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I”s Vol. 1 by Masakazu Katsura (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

March 16, 2005 by  



is-1

From the creator and artist of “Video Girl Ai” and “DNA 2” comes “I”s” vol. 1.  A romantic comedy about a shy teenager who is in love with the most beautiful girl in class, but while a kindhearted guy, he always ends up at the wrong place at the wrong time.  A manga series that is recommended!

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© 1997 by Masakazu Katsura. All Rights Reserved.

MANGA TITLE: I”s vol. 1 (アイズ)

STORY AND ART BY: Masakazu Tamura (桂 正和)

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: SHUEISHA, Inc.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Shonen Jump Advanced

RATED: A for All Ages

RELEASE DATE: March 16, 2005

Shy Ichitaka has a crush on his high school classmate Iori, but ever since she posed for semi-provocative swimsuit photos in a magazine, she’s had a lot of sleazy guys hitting on her. Ichitaka’s afraid to make his feelings known in case she thinks he’s just another creep.

Torn between his physical feelings for Iori and his desire for real love, Ichitaka’s life gets more complicated when his childhood friend Itsuki moves back from America and ends up living in his house!

Itsuki’s no longer the young girl Ichitaka remembers – she’s a babe who is open with her feelings and not shy about walking around in a towel! How will Ichitaka hide a barely clothed Iori from his crush Itsuki?

From Masakazu Katsura, the creator of “Video Girl Ai”, “Wing-Man”, “Zetman” and “DNA2”, comes a romantic comedy manga series titled “I”s” (pronounced as ai-zu).

The series was created back in 1997 and ended in 1999 with a total of 15 volumes and sold over 10 million copies in Japan.

And now the series will be released by Viz Media as part of their “Shonen Jump Advanced” imprint.

“I”s” is a manga series that revolves around teenager Ichitaka Seto.  He is extremely shy and has a major crush on Iori Yoshizuki (a classmate who appeared in a swimsuit spread recently) and has become popular in school.

Ichitaka tends to get his information on Iori from his best buddy, Yasumasa Teratani, who tends to talk to Iori often.

One day, their teacher Hiromi Hanazo elected Ichitaka and Iori to be part of the committee to welcome new students.  While Ichitaka and Iori meetup, she is trying to be nice but Ichitaka is too shy and tends to overthink things that he comes off as if he dislikes her.

Iori thinks that may be Ichitaka doesn’t  like her but the truth is that he just doesn’t know how to open up in front of a girl.  So, Iori tries to make the best of the situation and gives him a sketchbook and because both of their name start’s with an I, she calls their group, I’s.

Meanwhile, guys who saw Iori’s swimsuit spread, wants to use her by putting a hidden camera while she’s changing.

When Yasumasa tells Ichitaka what has happened, Ichitaka tries to protect Iori and threaten the guys that whoever messes with Iori, must mess with him.  But in the process, he is blamed as one of the guy’s who is a peeping tom, leaving her in tears.

What will Ichitaka do, now that Iori thinks he’s a pervert?

As a fan of Masakazu Katsura’s manga series, when it comes to his romantic comedies, I like how he is able to explore awkwardness and also sexual thoughts in his romantic comedies.

In “Video Girl Ai” (Denei Shojou), he explored a virgin/shy teenager who discovers a video tape featuring a video girl who becomes real.  In “DNA2”, he explored a virgin/shy teenager who is accidentally shot by an officer from the future that turns him into a Mega Playboy.

And now with “I”s”, we have a series that unlike the two I mentioned, has nothing to do with supernatural abilities or fantasy, it deals with life of a shy high school teenager but he has no magical connection, he’s just a teenager who has been in loved with Iori, but is unable to voice how he feels or talk to any girls, because he’s so shy.

Unfortunately, whenever he is Iori and tries to help her, he’s somehow showcased as a major pervert and she gets turned off by that.

So, for the first volume, it’s about shy Ichitaka Seto, getting the opportunity to talk and sit close next to Iori, but things don’t usually go his way.

But will his love for her, ever be realized by Iori?

As always, Masakazu Katsura’s character designs are magnificent.  He tends to fill up panels with many people and sometimes goes all out with backgrounds illustrations and more!  He’s one of the talented writers and manga artists in Japan and every series he releases, I’m instantly drawn to them and have not found one bad one yet.

It’s important to note that unlike Katsura’s “Video Girl Ai”, which was released by Viz Media, the company chose to censor “I’s” and not show the nudity, which I know, will upset some fans.

Overall, If you are fan of Masakazu Katsura’s previous work such as “Video Girl Ai” or “DNA 2”, I definitely recommend the first volume of “I”s”!

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