So… Vampire Cheerleaders! Crazy, wasn’t it? Well, here’s a title by the same folks, and alongside Vampire Cheerleaders, it’s a wonder. Okay, let me set things straight: I kind of like Vampire Cheerleaders. The art is polished, it’s at least semi-creative, and I happen to like it more with each repeated reading. But it’s shallow, vapid, and other terms that mean I don’t like it. And what’s more shallow than a manga about two guys that move into a dorm filled with girls? Well, still Vampire Cheerleaders. But Aoi House is close too.
Plot: Two guys are such losers! One of them more so than the other, but you don’t really feel bad for either one throughout the title. Plus, they seem pretty happy with how they are, so that seems to be a plus. Oh right, “they don’t even have girlfriend”. When they and their panty-stealing hamster (more on that later) get kicked out of the dorms, they move into Aoi House, a dorm with five girls and a secret. Spoilers will be at the end. But they’re not “Aoi House”, they’re “Yaoi House”! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Wait, that’s disturbing.
Yeah, so despite the mano-a-mano idealogy behind the series, there’s never really a point where the girls make them do stuff with each other. No, they just make them do stuff with Carlo, the transsexual. Oh, I already fear this manga. But don’t worry, they only go on a date with Carlo. Still, the character is highly disturbing and I wish to never speak of it again.
My brother is under the impression that this manga is supposed to be more like “real life”. You know, a title where panty-stealing hamsters, seduction hair, Cthulhu, a killer cow waitress, a crossbreed pig-hamster, Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, and a complete lack of morals don’t exist. I don’t even think I have to properly finish this paragraph.
Adam Arnold is up to his old tricks again, with plenty of real-world references being shoved every which way. It’s fine if you do that occasionally, but when you have to use Ai Yori Aoshi as a point of reference? COME ON. Wait, I want to go on a tangent.
Why does Ai Yori Aoshi have so much attention? Did anyone actually read this? It’s not really for standard guys. Look, I love shojo more than most men typically do, but I don’t think most guys would read something this mushy. Not to say men don’t, but come on. Even with the bare breasts (which look off anyway) and the harem elements (which are practically not there, since, let’s face it, did you ever doubt he’d end up with landlady?), it still doesn’t work. And that terrible ending. WHY DO YOU NEED TO SHOW THEM DOING IT? AWFUL! Okay, back to the review.
So… hamster. Yeah, he’s not realistic. I don’t know why my brother thought this had anything to do with realism. Especially the ending. Oh, the ending. But I’m not even halfway done yet. A chunk of the characters are particularly forgettable, excluding Morgan, the obligatory hyper childish girl, Sandy, the charming-in-his-own-way fat nerd, and Echiboo, the hamster. There’s the mean girl, the flirty girl, the shy girl with glasses, the girl who always wakes up topless, and Alex, the long-haired guy with little to none personality. They never really do anything interesting, and if it seems they might, they don’t.
So there’s no yaoi, no realism, no in-depth characters. Okay. So what are we looking at here? It seems we’re looking at a title with a little more soul than Vampire Cheerleaders, but not as much as Paranormal Mystery Squad. Ooh, I can’t wait to get to the ending. But I digress. Aside from the lack of character, there’s nothing to really engage the reader. It’s quite funny, don’t get me wrong. But at times it seems like Adam Arnold didn’t say everything he wanted to in the chapter. And nowhere is this illustrated than the ending. Let’s jump to it!
Not Spoiler-Free Ending At All: Ooh… this was unbearable. Okay, so it seems Morgan was interested in Alex, as was mean girl. But mean girl’s heart was broken, so she left early from a convention to vent. However, the Aoi House members go missing. They find Cthulhu and a killer cow waitress thing, but mean girl stops it. And what was Aoi House this whole time? A TV show. NO. YOU ACTUALLY PULLED THAT ONE. Nevermind that, the girls were totally fine that they were being spied on, even though they knew. In fact, mean girl’s brother was the one who produced the show! That’s nasty! And she still did it after she knew! Oh, but I’m not even close to done. New paragraph!
After this, they all stay in Aoi House. Okay. Instead of a proper ending, we get a video of the best moments in Aoi House, most of which we never saw. Suddenly, even though Morgan and Alex never had proper character interaction, they were suddenly the most lovey-dovey couple ever! It feels completely off and rushed, as does the rest of the chapter. Scenes rush by, like Sandy and Alex’s mother and father (they became step-brothers in the middle of the series) having a baby sister. Or how about that great scene of the second winter they had? Ooh, a snowman! Oh, next scene. OH! And that shark-jumping joke! In one panel, Alex jumps over a shark, clearly being a reference to the series “jumping the shark”! Too bad, though. It already jumped when you did the Cthulhu thing. So, is this the worst part of the series? No, shoving a new character who did nothing into the very end is. But wait, isn’t she… STEPHANIE? FROM PARANORMAL MYSTERY SQUAD? Yeah, so this is her first appearance. She even references the flirty girl at one point! Talk about wasted talent! But I’m only two-thirds done. New paragraph!
What, it’s not over just yet? NO! We have to do an epilogue! And guess who’s there, Katie! Yeah, the period-obsessed sister of Stephanie! She does nothing, but she’s there! Hair antennae and all! Anyhow, Alex and Morgan have kids, as do Sandy and Maria, the aforementioned nerdy glasses girl. Speaking of which, they had far more interaction! But that’s besides the point. Mean girl, like Taco from Midori Days, gets the raw end of the deal by not getting a boyfriend, even though you actually feel bad for them. WHY? There were quite a handful of guys, so just pair her up woth one! And then we get minor character sendoffs, and I do mean MINOR. There was a swimming coach who did next to nothing, and she STILL got a sendoff! It seems a bit odd, but I guess Mr. Arnold wanted to do more with her. And that’s how this whole ending feels: like he wanted to write more, but just couldn’t for whatever reason. It feels rushed and unnatural, but it’s still better than Ai Yori Aoshi.
In the end, there is a nicer feeling emulating from this title, but it’s not as good as I would like. It still has slanted gender values, so it’s a bit hard to read. But if you want get the taste of Vampire Cheerleaders from your mouth, give this one a whirl.
Overall Opinion: Actually, pretty good, albeit the ending is quite horrible. But it’s worth giving a look.
Rating: Two Thumbs Up, Two Stars out of Five, and a “B”.