Yuri Manga: Aido (愛い奴)

July 4th, 2011

Aido (愛い奴) by Onazuka Kahori, follows the life and loves of Ureha, a young woman who had some years earlier had an affair with another woman, but is now seeing a young man who is quite serious about Ureha – he’s even proposed, but she has yet to answer him. She’s sure she loves him, but something is holding her back. And then she meets Saori, a woman who lights Ureha’s passion in a way that Ichiru, her boyfriend, never has.

When Okazu Superhero Katherine H. sent me Aido,  she suggested that it very much seemed to her a more modern version of Moonlight Flowers and I can totally see that. Both are about finding one’s true self and rejecting expected roles, so one can become the person one truly wants to be. Unfortunately, where Moonlight Flowers does this with elegance, Aido wallows in vulgarity.

Ureha, as a high school senior had already had a passionate love affair with another girl, and had set it aside as one does with childish things. Ichiru is clearly in love with her, but he starts off dissatisfied at Ureha’s lack of commitment and spends a great deal of the story acting suspicious, mean and churlish. He eventually falls into the time-honored pattern of “if I can’t get what I want, I’ll just take it.” A classic scoiopathy. Here’s a relationship tip – if you go on and on about how you’re *sure* the other person’s going to leave you – they will.

I don’t want to say I object to Ureha and Saori’s relationship, but I can’t say I see a lot of positives in it. Saori’s first act is to humiliate Ureha and that pretty much is their dynamic throughout. It makes it hard for me to like Ureha when she’s put herself in the position of choosing one jerk or another. Unlike Sahoko in Moonlight Flowers, she’s not escaping one demeaning relationship for a relationship between equals – she’s escaping a perfectly acceptable relationship for a demeaning one. Where Kaoru in Moonlight Flowers is cultured, elegant, successful, Saori is a name in the gay bar scene; big fish, small, desperate pond.

The difference between the classic Yuri of Moonlight Flowers and Aido is also reflected in the art. Flowers is, as I said, elegant, classic, clean, where Aido is messy and hard to follow.

Ultimately, Ureha’s choice could seem like a great middle ground to many, but in the end I was unable to find any real enthusiasm for Ureha raising a child whom at a young age, already seemed pouty, cynical and selfish, just like her mother.

There are some positive messages to be gleaned from Aido, though. The main clear and present message that is directed at all straight women is that they really had better never have lesbian sex, because it is just so much more amazing than anything they will ever have with a guy. ^_^

Ratings:

Art – 4
Story – 5
Characters – 4
Yuri – 9
Service – 4, unless you’re into scat, then 9

Overall – 5

Where I found Moonlight Flowers romantic, elegant and beautiful, I found Aido‘s treatment of the same theme to be merely crude.

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6 Responses

  1. Erin says:

    Aido is difficult to follow, and some characters look alike, so it’s probably the sort of manga that takes more than one read to get the plot/characters down–certainly a point against it. Ureha isn’t Ichiru’s student–that’s a different character.
    The other parallel with Moonlight Flowers is that in both cases, the husband/boyfriend rapes the protagonist. This is handled more obliquely in Aido, and Ichiru doesn’t even seem to think of what he did to Ureha as rape (though he does seem to be aware of exactly what he’s doing when he later rapes Sawori). There are also some consent issues in Ureha and Sawori’s relationship–another way in which she traded one jerk for another. Both of them are processing what Ichiru did to them, too, which is another source of conflict in their relationship.
    Aido is certainly darker and more vulgar than Moonlight Flowers, and all of the protagonists are complex, unpleasant people. For that reason, I found it an interesting read. It also went deeper into consent issues than Moonlight Flowers did, though both covered some gender/sexism issues. Ultimately, I felt that Aido was about Ureha’s growth as a person, as she went through two bad relationships and then ended up independent in the end, happy to live on her own with her child.

  2. @Erin – Thanks for the clarification. The art was definitely hard to parse for me, even after two reads I was unable to really find anything to hold on to. The art was, in fact, the first strike against this series in my opinion.

    I understand your perspective, but I respectfully disagree that Ureha’s choice is a good one. It seems the height of selfishness to me.

  3. Erin says:

    @Erica You’re welcome! I was hoping you’d just missed some things, because I didn’t find Ichiru and Ureha’s relationship acceptable after what he did to her, especially since he didn’t think he’d done anything wrong. He seemed to me to be the Nice Guy type: he felt entitled to women and their bodies and didn’t understand why he kept failing with them (rather than viewing them as equals and human beings with concerns and desires of their own). Ureha was never able to share her true self with him (he reflects on how she always wore makeup around him, makeup being a recurring theme in the story), though she did share some of her true self with Sawori and probably her child as well.
    It felt to me like Aido was dealing with the messy, unpleasant side of bad relationships, whereas Moonlight Flowers was more of a straightforward “hero(ine) rescues princess from evil villain” type story. I think both had their strengths and weaknesses, though Moonlight Flowers was certainly easier to follow.

  4. @Erin – Oh, I *definitely* missed stuff. I found this story almost impossible to read, and forced myself to try a second time. The characters were unlikable IMHO and I just never had any sympathy for Ureha. The art was terrible, and that, when combined with character and plot, made for an unpleasant whole.

    Again, I see what you’re saying about realistic but again, I disagree. There wasn’t enough here that read “realistic” to me to keep this from being a wallow in depravity that the heroine miraculous rises from as a clean, virtuous mother. My takeaway was basically, “ugh.”

  5. Erin says:

    @Erica: Yeah, I think we got very different things from this manga. Thanks for discussing it with me!

  6. Unknown says:

    First off, I’m a guy so take my view on this however you like. I do enjoy Yuri romances the most though. I think, in general, the plots and characters ring more true and, oddly for a guy, are more relatable then any other genre of manga/anime.

    That being said, this one just left a horrid taste in my mouth for all the reasons you pointed out.

    I did notice something else about this manga that hasn’t been touched upon. It’s a diatribe of hate towards the male gender. Ichiru’s character path went from dispicable to pathetic. No punishment for his actions nor character growth. He marries for convinence and is ridiculed by his female students… Ok.

    Sawori was an equally disgusting and selfish character, but for some reason her character path leads to an adjusted and relatively happy individual?! And on top of that, the path that led to this (which may have been worth reading; far more then the main plot) isn’t explained in any way.

    Anyways, I knew I should of stopped reading as soon as I saw that the rape was going to be coming. Highly predictable plot development…

    Just two cents from a guy who likes well written Yuri.

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