I"s (アイズ Aizu?) is a Japanese teenage romance manga by Masakazu Katsura. Originally serialized in Shueisha's Weekly Shōnen Jump in Japan from 1997 to 1999, the series was collected into 15 bound volumes, the first of which was released in the United States by Viz Media in March 2005.
The story's main character is 16-year-old high school student Ichitaka Seto who is in love with his classmate Iori Yoshizuki, but too shy to tell her. Again and again he plans to tell her his true feelings, but each time something (usually a misunderstanding of some kind) gets in the way. Things become even more complicated when Itsuki Akiba returns to Japan; she is a girl Ichitaka was friends with in their childhood before she moved to the United States, and who had a huge crush on him.
There was also a two-episode OVA, From I"s (most frequently referred to as just I"s OVA), based on the manga released in 2002, and a new six-part OVA, called I"s Pure, was released in 2005 and 2006. Both I"s and I"s Pure were licensed in the United Stated by Viz Media, and they were released as a box-set on March 24, 2009.
- Ichitaka Seto (瀬戸 一貴 Seto Ichitaka?)
- Ichitaka Seto was born October 3, 1980 has a generally shy and reserved nature, and, due to misfortunes with girls when he was younger, he has acquired a reflexively defensive posture when dealing with women. Thus, he's prone to rude comments when it seems some people are just trying to help, and can place an emotional wall in front of himself when people ask about his feelings. Many complications get in the way of Ichitaka's goal of being with Iori, such as amorous pursuits made towards him by other girls (notably Izumi, who can be seen as being the most assertive in showing her feelings). Regardless, he constantly thinks about Iori and it would seem he'd want nothing more than for her to be his girlfriend. Throughout the series he finds himself lost in daydreaming or imagination, and several times, he even drifts off right in front of Iori.
- Iori Yoshizuki (葦月 伊織 Yoshizuki Iori?)
- Iori Yoshizuki was born March 21, 1981 (she is 16 years old as the series begins). Iori is prim, proper, and friendly, not to mention gorgeous. She's a young lady who's easy to like and get along with. This generally positive outlook is put to the test from the beginning of the series, which opens on a magazine article featuring Iori in a swimsuit spread. Suddenly, Iori's the center of attention, and she finds it difficult to differentiate whether people (particularly men) like her for herself or her beauty.
- Itsuki Akiba (秋葉 いつき Akiba Itsuki?)
- Itsuki Akiba was born October 20, 1981. Loud, reckless, and shameless, and seems to be a complete opposite of Iori, including her affinity towards wearing boyish clothing and having a short haircut. Itsuki and Ichitaka had been friends since grade school, with Itsuki (although a year younger) often being an emotional coach to Ichitaka, particularly with women. The two seemed to become closer than friends in their young life, a relationship that was suddenly interrupted when Itsuki moved away to America four years before the series begins. Itsuki just as abruptly returns to Ichitaka's life soon after the series starts, now a fully grown young lady, but still with real feelings for Ichitaka. Halfway through the series, she goes back to America to work with a world-renowned sculptor and is further unseen. After she's gone, she seems to occasionally appears in Ichitaka's mind to scold him during his bouts of self-pity, though these manifestations are really just Ichitaka's subconscious trying to tell him something important.
- Izumi Isozaki (磯崎 泉 Isozaki Izumi?)
- Izumi Isozaki is a Virgo, two years younger than the other characters and is very much like Itsuki Akiba. However, she isn't as shy in expressing her emotions, especially her love for Ichitaka Seto. In fact, she announces her love to almost everyone she knows. She's also a fair bit more daring and is quite superstitious when it comes to love. She constantly tails Seto, and on more than one occasion, has tried to seduce Seto to sleep with her in order to prove her love. Izumi persists in attempting to obtain Seto's love and says that she will try whatever it takes to get him to be with her. She is introduced half-way through the manga, where she meets Seto on the beach during their summer vacation, and after that, she discovers that they go to the same school. She falls for Seto after he defends her from her overly-aggressive boyfriend, and tricks him into going on dates throughout the series. She is determined that he is her soulmate, and she wants him to be her boyfriend.
- Aiko Asou (麻生 藍子 Asō Aiko?)
