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Jason Thompson's House of 1000 Manga - Video Girl Ai


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DmonHiro



Joined: 06 Jan 2007
Posts: 2273
Location: Romania, Bucharest

PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 5:23 pm Reply with quote
I read all volumes in one night (12 hours). Yes, it's THAT good.
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jrnemanich



Joined: 24 Aug 2007
Posts: 238
Location: Colorado Springs

PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 6:35 pm Reply with quote
It has to be one of the few manga that i have reread more that 5 times
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gerbilx



Joined: 19 Jan 2009
Posts: 138

PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 6:47 pm Reply with quote
Another great article, but I would have liked a bit more of your thoughts on the anime. The glass stairway scene in the anime is miles more powerful than the original, and undoubtedly one of my favorite scenes in any anime.
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MorwenLaicoriel



Joined: 26 Feb 2006
Posts: 1599
Location: Colorado

PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 8:04 pm Reply with quote
You know, I remember when I was a kid just getting into manga (around middle school or so) I considered reading this series but decided it was "too adult" for me. (And I was probably right, my parents wouldn't have allowed me to read something tackling these sorts of themes and I would've probably been super uncomfortable with it anyway.) Now that I'm older and have been reminded of it, though, I think I might give it a try.
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here-and-faraway



Joined: 21 Jun 2007
Posts: 1357
Location: Sunny California

PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 9:07 pm Reply with quote
This was one of the first manga series I bought and I really enjoyed reading it - but I was new the otaku world and thought that spending around $15 for 15 volumes was way too expensive for my budget so I gave up around volume 9. Oh how far I've traveled (spiraled downward?) since then.... I'll have to look into completing the set.
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ittoujuu



Joined: 25 Sep 2009
Posts: 148
Location: SoCal

PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 9:36 pm Reply with quote
I've never read the Video Girl Ai manga, but the anime was actually the very first anime series I saw, back in the middle of the 90s on a fansub tape. I suppose I could say that this series sold me, heart and soul, on the potential of everything anime is and could be. Never - not once - had an American property felt like it was talking so directly to the kind of person I felt that I was. Of course, I didn't know who Masakazu Katsura was at that time, but I felt like "Whoever made this show, they know what it's like to feel how I feel; to wrestle with the thoughts I wrestle with."

If you separate the true shonen romances out from the purely harem and fanservice shows, and focus on the series that legitimately try to show the emotions and feelings surrounding relationships and romances, I think the thoughtfulness of such series might widely earn the impression of being "feminine." However, it's that unique way shonen romance mixes carnal titillation with noble (and sometimes even pure) romantic sentiment that creates the most accurate reflection of what it's like for a guy to feel those emotions. As Jason said, American guys are expected to like porn, but not like romance, and as far as "stories that demographic would read/watch," I think that's largely true. But for real-life incidents, I think guys wrestle a lot with where they stand on issues of physical attraction and its ever-present siren's call, and the qualities in girls that speak to their inner feelings and make them interested on a personal level.

Shoujo romance can be enjoyable in presenting the clash of emotions, but it lacks the "visual service" that makes a guy's heart race. On the flip side, harem shows present plenty of (attempted) titillation, but in most cases, there's no real emotional connection to the characters, so you can just cut to the chase by buying an artbook for the series.

A good shonen romance shows guys struggling with those factors, as well as other social and personal issues which vary by story. Katsura's I"s was a success in this respect too, I think, and even in series that aren't specifically about romance, he tends to give male characters' thoughts on romance that tenuous balance between self-doubt and elation that rings very true. It feels to me like series with this much thoughtfulness in them have largely either disappeared, or packed up and relocated in the realm of seinen and josei manga. I think the only straight-played shonen romance series I've seen in the last five years that was worth writing home about was Toradora.

This was one of the big genres that got me into anime and manga and delighted me with the idea that there were these stories where cheesecake visual fantasizing, thoughtful romantic pondering, teenage idealism, and straightforward hopes all crossed paths. If I hadn't seen works like Katsura's, I might not have become an anime fan as quickly, or in as great a magnitude, and it makes me sad that works like this just aren't as common today, and that the older classics of this type aren't as available to fans who might be interested in checking them out. Within the sometimes-surreal scenarios posited by shonen romance, I've found many of them to be very heartfelt at their core, in a way that supersedes some of the more fantastical elements, or (like good 'fantasy' fiction) uses those elements to consider common problems from different angles, or in a new light. With the split of "shonen romance" stories into "full-on adult material" and "ineffectual all-ages-appropriate pandering", and the emotional component feeling like it has leaked out of the tubes, seldom to be recaptured, I'm even more thankful for series like Video Girl Ai, I"s, Kimagure Orange Road, Maison Ikkoku, and other greats that were able to more comprehensively capture the feeling of being a guy who likes a girl.
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DanielJr



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 22
Location: MA

PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 3:32 am Reply with quote
Awesome article! And it reminds I should get the rest of the series before it's too late. Love the anime, too, even if it's too short.
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taster of pork



Joined: 11 Nov 2008
Posts: 449
Location: American Empire

PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 3:38 am Reply with quote
Video Girl AI was one of the first Manga's I read. I ended up putting the series on hold and almost forgetting about it. But I recently started reading it again and I'm loving it. I thought the Anime was good too.
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khryoleoz



Joined: 21 Apr 2005
Posts: 155

PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 4:33 am Reply with quote
This is a great manga and set of OVAs. I think its due for a full TV season.
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ptolemy18
Manga Reviewer/Creator/Taster


Joined: 07 May 2005
Posts: 356
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 4:44 am Reply with quote
gerbilx wrote:
Another great article, but I would have liked a bit more of your thoughts on the anime. The glass stairway scene in the anime is miles more powerful than the original, and undoubtedly one of my favorite scenes in any anime.


The anime is great, and like the best OAVs, it manages to compress the best scenes from the manga into a story that stands on its own. (Although the manga has more characters and plot twists and a totally different ending.)

I actually saw the anime before I read the manga. Shortly after our anime club showed the manga, someone started printing little bits of the translated VGAi manga in the club newsletter -- so it was the first scanlation I ever saw. -_- I didn't see the full manga until a little later.

The anime has a couple of nice surreal/thematic touches which, like the glass staircase scene, give the story a bit of symbolism and mystery and extra emotional resonance. I believe the director said he intended the ending to be ambiguous, but it doesn't feel incomplete. There's the mysterious clock, the idea that time stops when you're with the one you love. There's the unexplained image of Yota and Moemi and Ai all playing like friends on a tiny TV screen, as if they can be happy together in the video dreamworld, after all that happened. And there's the various temptation dream/fantasy/illusion sequences in Yota's mind when he enters the Video World. The difference in tone between the first two anime episodes and the final two is pretty amazing, just like the difference in the tone of the manga as it goes on -- it starts out as this fluffy fanservice thing (I love the way the video starts out from Yota's POV, like you really are watching a "Video Girl") and turns into this weird, obsessive, heartbreaking drama.'

The anime soundtrack is also one of my favorites, and I still have both CDs. Basically, it's good stuff.
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taster of pork



Joined: 11 Nov 2008
Posts: 449
Location: American Empire

PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 5:54 am Reply with quote
Quote:
The anime soundtrack is also one of my favorites, and I still have both CDs. Basically, it's good stuff.
I loved the ending song, To That Day. The opening song was also really good.
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Akukame



Joined: 09 Nov 2005
Posts: 115

PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 6:12 am Reply with quote
To my knowledge, Masakazu Katsura's I''s was the first manga every completely scanslated, and a lot of the original developments in the community can be traced back to I''s or the people involved in I''s.

Previous to reading I''s, I had watched anime and read manga before, but never really thought of it as something "different". But, like you said, theres nothing really comparable to shounen romance within american entertainment. And I''s, and all of Masakazu Kastura's works for that matter, are for me, what made me think anime and manga could be something unique. And I credit it with a lot of my fandom.

Of his 3 big romance series, DNA^2 is obviously the weak one. It is paced poorly, and degrades into a weird drgaon ball-esque fireball throwing super hero manga in the latter half. And perhaps its nostalgia, but I've read VGAi and I''s several times now, and I always view I''s as the better of the two. I think the sci-fi elements, when he mixes them into the series, tend to be the biggest detractors. They take away from the human emotions. Video Girl Ai does have a few moments of greatness, that I don't think I''s can stand up to. But, there's also a lot of fumbling around in between them. While on the other hand, I think I''s stays well paced, and tends to be a much more polished ride.

Though I'm not in high school anymore, and 9 years after I read I''s, i don't think I can sit down and read a shounen romance with the same glitter in my eyes as I did back then. And argueably I haven't, in a long while. But there are a couple artists here and there that still spark my interest.

I think Kawashita Mizuki's works are very fanservice oriented. She focuses on T&A like few can. But, being a former shoujo author (shounen ai author infact), I might be in a minority saying this, but I think she brings a certain feminine story telling that most shounen romance writers do not. I think she's one of the few other, current authors, that can bring out that real emotion in the genre. I think theres a few really memorable scenes from strawberry 100% that stand out among all of the series I've read.

I'm also a huge fan of Toume Kei. I think a lot of her works bear a lot of similar themes with shounen romances, but in a much more mature way, for a much older audience. Theres still the innocent romance, and internal dialogue, but with the perversion replaced by a mature story backing it up. Obviously, the focus in her stories is the story themselves, and the romance is second, but it still seems like somewhat of a progression.

I could probably name a couple more, but those are the ones that come to mind.
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enurtsol



Joined: 01 May 2007
Posts: 12153

PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 7:09 am Reply with quote
Wow, I haven't thought about this series for more than a decade. Though I still remember the anime theme songs. They don't make them like these anymore. Too bad there haven't been video rereleases.

(And let's not get into the Viz issue........ lest someone may turn this into a nerd rage that hasn't been let go........)
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Psycho_Despair



Joined: 17 Nov 2009
Posts: 373
Location: Still Trapped in my bookself

PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 2011 8:45 pm Reply with quote
This manga series sounds really interesting, it really has been a long time since I have read a good shonen romance manga.

Is this still availble in print, and is there a big difference between the uncensored and censored version?
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ZipZapZopTitania



Joined: 18 Sep 2010
Posts: 132

PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 2011 10:46 pm Reply with quote
Interesting plot; I won't be reading it any time soon, but the love triangle and the whole how-can-I-love-a-human-when-I'm-not-one thing sounds cool. I'm actually kinda working on a manga with that sort of storyline...less panty shots, though.

I've gotta see that glass staircase scene, though. Weird---The Little Mermaid is exactly what I thought of when I read that~
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