Boyish, confident Mizuki is the female “prince” of her all-girls school. She’s also the lead guitarist in her school’s popular all girl rock band, Blaue Rosen. When Kaoru, Blaue Rosen’s lead singer and Mizuki’s best friend, suddenly announces that she’s moving overseas, the band decides that their only choice is to break up. Or is it?
Feminine-looking Akira is the male “princess” of his all-boys school and one of Blaue Rosen’s (and Mizuki’s) biggest fans. He also happens to have a beautiful voice! Will man-hating Mizuki allow him to join the band? Even if Mizuki allows Akira to join the band, how will he practice and perform with them, given his true gender? And will Akira’s fans from his all-boys school allow him to follow this path?
The gender-bending qualities of this title are what attracted me to it, but sadly, I was disappointed by the content. The artwork and dialogue are of standard quality, but the plot itself was not to my personal taste. After reading the series description, I was looking forward to reading about a sassy, cross-dressing heroine and a gentle hero. Or, even better, a series that featured a sassy hero AND heroine!
Instead, the secret is (spoilers ahead) that despite Mizuki’s confident and cold demeanor, aside from flirting with the other female students at her school, the first year student is deathly afraid of any kind of even semi-intimate relationship, regardless of gender.
The opposite is true of Akira. Despite his innocent and fragile looks, he is experienced, manipulative, and uses whatever advantage he has to get what he wants. At one point, he uses his androgynous sexuality to convince one of his male classmates to rape one of Mizuki’s upperclassmates. Although Akira was using that tactic to avenge the near rape of Mizuki by that same female upperclassman, I found that whole plotline rather… disturbing.
All of the characters are good-looking and the pacing is steady, but, overall, I found that the cute and satisfying aspects of the manga did not outweigh my disappointment in the plot. Instead of a sassy heroine, Mizuki is a weak protagonist who literally must call out to be saved, and instead of a hero, Akira is a manipulative pervert.
The two characters’ “love” for each other is believable, but I found both of them too annoying to really care about where their relationship is going. I guess what disappointed me the most was that I was expecting an unconventional relationship – along the lines of Otomen – but instead found a pretty boring and gender-typical story.
I’m sure that this type of relationship and this series will appeal to some teen readers, but in this time of shrinking collection development budgets, I would advise skipping this series in lieu of titles that have stronger plotlines and characterizations, as well as wider teen appeal.
Ai Ore! Love Me, vol. 1
by Mayu Shinjo
Viz Media, 2010
Publisher Age Rating: OT(16+)