- Although her name does not begin with an "I," the "Ai" from "Aiko" represents an "i" sound in Japanese, indirectly marking her as an "i." She is Gemini quite ditzy, scatterbrained and is prone to losing or misplacing her possessions, but she's also very nice, kind, and unbelievably cheerful, even in bad situations. She also has an uncanny resemblance to Iori Yoshizuki, save for a mole under her left eye. Her close resemblance to Iori causes Seto some complications when she is introduced three-quarters of the way through the manga. She, as well as Seto, fall in love with one another at a later point after they meet. Asou realizes this is a potential problem for Seto and decides to move away in order to keep Seto's and Iori's love intact.
One of the series' running gags is the odd similarities between the women who get in the way of Ichitaka being with Iori. Not only do they all have I names (or AI in the case of Aiko Asou) but they all appear very similar in appearance. Izumi looks like Iori when she has long hair and like Itsuki when she has cut it short. Aiko also looks like Iori but this time more of a near perfect double with the exception of a mole on her cheek.
- Yasumasa Teratani (寺谷 靖雅 Teratani Yasumasa?)
- Yasumasa Teratani is Ichitaka's best friend who seems to think himself a pro with the opposite gender despite his somewhat nerdy appearance and lack of success with girls. He is often found giving Seto encouragement and good advice. Though sometimes his help is unwarranted and sometimes ends up in a bad situation, it seems that he means well with his actions and is bummed when Seto doesn't succeed. Ichitaka spends a considerable amount of time through the story continuing to ask for advice, but as the story progresses he learns to not rely so heavily on him. He is generally interpreted as well-meaning but also a jerk, a pervert, and not exactly the smartest person in the series.
- Jun Koshinae (越苗 純 Koshinae Jun?)
- Jun Koshinae is a friend from Ichitaka's class. He is first introduced in Volume 4, during a school trip to Kyoto, when he is paired with Iori. He first seems a threat to Ichitaka, for he seems to be in love with Iori, but eventually, he turns out to be homosexual and is in love with Higemi-sensei, their teacher. Because Higemi-sensei is paired with Ichitaka, Koshinae requests for a trade, bringing the happy Ichitaka back to his crush. From that point on, Jun becomes one of Ichitaka's best friends, and an important listener when he isn't comforted with the advice he got from Teratani. Though he hates physical aggression, he is a very adept martial artist when need be.
- Nami Tachiba (Tachiba Nami)
- Nami is a classmate of Ichitaka, Iori, Teratani, and others, and is generally the mood-maker of the group whenever they are all together on a trip, school project, etc. She is very energetic and cheerful and loves to express herself, though her tomboyish and carefree attitude can make others feel awkward at times. She comes from a very rich family, as it is evident halfway through the manga when the group comes over to her house to organize a group project. Some interpret her as a slut and female pervert, since she has tried to get people to sleep together and has shown off her body numerous times.
- Yuka Morisaki (森崎 祐加 Morisaki Yuka?)
- Yuka is another classmate of Ichitaka/Iori's, and along with Nami, is one of Iori's closest friends. Though she doesn't stand out too much among the rest of the group, she seems to be the only one that Iori can talk deeply to about her issues in life. She (to everyone's surprise) develops a crush on Teratani halfway through the manga, though when he ends up rejecting her those feelings turns into that of contempt. She doesn't exactly hate Ichitaka, but is put off by his timidness. In the end, she supports him all the way.
- "Marionette King"
- A former senior in Ichitaka's high school, he is the main recurring villain of the manga. A sexual deviant, he tries to take advantage of Iori no less than three times throughout the manga with various schemes, but is foiled by Ichitaka every single time. After his unsuccessful first attempt he is expelled from the school, after his second attempt he becomes a drug addict on the verge of insanity, and plays a major role in the manga's final story arc. "Marionette King" is his Internet handle, and his real name is never mentioned in the manga (although in the I"s Pure OVA, his real name is finally mentioned - Samejima).
- Kida Mokichi (Mokichi Kida)
- A classmate of Ichitaka and Iori, and he looks very much like a frog. He is totally perverted and when he sees Iori in the Fuwarin commercial, he becomes what can best be described as a "total psycho", believing that he and Iori are destined to be together. He has tried numerous times to sleep with Iori. After high school, he plays a minor part in the entire plot. He appears once or twice afterwards, but beyond that, he could be considered a minor character.
- Ichitaka's first crush. When she found out about his feelings back in sixth grade, she promptly told him to leave her alone, and she thought he was gross. This started Ichitaka's "bad-luck-with-the-ladies-itis", and made him promise with Itsuki that they would get married someday. Myoko often comes back to haunt Ichitaka in the first half of the series through wild daydreams and hallucinations, but this has stopped as Ichitaka's confidence grew.
