Manga: I"s

I"s is a Rom Com manga series by Video Girl Ai creator Masakazu Katsura.

Ichitaka Seto is a normal Japanese high school student. His one hang-up is that due to a particularly nasty rejection by a girl when he was younger, he can't properly show his affection to anyone he's interested in. Naturally, he's crushing hard on Iori Yoshizuki, a classmate in the drama club that has found a sudden increase in popularity after posing in a swimsuit for a magazine spread.

Despite the seemingly impossible divide, Ichitaka lucks out when he and Iori are appointed to do a skit to welcome incoming students to their school. But his own nature, in addition to his friend Yasumasa Teratani's sometimes ill-advised help, inevitably trip him up. Matters aren't helped any when an old friend of his, Itsuki Akiba, shows up and starts crashing at his place.

The series' name has multiple meanings – it refers to the main characters' initials, but also to ai, Japanese for both "love" and "sorrow". Also, the title is supposed to have two apostrophes (to represent the multiple "I" people), but it's usually written with a quote mark (in part for simplicity and in part because writing it correctly messes with the formatting of wikis like this one).

Running for fifteen volumes, it was adapted into two separate OVA series, and made a surprise appearance in Jump Ultimate Stars.

With its vividly rich graphics, adorable characters, and unexpectedly gripping story, I"s easily qualifies as one of the better manga/anime that you probably aren't reading/watching.


