Review: Ai Hime – Ai to Himegoto

I just finished reading Ai Hime – Ai to Himegoto (Love and Secrets) by Kako Mitsuki on and I thought I would write my first manga review. The series is made up of three graphic novels and fits into the Shojo romance genre. Alert: Some spoilers!

Mao and Jin from Ai Hime - Ai to Himegoto

The story follows 16-year-old Takagi Mao, a girl often neglected by her business-driven parents. One afternoon, Mao follows a cat through a park of blooming cherry blossoms and finds a beautiful man sleeping under a tree. He kisses her upon waking up and leaves. Mao finds herself constantly thinking about the stranger, and soon discover he is her Oji (uncle), though not by blood. When Mao’s parents leave her in his care, she battles her growing feelings for him.

First, let’s reflect on the Shojo manga archetype to get a sense of where this story fits in, specifically, the high school romance genre. Typically, this genre consists of a beautiful, sometimes naive main character, a love interest (personality varies, but usually he’s a bad boy who bullies the main character), a best friend who constantly gives advice, and the rival love interest (could be male or female).

As for the plot, this genre usually spends 75%+ at school, the meeting (between main character and love interest), the calling (plan to confess love or wait), rival conflict, and the confession. Not all high school romance mangas follow these ingredients (as we are about to see), but for the most part, this formula is repeated over and over.

Ai Hime – Ai to Himegoto is not easy to classify in the high school romance genre–while Mao is a high school student, little of the manga involves her school life. Also, the love interest is not another high school student, but an older man with a stubborn but sweet personality. Lastly, Mao has no best friend/side kick figure, making this manga seem far from high school life genres.

Overall, Ai Hime – Ai to Himegoto is a sweet tale of high school fantasy: girl meets older boy, girl lives with older boy, girl develops feelings for older boy, girl and older boy live happily ever after. In retrospect, however, the plot is static, mostly due to the lack of entertaining characters and subplots. The confession happens at the beginning of the series, leading to anticlimactic and predictable moments.

Still, if the reader is able to get through the cheesy aspects of the first graphic novel, the tender, heart racing moments between Mao and Jin are worth the read. The end also trumps other Shojo mangas I’ve read–it just feels “complete.” Read and find out for yourself!

Liz’s rating: ★★★