does he truely love etc etc.


Since the anime is limited to 6 episodes, compressed from the entirety of the 15 volume manga series, you can imagine that some of the magic is lost in translation. Some characters have very little screen time, or even totally omitted, on order to pave way to itchitakas character development and his quest for iori. The format of the episodes, with 2 thirds of the series playing out as a sort of flashback does an adequate enough job of expressing the key events of the manga while focusing almost entirely on the relationship chemistry of either itchitaka and iori or itchitaka and itsuki.

The characters are likeable, thats for sure. Itchitakas a little annoying but he grows on you with time as he eventually learns to deal with each situation and his courage blossoms. You want him to succeed yet with each passing second you won't know if thats ever possible. While this is all well and good little is told about the characters lives that made them into the people they are now. We see a little of itchitaka as a small child and why he isn’t confident around girls but thats it. Iori is basically just played off as that unachievable trophy without giving her much depth until later on in the proceedings, but thats forgivable seeing as how we are following this through itchitakas eyes. Itsuki is by far, the most fun character of the anime run but as her screen time wavers, so does the energy.

If anything, I remember this series for being emotionally crippling. I saw the anime for this before reading the manga and some misunderstandings were just plain painful to watch. I mean come on, can you even imagine having a photoshoped naked photo of the girl you like fall in front of them just as things were getting chummy between the two of you? Not fun.
Every episode is followed by a little fan service segment of itchitaka s wild dreams of erotic pleasure, however ill leave it to your discression whether these ever lead to anything or not.
Overall though the series is short and sweet, but you cant help but feel it could of benefitted from a little more time. A 12 episode series would have lended a much better progression of story without sacrificing characters to hurry it along. It does get the key elements out though, and for that I have to give it praise since im sure most would just use the opportunity to extend it out for sequel upon sequel. Good characters, sweet story but rushed. If you like romantic comedies that won't eat up too much time to get through id give it a watch.

Now this is more what I'm talking about. I've always had a thing for romantic comedies and this is one of my all time favourites. Everything I complained about in the anime is rectified here in the manga, all plot lines explained, all characters explored and all humour restored. If your going to experience 'I"s' THIS is the way to do it. (Also you will have a much easier time grabbing the manga than the anime series).

Masakazu Katsura's art style goes from good to amazing over the course of the series, with attention to detail especially being placed into the characters. Recognisable landmarks and pop culture references, even ones recognisable to an Australian audience, come through and add chuckles here and there.
What really sets the manga apart however is Itchitaka. Hiis relationships are explored and largely varied in situation you can find some enjoyment no matter what he is going through, as it keeps you guessing in what he will do next to sort out his sometimes ridiculous problems. Once the series hits volume 10 something happens that you would expect the manga would end shortly, as so many others do, yet it keeps going for 5 more volumes, exploring an aspect of relationships that are rarely seen in romantic comedy anime/manga plotlines.
The only thing that kind of threw me off the series was the ending, with the announcement of 'the next volume is the last one' at the end of volume 14, it really felt the story left us just as another story arc was about to pick up. The ending will still leave you satisfied, but it just looks like at volume 15 a felling of 'that's enough' just came over Katsura and he ended the series. Or maybe I was just enjoying it too much...
Overall this is a great series. It has heaps of comedy, fun characters and senarios that will have you coming back for more again and again. I usually have a volume casually aside for when I'm bored as its one of those titles that are great to flip through on occasion as well. Highly recommended to those who enjoy romantic comedies or even those who just want to relive those days of that unfulfilled crush and unreachable dream. Highly Recommended; I"s

Original Publishing Date: 05/27/10

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