Author: Adamn Arnold
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: August 2007
Synopsis: “Alex, Sandy and panty-stealing pet hamster Echiboo have survived an entire semester of unspeakable tortures at the hands of five crazed yaoi fangirls. Now the whole gan is off to the anime convention Hatsu-Con where sparks fly as the Aoi House gang comes face-to-face with their bitter rivals: “They-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named!”
Aoi House in Love! continues to follow the story of Alex, Sandy and their pet hamster who have made themselves residents at a live-in club at their college. However what they believed to an anime club turned out to actually be the infamous Yaoi House, its true nature hidden by the lacking letter y on their sign. Run by yaoi-crazed fan-girls, the three have been at their mercy ever since. With a well-written synopsis at the front of the book, people who have not read Aoi House will not be stopped from enjoying this book to its fullest. In this first volume of the two-part series, Alex, Sandy, ‘Echiboo’ and the five fan-members are off to an anime con.
Aoi House in Love! is a perfect balance of anime stereotypes, humor and human drama that pokes fun at all aspects of anime and yaoi fandom. It never goes so far as to feel offensive and at the same time never takes itself too seriously. The pages are littered with anime character cameos via numerous cosplayers that really make readers feel like their viewing something done by a true fan. With appearances from popular characters like Inu-Yasha to the dancing-sensation, Haruhi and all the way down to the con-popular, Man-Faye, there will someone noticeable in this book for everyone.
What makes this book’s humor work so well is it never needs to stretch itself far to make a joke funny. It gives you the truth of various aspects of the anime fan-community’s antics and behavior, leaving it up to the reader to take what they will from it. Moments such as the group’s yaoi panel will have yaoi fans and non-fans alike, laughing, sighing and shaking their head at the seemingly ridiculous, yet completely accurate, accounts of the world of slashed characters and male on male stereotypes flourished by the online community. This scene in particular really feels like a perfect homage to aspects of the present-day crazes flooding the Internet, all the way to Harry Potter slash and beyond. Underlying drama and character relationships will help hold all the gags and laughs together in this nicely balanced plot.
A well-written story also benefits greatly from its art and this is no exception. The artist clearly knows what they’re doing with the attractively laid out panels and vibrant characters. Moments of humor are well expressed through the ‘super-deformed’ style that never seems out of place and truly aids in bringing attention where it’s due, from comedic expressions to moments of sheer fan-girl-chaos. It is one of the most clean and solid original English language releases currently available today in the anime-style. All together the book is a smooth read and scenes seamlessly flow from one to another so well that one could envision this transferring over to the animated medium easily, panel to panel.
The cover art is bright and colorful and I’m sure would catch the eye of any who happen to spot it. It’s an excellent representation of the joyful-mayhem readers will find inside. The book itself is well put together with no notable errors and has solid binding. Included at the back of the book are full colour comic strips previously featured in NewType USA, a nice bonus for fans who enjoyed reading them in the monthly magazine. Notes from the creators also do well to finish rounding out this release.
If its predecessor Aoi House is as entertaining, well written and superbly drawn as its follow-up release, then it’s certainly the next thing to hit this reviewers shopping list, right next to volume two. If you have a sense of humor and want something fun and simple to read, then Aoi House in Love! may be exactly what you’re looking for.