- An interesting note: there is a girl in Ichitaka's graduating class named Myoko, though whether she is the Myoko referred to here is highly questionable.
- Volume 1 (Japanese edition: ISBN 4-08-872411-9; American edition: ISBN 1-59116-952-6)
- Volume 2 (Japanese edition: ISBN 4-08-872412-7; American edition: ISBN 1-59116-953-4)
- Volume 3 (Japanese edition: ISBN 4-08-872506-9; American edition: ISBN 1-59116-969-0)
- Volume 4 (Japanese edition: ISBN 4-08-872531-X; American edition: ISBN 1-4215-0054-X)
- Volume 5 (Japanese edition: ISBN 4-08-872553-0; American edition: ISBN 1-4215-0188-0)
- Volume 6 (Japanese edition: ISBN 4-08-872592-1; American edition: ISBN 1-4215-0333-6)
- Volume 7 (Japanese edition: ISBN 4-08-872617-0; American edition: ISBN 1-4215-0648-3)
- Volume 8 (Japanese edition: ISBN 4-08-872639-1; American edition: ISBN 1-4215-0649-1)
- Volume 9 (Japanese edition: ISBN 4-08-872681-2; American edition: ISBN 1-4215-0650-5)
- Volume 10 (Japanese edition: ISBN 4-08-872727-4; American edition: ISBN 1-4215-0651-3)
- Volume 11 (Japanese edition: ISBN 4-08-872747-9; American edition: ISBN 1-4215-0652-1)
- Volume 12 (Japanese edition: ISBN 4-08-872791-6; American edition: ISBN 1-4215-1074-X)
- Volume 13 (Japanese edition: ISBN 4-08-872821-1; American edition: ISBN 1-4215-1075-8)
- Volume 14 (Japanese edition: ISBN 4-08-872846-7; American edition: ISBN 1-4215-1076-6)
- Volume 15 (Japanese edition: ISBN 4-08-872887-4; American edition: ISBN 1-4215-1077-4)
Edits in the English editions
Several of the English volumes of I"s include editing, covering nipples to tone down the series' nudity, as VIZ stated "to fit the criteria of audiences in the U.S.". These edits were done with the approval of Katsura. However, as of the 13th through 15th volumes, the censorship of nudity has ceased.
- In Volume 1 on page 65, In the picture of Iori's head put onto a nude model, Iori's nipples were covered by stars.
- In Volume 2 on page 116, when Ichitaka accidentally walks in on Itsuki coming out of the shower, Itsuki's nipple was replaced with a water droplet.
- In Volume 3 on page 51, Kyoko's exposed breasts are covered with water bubbles.
- In Volume 7 on page 8, Nami's nipple is covered by the sound effect "sloop"
- In Volume 8 Nami's and Iori's nipples are covered by wisps of steam on pages 70 and 80, Izumi's nipples are erased on pages 77 and 82, and Izumi's nipples are covered in water bubbles on page 90.
- In Volume 12 on page 15 Iori's nipples are erased, and her lower area is covered by a wisp of steam.
From I"s OVA
From I"s (フロムアイズ Furomu Aizu?) is the first OVA based on I"s, consisting of two 30-minute episodes, released December 9, 2002 and March 19, 2003, respectively. A box set containing both episodes as well as a making of documentary on a third DVD, was released on March 25, 2004. The story of From I"s is not an adaptation of a story from the manga, but a new story set during the characters' summer holidays.
Iori spends her holidays working as an actress, shooting a movie at the waterside of a lake, which has a mysterious small island called Lover's Island at its center. Ichitaka, on a biking trip, coincidentally makes a stop at the location where Iori is shooting. Meanwhile, Itsuki returned from her job as a molding artist in the United States and plans to meet her childhood friend Yosuke to fulfill a promise they made ten years ago. Walking along the railroad track she, Yosuke and Ichitaka went along ten years ago, Itsuki is confused when she sees the lake with the small island in it at one side of the track, as she does not remember there being a lake. Yosuke, along with three of his biker friends, is also on his way to meet with Itsuki. However, the other bikers reveal to him that they are planning to rape Itsuki. He drives ahead to save Itsuki from them, but drops from his motorbike just as he crosses her path. The other bikers close in on him, stab him and let him drop into the lake (which he can not remember being there when he was a child). As the bikers spot Itsuki, she runs away.
