By Kou Fumizuki
Published in the US by TokyoPop
Slugline: True Blue Boredom
Kaoru has left his abusive family behind to go to college, but a childhood friend appears one day. Aoi remembers when they were betrothed to each other, and has spent her life getting ready for that, and just because Kaoru is no longer the heir to his family fortune is no reason to change plans now. Kaoru does like Aoi, and they manage to come to arrangement that allows them to get to know each other better at the cost of keeping their relationship a secret. Of course, that means that Kaoru's friends at the college have to get involved and complicate things.
Thank goodness this was a collected edition, because the first volume went by in a blink. I have learned to appreciate, even sometimes treasure the fact that a manga story can take its time to unfold, but in this case it means that in the 2nd and 3rd volumes that are still hitting all of the shojo cliche story/settings, such as the amusement park, hot springs and school festival chapters. The characters are really earnest and all, but all I could think while reading it was boring, boring, boring. Seen it all before, over and over. There is all of this storytelling potential about Kaoru and Aoi's families, and it is not even touched upon in the first three volumes of the series. Maybe creators need to fill the first few volumes of series with these cliche scenes in order to get in the time to explore the characters and get a handle on them before heading into more individualized stories, but that just means that we end up reviewing a lot of similar first volumes of shojo titles. Is there anything bad here? No, not really, but it is very run of the mill. If you have read more than a dozen shojo titles, you can skip this volume without missing much.
Ai Yori Aoshi, vols. 1-3 collected is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga