I was tempted by the plot of forbidden love, as those always seem to be decent reads. But despite its alluring prelude of the two main characters kissing under a cherry blossom tree when they have never met before, attracted to each other "at first sight", the romance gets rather weak as it started too early and focuses mostly on whether they will "do" it or not for two of the three volumes.
The art, despite the annoying ubiquity of the big eyes, is rather decent and does not intrude in the already staggering plot in a large amount. It is clear and focused and author
Kako Mitzuki does a good job. The harsh art critic, me, has limited complaints.
Regarding the plot again, the ending (no spoilers here since the plot is already too predictable) is resolved too quickly and Mao's (the female lead) parents accept Jinya into their lives too quickly for it to be considered a good ending.
The largest turnoff was the lack of obstacles the couple had to go through. No relationship, especially one this "forbidden" (which the readers will soon find out, if they decide to read it at all is actually not that taboo of a relationship at all) is possible without a few obstacles. At least not those that are good stories.
The plot is weak and unsatisfying despite the promising premise. Find another story about forbidden love to soothe your fix, i.e. the wonderful yet long Boys Over Flowers or fair but better than Ai Hime ~ Ai to Himgoto series The Devil Does Exist.
I picked this manga randomly (real meaning: I saw the review on the front page and entered. It became one of my beloved habits). This is the main result, I guess.
After reading the summary for the first time, I thought about two things. First, this story has to be dark or at least very deep. Second, the plot may be slower than it's seemed to be.
I was wrong,
'Ai Hime' turns the forbidden love story between an uncle and a niece quickly into a light, heart-warming shojo manga. It would be even plainer, if the age different issue didn't appear. However,
in some twisted way, it does the complete opposite. The main issue Mao deals with is when she will be ready to have sex with Jin; a theme that can exist perfectly with characters in the same age.
Expect form that, the manga revolves around a normal relationship under the shadow of being a family. As I mentioned before, 'Ai Hime' isn't the heavy, serious shojo it could have being. Most of the events, if not all, conclude in the same introduction of "He is my uncle" and a rapid salivation that allows Mao's and Jin's relationship grows stronger.
Even though its simplicity, I think 'Ai Hime' holds a lot of potential. In matter of fact, I believe that a longer manga would be more suitable to the storyline. Almost each chapter holds a plot that could be developed easily and leaves more impact on the reader. The short length forces the story race against time in order to touch more aspects of Mao and Jin's life.
Being the main characters of a shojo manga, Mao and Jin's personalities fit perfectly. Mao takes the rule of the cute and caring girl while Jin is the protecting yet mean, guy. The past of both of them is being told, which gives them some depth. However, the way of sharing the materials and using them, gives the feeling it didn’t reach to the peak.
Gladly enough, Mao and Jin aren't alone.
Although its short length, 'Ai Hime' has a large verity of characters. Most of them answer the average demands of their type in an alternative way. Sadly, those glimpses of depth are only given away when Jin and Mao's past involves (except from her parents who have a minor success escaping form the 'curse'). Then, after the nostalgic memories, they only serve the purpose of highlighting Jin and Mao's relationship from different aspects.
(Side note: All of the characters could have being developed much more. I am little disappointed it didn't happened. Although I hate his type of characters, I wished to see more of Satoru.)
The art of 'Ai Hime' is good and more importantly it's steady through all of the manga. However, what made me impressed was the combination between two drawing style. Mao represents the shojo style while Jin has more josei characteristics in his design. Despite those differences, the art makes their coupling looks natural.
Besides that, Jin's facial expressions sometimes gave me the feeling I was looking at a different person (check out the cover of volumes 1 & 3). Other than that, form times to times, the characters' chins and lips seemed a little wired.
For the most part, I was rather disbelieving when I heard some people claim that after reading so much manga, this still remained on their favorites list. Seriously-- thirteen chapters?
But I decided to give it a try. ...and almost dropped it.
You see, the first two chapters, I felt, had the romance going at breakneck speed. It was so sudden I seemed to be rolling my eyes at it already.
However, beyond that, Ai Hime's pace was pretty good, considering the bounds of -thirteen- chapters. It was enough to show the development of feelings, especially the girl's (Mao) without letting too much dead air hang around.
I found their romance realistic and sweet, with a mixture of fear and restrainment.
Don't worry-- the art is absolutely amazing.
I will rate this a 7~
Ai Hime. Give it a try, especially if you are a fan of short shoujos.
This manga is perhaps one of my favourite shoujo mangas of all times. It starts out as a classic boy meets girl. The female and male main characters meet for the first time beneath a sakura tree... surely fated to never meet again. And then of course, they meet again! The female protagonist finds out, that in fact, the boy she kissed is her "uncle" (not blood-related though), and she would be his "niece" and her parents ask her "uncle" to take care of her while they're away. Before I say anymore about this manga, you should know a couple things:
-The age difference between the
characters is quite wide. I would presume the guy has at least 15 years on her. So if you're not comfortable with large age gaps, this is not the manga for you. However, if you're A-okay with that kind of stuff this is definitely your kind of manga.
-While they aren't blood-related, it would technically still be "incest" I suppose... they know from the get-go that he's adopted and they aren't related... so it's not like anything bad can really come from them coming together other than breaking some rather serious taboos.
If you don't have a problem with either of these things, this is definitely a great manga that I would highly recommend. It has quality art, and decent character development. Overall though, what I love about this manga is the overall feel and impression it left me with at the end. It's a gentle, romantic, but mold-breaking manga. It may seem like the common shoujo from a glance, but I assure you it's not!