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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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04/16/2006 Archived Entry: "Manga review: I"s, Vol. 5"

I"s, Vol. 5
by Masakazu Katsura

Review by Tom Good

Poor Ichitaka has two beautiful girls in his life, the classic beauty Iori and the sexy artistic girl-next-door Itsuki, but he cannot make up his mind about how he feels about them. One day he walks arm in arm with Iori through some Torii gates at a shrine known for bringing happiness to couples. But later he rushes back to find Itsuki after hearing that her house burned down, and their encounter revives his interest in her. But by volume 5, Ichitaka's indecisiveness has started to get tiresome, and the series needs some new plot twist to keep things fresh. Though the first half of this book drags a bit, a promising new character and plot direction arrives near the end.

In the first scene of the book, Ichitaka sees a young girl who yells at him and criticizes him. New readers to the series might be confused by this, because she appears real but Ichitaka is just imagining her. She is an apparition of a girl who rejected him in the past. This past trauma hurt his confidence, and now he tends to second-guess all of his decisions, which explains some of his difficulties with relationships.

Later in the story, after Ichitaka has managed to offend both Iori and Itsuki, the school gets a new art teacher, Mr. Takezawa. Takezawa is a handsome 28-year-old who immediately provokes schoolgirl crushes, and he also happens to be Itsuki's private tutor in sculpting. Naturally Ichitaka feels jealousy and resentment towards him, but Takezawa also seems like just the sort of mature guy who could be a great role model for Ichitaka, so it will be interesting to see where this story goes. The book ends with a bang, with a very strange but funny gag about a nude model in the school art class.

I"s is a good realistic romantic-comedy manga. By "realistic" I do not mean that everything in it is completely believable, but that it avoids fantasy and science fiction elements like monsters and mecha. It is based in our own world, and makes that world seem full of possibilities.

See also:
Review of I"s Vol. 1 and 2

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