This series has examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Iori has a legion of these. It goes from the ultra-jealous jerkass in her class (later ditched from the true companions because of it), to a multiple-attempted-rapist.
  • Aborted Declaration of Love: Too many instances to count. They range from an unexpected event interrupting, or someone losing their nerve at the last minute.
  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Ichitaka does this post-high school after he believes Iori's given up on him for good and invoked this herself. She didn't.
  • Accidental Pervert: Ichitaka, though it's not always an accident (although getting caught isn't his plan).
  • Airplane of Love: In the two-part OVA.
  • All Just a Dream: Subverted. Right at the climax, we suddenly go back to the beginning, and it looks pretty convincingly like the entirety of the story was this, aside from the very first chapter… until things go wonky and Ichitaka realizes his Christmas Miracle (of getting a chance to redo his romance with Iori from the start) was the real dream.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Played maddeningly straight… until near the end. Prior to the finale, nobody seems to be able to keep a healthy and stable relationship.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Aside from Jun, all teenage males in this series who are around for at least three panels are probably going to make some sort of lewd comment about females. This includes our protagonist.
    • And the worst ones are would-be rapists.
  • Angst Coma: Happens to Ichitaka during the climax. He manages to defeat The Marionette King before Iori can be hurt, but suffers a blow to the head in the process and ends up in one. It takes Iori's voice to snap him out of it.
  • Art Evolution: Overlaps with the Character Development. The appearance of the protagonists in later chapters is quite different from the beginning.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Ichitaka's imagination runs wild at many, many points in the story. It gets him in trouble more than once.
  • Attractiveness Isolation: the only possible explanation for why Iori is not once seen to date anyone during high school.
    • Well, that plus she's had a crush on Ichitaka for as long as he's had one on her.
  • Author Appeal: Katsura is a big Batman fan, and the series is littered with references to it.
  • Author Avatar: There are hints that the author is speaking through Itsuki in the final scene.
  • Badass Longcoat: Would you believe that it's the openly gay Shrinking Violet Jun?
  • Beach Episode: Twice in the manga. Once fairly early on, and then the entire 8th volume (the exact midpoint of the story) is one.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: The Ichitaka/Itsuki pairing might have worked if they weren't so busy being complete jerks to each other.
  • Beta Couple: Teratani and Yuka.
    • Their relationship also serves as a perfect mirror to Ichitaka and Iori – When I/I are feeling awkward at the beginning, Teratani and Yuka are already getting alone fine. During Christmas, when Ichitaka and Iori finally become a couple, Teratani rejects Yuka. Only at the ending are both couples doing well.
  • Betty and Veronica: Iori is the Betty. Every other girl Ichitaka shows interest in (or shows interest in him) is a Veronica, most notably Izumi.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Openly gay-or-bi, Shrinking Violet Jun Koshinae. Do not seriously endanger his friends. If you do, cue Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Ichitaka valiantly tries to save Iori from being assaulted on three occasions. For the second rescue, Ichitaka owns the moment in the manga. In the anime, it is Teratani who saves the day.
    • Given the intensity of the 2nd rescue scene, don't feel silly if you cheer a little when Teratani shows up with the cavalry.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: The Marionette King has stalking, death threats, and kidnapping under his belt. Also Izumi's ex-boyfriend, to a much lesser extent.
  • Boy Meets Girl: It's a Rom Com, so this is pretty par for the course. We learn later Iori considered it "Girl Meets Boy".
  • Break the Cutie: While none of these kids get broken to nearly the extent of some of Katsura's other characters, they certainly suffer some damage. Here is a tally…
    • Iori's rehearsal regime is designed to break her on the theory that it will make her a better actor.
    • Itsuki when she realizes she'll never have Ichitaka's heart.
    • Aiko when her boyfriend dumps her.
    • Iori when she is almost raped for the second time. It's amazing the girl doesn't seem to need therapy by the end. But then she IS an actress…
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Ichitaka has this problem due to being rejected once in sixth grade. In his defense, the girl was pretty cruel about it. Iori has the same problem, but in her case, it's due to thinking that Ichitaka was in love with Itsuki.
    • Jun Koshinae has this to Mr. Higemi, which is understandable considering the teacher-student dynamic and the same-sex issue. By the end, we never learn if Jun spit it out or not.
    • There are a lot of indications that Jun has this for Ichitaka in a bad way. Since he knows that Ichitaka is very much not gay, would never return his affection, and any confession would likely freak Ichitaka out to the point that Jun would lose the friendship he does have, he instead does his best to be The Matchmaker between Ichitaka and Iori.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Teratani. It is heavily implied all his male relatives are like this too.
  • Censor Steam: There was some during the bath scenes in the original Japanese release. There was even more in the English edition. The editing was evidently done with Katsura's permission, and may have been at his request to ensure an American release.
