This week I’m starting up yet another manga (yeah, I should probably get through one of the other ones I’ve done first). Video Girl Ai, a manga from the late-1980s (and the ’80s-ness kinda shows).
Title: Video Girl Ai, Volume 1
Story & Art: Masakazu Katsura
English Adaptation: Yuji Oniki
Touch-Up and Lettering: Dan Nakrosis
Available from Amazon.com
Yota Moteuchi is something of a sad sack. He’s in love with his classmate Moemi, who is in turn in love with Yota’s best friend Takashi, who doesn’t have any feelings for Moemi. When Yota confesses to Moemi, with Takashi as his wingman, all of this comes out, breaking both Yota and Moemi’s hearts. Yota, feeling even worse for Moemi than his is for himself, stumbles across a video store called “Gokuraku”, which can only be seen by the pure of heart. The store owner recommends that Yota rent a tape of a “video girl” – a video where an attractive girl provides aphorisms to help you build your self-confidence.
Things don’t go as planned. Yota’s VCR broke earlier in the day, so instead the Video Girl in the tape, Ai Amano, is brought into the real world, with some personality changes. Not deterred by this turn of events. Ai decides to help Yota improve his life. However, as her life is tied to the VHS tape and the VCR it’s playing in. So, once the tape wears out in 3 months or if the tape is erased she’ll die, and a power outage could kill her as well.
This is a very well plotted romantic dramedy. It’s got the magical girlfriend elements of Oh, My Goddess, but overall it’s a more serious work – though there is a fair amount of comedy in this volume, enough to really provide a contrast when the work goes from comedy to drama.
There’s no getting around it. Ai is basically a manic pixie dream girl. She kind of embodies that concept, for good and for ill, and if you can’t stand this type of character, you’re not going to like this series.
Originality: A more dramatic, but still comedic, take on the Oh My Goddess/I Dream of Jeannie/Bewitched Magical Girlfriend show. 4/6
Emotional Response: The writing of the character relationships is very well done, which is good, as (since this is a romantic dramedy), the story lives and its by its character relationships. 5/6
In total, Video Girl Ai, Volume 1, gets 33 out of 42.