Yasumasa and his friends want to pick up Iori at the Lake Side Hotel, but she already left as her shooting finished early. Meanwhile, she meets Ichitaka and they decide to take a boat and row across the lake to the island. As they arrive, Ichitaka recognizes the island as the place he, Yosuke and Itsuki visited as children, although back then there was no lake around it. Just then, Iori and Ichiitaka hear Itsuki on the other side of the lake screaming for help as the bikers found her and now want to rape and kill her. Ichitaka quickly rows over, leaving Iori alone on the island. He manages to hold back two of the bikers, but their leader knocks Itsuki out and abducts her on his motorbike. As it starts to rain heavy, Ichitaka follows them, while Yasumasa and his friends, who suddenly show up, take out the two bikers. Ichitaka takes a shortcut across a fragile old plank bridge to catch up with them, but the bridge collapses. Swinging down on one of the ropes that hold the bridge, Ichitaka grabs Itsuki from the back of the motorbike. Together, they drop into a stream and as they regain consciousness, find themselves at the waterside of the lake with the ghost of their childhood friend Yosuke standing nearby. Across the lake, they spot Iori on Lover's Island, close to drowning as the heavy rain threatens to flood the tiny island. As no boat is around, Yosuke reminds Ichitaka of a secret cave they found nearby when they were kids, that leads to the island. However, the cave is flooded with rain, and Ichitaka has to dive through the last part and manages to save Iori from drowning at the last second.
After saving Iori, everyone is playing beside the dock, and Itsuki wonders where Yosuke went. The scene after shows the local police searching for Yosuke's body in the water, but to no avail. High above the dam, Yosuke appears on a cliff, smiling, and then his spirit fades away. It is assumed that he died from the stabbing wound inflicted on him earlier on in the OVA.
- Kumi Sakuma (Japanese)/Erika Weinstein (English) as Iori Yoshizuki
- Takahiro Sakurai (Japanese)/Darrel Guilbeau (English) as Ichitaka Seto
- Tamaki Nakanishi (Japanese)/Carrie Savage (English) as Itsuki Akiba
- Atsushi Kisaichi (Japanese)/Mike McFarland (English) as Yasumasa Teratani
- Kazuya Ichijo as Ichimura Yosuke
I"s Pure OVA
I"s Pure is the second OVA based on I"s, a 6-episode OVA series animated by ARMS, produced by Pierrot, and released on DVD in Japan by Liverpool. There is also a DVD volume 0 containing promotional and background material.
- "Au commencement" (French for the beginning; released December 9, 2005)
- "Souvenir" (French for to remember; released January 27, 2006)
- "Adieu" (French for good-bye; released February 24, 2006)
- "Vertige" (French for giddiness; released March 24, 2006)
- "Déclaration d'amour" (French for declaration of love; released May 26, 2006)
- "Ensemble" (French for together; released June 23, 2006)
The OVA generally follows the main plot of the manga, but due to the shorter nature of the OVA, few of the main characters play a less prominent role (for example, Itsuki only lasts three episodes before her departure and Izumi only appears in the beach storyline arc from manga volume 8) and others such as Jun and Aiko are omitted altogether. Due to the missing characters, there are many situations in the OVA that follow the plot in the manga but are played out by different characters.
- Katsuhito Nomura (Japanese)/Darrel Guilbeau (English) as Ichitaka Seto
- Shizuka Itō (Japanese)/Erika Weinstein (English) as Iori Yoshizuki
- Asuka Nakase (Japanese)/Carrie Savage (English) as Itsuki Akiba
- Nobuyuki Kobushi (Japanese)/Mike McFarland (English) as Yasumasa Teratani
- Atsuko Yutani as Keiko Seto
A video game based on the I"s Pure OVA and also called I"s Pure was released on November 9, 2006 for the PlayStation 2 in Japan.
Additionally, despite being a romantic dramedy, four characters from I"s (Iori, Itsuki, Ichitaka and Izumi) are featured in Jump Ultimate Stars, a fighting game featuring many characters from popular Shōnen Jump series. None of the I"s characters fight directly, and simply serve a support role for other characters.
Notes and references
- "Box Set with Viz's I"s, I"s Pure Listed on Retail Site (Update 2)". Retrieved 2009-01-17.
- Liverpool Publisher of I"s Pure OVA (Japanese)
-  Masakazu Katsura's official website for I"s (Japanese)
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