  • Character Development: Loads and loads and loads. By the end of the series, everyone has noticeably grown up from their initial introductions not only physically, but also emotionally. Dramatic enough that when you get to the flashback event at the end of the series you will be absolutely shocked when you realize how far everyone has come and how naturally it progressed that you never noticed.
  • Cherry Blossoms: Very beautifully used.
  • Childhood Marriage Promise: Ichitaka and Itsuki, at least according to Itsuki. Subverted because nothing comes of it. However, Iori knew about it and assumed Ichitaka took it seriously.
  • Christmas Miracle: Deliberately invoked, and referred to by name several times thereafter, but it can't really be explained as well as an excerpt can demonstrate, so…
    Ichitaka: "…In the end, I didn't get to confess my love either."
    Iori: "Confess your love to who?"
    Ichitaka: "Eh?"
    Iori: "Who were you planning… to confess to?"
    [beat]
    Ichitaka: "To you." [internally] I said it.
    [another beat; Iori stares at him; the train stops, and she silently walks off]
    Ichitaka: [internally] She just left without saying a word! Say something! Please! Give me some kind of reaction! [beat] So… that's it, then. So that's reality. That's how it ends; it was over so quick. And from now on, I probably can't even talk to her. What about college? Should I apply to the same one as her, or someplace else? I guess it doesn't matter. [*tearing up*] Nothing matters… not anymore.
    [Ichitaka looks up; Iori has walked back onto the train; they look at each other for quite a long time]
    Iori: "I thought… it was one-sided."
  • Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: Zig-zagged. During the epilogue, Itsuki sends a video from America revealing that she's fallen in love with someone. However, Izumi and Aiko are still single at the end.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Izumi for Ichitaka.
    • Iori acts this way from time to time after she and Ichitaka get together. Especially when she sees Aiko.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Duh.
  • Converse with the Unconscious: Iori to Ichitaka in the finale.
  • Convenient Coma: Ichitaka. Given the circumstances of it and how long he was out, he would realistically have serious brain damage.
  • Compressed Adaptation: I"s Pure takes dozens of chapters of manga and compresses them into 6 OVA episodes. In the process, a few characters get cut out completely, among other things.
  • Daydream Surprise: A running gag for Ichitaka.
  • Declaration of Protection: "I will protect Iori for my entire life!"
  • Distressed Damsel: Iori is almost raped. Twice.
    • Itsuki in the 2 part OVA.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The Marionette King.
  • False Start: for many 10 yard penalties.
  • Fanservice: It's a Katsura comic; this is to be expected. PG-13 doesn't begin to cover it.
  • First Girl Wins: Played with. Iori is the first girl we meet, and she does indeed win. However, Itsuki is the first girl Ichitaka meets, and she turns out to be the Unlucky Childhood Friend.
  • First Kiss: This is a romance, so several characters have it throughout the course of the story.
  • Fully-Clothed Nudity: Itsuki uses this while posing for some art students. Ichitaka freaks out because he thinks she is naked.
  • Genki Girl: Itsuki, Izumi, and Nami sometimes come across this way.
  • Girl Next Door: Itsuki in the narrative sense (especially in flashback), Iori in personality (though not in looks), Aiko literally.
  • The Glomp: Itsuki & Izumi both do this to Ichitaka. Iori is not above it, either.
  • Gonk: The entire Teratani family.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Nami is clearly this trope in-training.
  • High School Sweethearts: It's a romance comic. What do you expect?
  • Hot Springs Episode: Happens in the middle of the story, in the middle of the second Beach Episode.
  • Ignore the Fanservice: Ichitaka with Izumi. She doesn't make it easy.
  • I Never Got Any Letters: Ichitaka agonizes that Iori may have forgotten about him while she is working on her theatre career because he never hears from her. Her agent encouraged/convinced her to write letters instead of calling, and is tossing all her letters into storage instead of mailing them.
  • In Name Only: The first OVA, From I"s, has almost nothing to do with the source material. The story is anime-original, it almost completely ignores Iori in favor of a childhood friend of Ichitaka and Itsuki's, changes the character designs to the point that they look like they're from a different series, and features supernatural elements that are completely absent in the manga.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Ichitaka often takes this stance towards Iori One of his biggest issues is that he's very bad at telling what actually does make her happy.
    • Also Itsuki, to the point that she goes to America to get her out of the way.
    • There are a lot of indications that Jun also has a crush on Ichitaka. Since he knows his affection would never be returned, he does his best to get and keep Ichitaka and Iori together.
  • I Uh You Too: Iori's reaction to Ichitaka's confession.
  • Last Minute Hookup: Teratani and Yuka, though she's shown to like him much earlier in the story.
  • Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone: Duelling. Ichitaka, Iori, Teratani, and Yuka all go to a karaoke bar. Teratani is trying to get Ichitaka and Iori alone together, while Iori is trying to get Teratani and Yuka alone together. The I"s have their Love Confession, but Yuka is rejected.
  • Lethal Chef: Itsuki is a slightly more mundane version – among other things, her scrambled eggs come out charcoal-like.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Deconstructed with Ichitaka and Itsuki's relationship – he feels this way towards her while she nurses romantic feelings for him; when he finally starts to question if he does like her romantically, she realizes this trope is in effect and Ichi is just confused, and she gets over him.
  • Love at First Sight - Ichitaka when he first saw Iori. Iori when she first saw him, apparently.
