Video Girl Ai: Vol 2 – Mix Down
Video Girl Ai: Volume 2 – “Mix Down”
By: Masakazu Katsura
Review by Kimberly Godwin
Yota Moteuchi is an unpopular and kindhearted 16 year-old high school student with a crush on Moemi, whom he thinks is the cutest girl in his class. His best friend and seemingly only friend, Takashi happens to be one of the most popular guys in school and all the girls love him… unfortunately, Moemi is one of them. But, Takashi encourages Yota to confess his love to Moemi and even gets them to have a moment alone together and then… something goes horribly wrong – Moemi accidentally confesses her crush on Takashi and Takashi very bluntly rejects her. Yota regrets his own cowardice and despite his feelings for Moemi, encourages her to pursue a relationship with Takashi. Later on that night in a quiet moment alone, he sheds tears over Moemi’s unnecessary heartbreak and comes across a mysterious video store, which gives him a free rental of a tape called, “I’ll Cheer You Up”. When he plays the video tape back he is consoled by the girl on the video named Ai Amano who magically comes to life and turns his life upside down as she attempts to help Yota win Moemi’s love.
Video Girl Ai Volume 2 expands on the previous established themes of love and friendship in the past volume and asks its readers a new question: “What would you do if you suddenly realize that you have fallen in love with your dearest friend?” Yota suddenly has to come to grips with his growing feelings for Ai when she “mysteriously” vanishes without a trace. The “Creator” or rather the “God” that created Ai has taken her back to the Gokuraku video store in order to erase the now defective Video Girl who is less than perfect with the weakness of human emotions like love and jealously. Ai is given the ultimatum: “Distance yourself from Yota and see him again” or “Confess your love for him and disappear from his life forever”. With such a choice it’s not hard to guess what Ai chose to do but Yota’s growing confusion for what’s going on is tearing him apart with his past feelings for Moemi returning whenever he sees that she is suffering in silence through the possibility that Takashi may not have any feelings for her at all.
This manga never seems to fail to pull you in and keep you wondering what will happen next. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Video Girl Ai and look upon it with a sincere fondness for the artwork, story and characters. I can honestly relate to the human elements in the story and each volume never fails to disappoint me. The only thing that I dislike about this manga is that I don’t have the full story yet but I’ve been following this release for the past four years and I have yet to be let down by it. My feelings on this particular volume are that the cliffhanger ending is brutal on your heart- you are left grasping for the next foothold to see what’s going to happen next. As always, Katsura’s artwork is gorgeous and the body language of the characters always comes across as natural. Even without any words or exaggerated facial expressions, you get the feeling of the emotions that the characters are experiencing and the characters just come across as real and human.
Video Girl Ai is truly a story with the ability to touch the hearts of anyone who takes the chance to get to know Yota, Moemi, Ai and Takashi. The story might appear to be a typical teen drama that is common to many manga, but Video Girl Ai definitely stands on its own with the supernatural twist of the Video Girls and the Gokuraku. I highly recommend this series for anyone who loves a good story with real characters that you can relate too. If you were touched and enthralled by the first volume, I really recommend going out and picking up the other volumes as well – you definitely will not be disappointed.