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In the not too distant future, the world has just recovered from a conflict that nearly ended it, and humanity is slowly becoming extinct. All this takes a back seat to the story of Ikuru.
Several years ago, Ikuru and his family had been in a grievous accident (of which he was the sole survivor) and the only way to save him was to transplant a significant amount of parts from someone else. While this was done to save his life, it turned out that in the long run, these transplanted parts were actually killing him gradually.
Thus we come to our hero, who at the story's start comes to terms with his mortality and orders a companion for him to live out his last days in relative comfort - an artificially-created girl who Ikuru names Ai. Ai gives Ikuru's remaining days a surprising amount of meaning - running him through a veritable emotional roller coaster.
This manga is a Slice of Life story set in a dystopian world, which shows off the contrasts between Ikuru and Ai's existence with the state of the world they live in. While the setting is admittedly bleak, many things (Ikuru and Ai's relationship is a significant one) show that even in mankind's darkest hour, meaning can be found amidst the end... and The Power of Love can be miraculous.
All that aside, this is a wonderful Manga series that will probably never get as wide an audience as it should, because of its Seinen aspects, foremost of which is Ikuru and Ai consummating their relationship, among other, smaller things.
Troper's Note: Because up to now there has been no official English translation of Ai-Ren, all quoted lines are from the Solaris-SVU fan translation.
This manga contains the following tropes:
- After the End
- Artificial Human: Ai
- Bleached Underpants: Kind of, because this manga has much more plot than it does porn. Tanaka-san's resume also includes Virgin Night and My Lovely Ghost Kana, which ups the plot-to-porn ratio significantly enough for this manga to technically qualify for this trope.
- Can't Have Sex Ever: Haruka-sensei.
- Dark-Skinned Blond: Carmelo Carmel
- Enfant Terrible: The child Ikuru carries outside the dome.
- Go Out with a Smile
- The Grim Reaper: Ikuru sees a girl's silhouette he feels to be this. It's actually an older-looking Ai. She also saw herself in that form several times.
- Haruka-sensei also sees the silhouette once or twice.
- Hope Spot: The long-lived tomato plant.
- Hot for Student: Ikuru and Haruka-sensei. It Makes Sense in Context.
- Ill Boy: Ikuru. Technically, Ai also counts as she has a limited lifespan.
- Innocent Fanservice Girl: Ai, especially in the earlier chapters.
- Ironic Echo: Soon after Ikuru acquires Ai, she strips naked and comforts him with a hug. Not long after that, Ikuru reciprocates when he finds her crying and fearful of her death after witnessing his near-death experience. Both are done in a very tender, nonsexual manner.
- Killed Off for Real: Ikuru and Ai, bordering on It Was His Sled territory.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Played straight and possibly subverted with Ai. She's the silhouette of the girl Ikuru sees whenever he's close to death.
- Meaningful Name: "Love" in Japanese is "Ai".
- Mind Screw: Most of HITO's interactions with Carmelo Carmel end up being like this.
- Minimalism: It's Tanaka Yutaka's Signature Style.
- Mood Whiplash: Also happens rather often. Chapter 40.5 has a rather jarring one.
- If it has the name Tanaka Yutaka on it, expect lots of whiplash and get some tissues handy. He's the patron saint of the trope.
- No Export for You: Not if you know where to look.
- No Periods, Period: Averted. Haruka-sensei also ends up contemplating on the consequences should Ai end up pregnant with Ikuru's child.
- Odango Hair: Haruka-sensei fixes up Ai's hair in this manner once.
- Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Death
- Porn with Plot: very, very light on the "Porn" part.
- The Power of Love: It's what rescues Ikuru from despair. It also saves Haruka-sensei from her own despair at Ikuru's (impending) death.
- Punny Name: Not intentional, but "Ai" sounds a great deal like the word for "love" (ai); and the pronoun referring to oneself ("I").
- Real Men Wear Pink: Ikuru is a skilled chef.
- Scenery Porn: Happens a lot throughout the manga, but not to the point where it becomes egregious.
- Slice of Life
- Snow Means Love: Snowy Landscape: Humanity's Hometown
- White-Haired Pretty Girl: Haruka-sensei.
Even if the world comes to an end...
Even if you die... or I die...
It's not that big a deal...
...it's not that big a deal.