  • Love Hurts: Does it ever.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Ichitaka, You IDIOT!
  • Love Martyr: Ichitaka breaks up with Iori because he doesn't want to be in the way of her dream to be an actress.
    • Iori breaks up with Ichitaka because she believes (not incorrectly) that her constant absence is making him miserable.
    • Jun arguably is also this for Ichitaka.
  • Love Triangle: Ichitaka with Iori and pick-a-girl-whose-name-starts-with-an-"I" (or sounds like it in Aiko's case).
  • Love You and Everybody: Iori responds to Ichitaka this way on Christmas Eve in the karaoke bar.
  • Magic Skirt: completely averted at every opportunity possible.
  • Male Gaze: taken to a level that almost qualifies as an art form.
  • Ms. Fanservice: About the only girl who doesn't fill this role is Aiko. Mind you, much of the fanservice is via Ichitaka's active imagination.
    • Nami serves as the in-universe example.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Pretty much everyone who gets involved with Iori professionally, with her agent and her director most prominent.
  • The Matchmaker: Teratani is obsessed with this, to the extent that he completely ignores the one girl actually interested in him. Nami also does this for Iori.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Iori at one point is worried that Ichitaka is cheating on her with Aiko.
  • Moment Killer: Ichitaka is a magnet for these.
  • Mood Whiplash: Whenever the Marionette King shows up, this romantic comedy jarringly becomes a suspense thriller with the rather disturbing attempted rape scene(s) of 17 year old Iori.
    • Then again with The Marrionette King during the final chapters, when it takes a 5-page divergence from romantic dramedy to channelling the soul of Hajime No Ippo as Ichitaka breaks said King's kneecap and probably jaw in order to save Iori.
  • No Guy Wants to Be Chased: Izumi aggressively pursues Ichitaka. Itsuki to a lesser extent.
  • Oblivious to Love: Ichitaka to Itsuki's crush. Also, Ichitaka and Iori to each others' crushes.
    • Teratani to Yuka's crush.
    • Likely Mr. Higemi to Jun's crush.
  • Panty Shot: Way too many to count.
  • Please Put Some Clothes On: Ichitaka to Izumi. She is reluctant to comply.
    • Much earlier, Ichitaka says this nearly word-for-word to Itsuki after she shows up (jet-lagged) wearing only her underwear.
  • Put on a Bus: Itsuki short-circuits the love triangle early on when she leaves for America. Aiko does not appear again after her arc concludes.
  • Rape as Drama: Iori is nearly raped twice, both times by the same guy.
    • In the 2 Part OVA, both Itsuki and Iori are targets of this.
  • Rescue Romance: Ichitaka's best moments generally involve him stepping in on Iori's behalf when she's having some sort of problem.
  • Romantic False Lead: It's revealed that Iori sees Itsuki this way.
  • Scenery Porn: Aside from the lovely ladies we mean.
    • The Three Gates Shrine
    • The Christmas Tree
  • Second-Act Breakup: Happens at least twice.
  • Second Love: Ichitaka had a crush on a girl in the 6th grade before he met Iori.
  • Secret Relationship: Iori's agency requires her to keep her "taken" status under wraps – This is actually standard operating procedure in Japanese entertainment circles.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Ichitaka regarding Itsuki.
  • Slasher Smile: The Marionette King.
  • Snow Means Love: Ichitaka confesses on Christmas Eve, as it starts snowing. It's also snowing during the climax a couple years later when Ichitaka keeps The Marionette King away from Iori.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Most of Iori's problems are inextricably linked to her being a first class super hottie.
  • Stalker with a Crush: The Marionette King.
    • Possibly Jun for Ichitaka in a very benign version. Ichitaka even Lampshades it a couple times, thinking how Jun often suddenly appears "like a ninja" when Ichitaka is upset, depressed, and/or wishing he had someone to talk to.
  • Straight Gay: Jun Koshinae.
  • Stood Up: Ichitaka, in one of his admittedly jerkier moves, insists Iori meet him in the park on their anniversary, despite her telling him she can't because she's busy rehearsing. He waits for awhile, but assumes this and leaves. She shows up a few minutes later; he only realizes this after Aiko forces him to follow up.
  • Technical Pacifist: Jun.
  • Theme Naming: All of the romantic entanglements involve someone with the first initial "I"… with the exception of Aiko (and then, the first syllable of her name is pronounced like the letter in English).
  • There Is Only One Bed:
  • Took a Level in Badass: Both Ichitaka and Teratani whenever Iori is in trouble.
    • By the end of the story, everyone has gone through badass level-grinding, as the flashback allows to compare.
  • Train-Station Goodbye: Averted, thank goodness.
  • True Companions: Ichitaka, Iori, Teratani, Yuka, and Nami tend to hang and help each other out whenever they have free time.
    • Jun soon joins as well.
  • Tsundere: Itsuki, Izumi, and Nami.
  • Twice Shy: The story is built on this trope.
  • Unwanted Harem: Ichitaka starts acquiring one of a sort beginning halfway through the story, although he'd rather not. On the other hand, he's well aware of how attractive the unwanted girls are.
  • Uke - Jun, in a milder sense.
  • Will They or Won't They?: They Do, two-thirds of the way in. From that point on the problem becomes staying together.
  • Wild Teen Party: Nami considers this a rite of passage, so she intentionally tries to make it happen. Several times.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Iori, especially early on. Despite her Ms. Fanservice looks and her fame, she remains a kind and polite Japanese school girl. At one point she wore a very formal kimono, and looked pretty good in it.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Part of the school uniform.

Alternative Title(s):

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