One thing I’ve never really taken a look at is OEL manga. I guess there’s a million names for it now, including global manga, amerimanga, etc. I finally got to read Aoi House, a harem comedy set in an anime club.
The Publisher Says:
Alex and Sandy were two normal guys just trying to get through college. That is, until their troublemaking hamster, Echiboo, gets them thrown out of their dorm rooms. With nowhere else to turn, the boys move into an anime clubhouse with five crazed yaoi fangirls calling all the shots!
Elle’s obsessively high-strung, Nina’s too laid back for her own good, Jessica’s a total tease, Maria’s a shy and reserved bookworm, and Morgan’s just plain bonkers! Toss ’em all together and you’ve got a harem comedy that’s truly like none other!
Aoi House is basically a comedy manga made by an otaku for otaku. I wouldn’t go so far to say that the series is pure parody, though there are quite a lot of references tossed around. The ones I can think of off the top of my head are Ebichu, Pokemon, Chobits, and Boku no Sexual Harassment.
There’s also a requisite scene where a guy falls on a girl in such a way that they end up kissing. I seriously don’t think you can enjoy this manga if you’re not up to date (well, at least up to the early 2000s) with current anime culture. For the most part, the manga is actually pretty funny. The yaoi fangirl jokes do wear a bit thin after a while, though. Okay, we get it, the girls like yaoi!
I’ve always had the feeling that OEL manga always seemed derivative of its Japanese counterparts. In the case of Aoi House, I don’t think this really applies. It’s not really trying to be manga; it’s trying to be a funny comic, and I think it succeeds as such.
Character Designs and Art:
Usually, when I look at OEL manga character designs and art, they make me throw up a little bit in my mouth. It’s pretty much the reason why I don’t buy OEL manga. The character designs in Aoi House don’t look like original Japanese ones, but they do come pretty close. After reading the whole volume, I’d even say they’re pretty good!
The characters are all varied and easily recognizable. They’ve all got their own weird quirks and there’s a handy reference in the back of the book that gives all their vital stats, too. The only character that’s starting to bug me is Morgan, the super hyper pocky-eating :3 girl. When I see these girls in real life, I want to punch them. Plus they’re usually about 200 pounds heavier. I think her hyperness could be toned down a bit, but that’s me.
Overall, I think Aoi House is a fun read. There’s a lot of otaku references, so if you’re relatively new to anime, you might be left confused on more than one occasion. A lot of the references are for the series that were popular years ago as well, so new fans of Naruto and Bleach will be like, huh? I’m kind of an old fan, so most of the jokes hit the target for me.