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I"s is a 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 sometime's 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 it would mess with wikis like this one).
Running for fifteen volumes, it has been adapted to anime twice, and has 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/animes that you probably aren't reading.
Is 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 Nakama), to the rapist type.
- Aborted Declaration of Love - Too many instances to count.
- Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder - Ichitaka
- Accidental Pervert - Ichitaka, though it's not always an accident (although getting caught isn't his plan).
- Airplane of Love - in the 2 part OVA.
- All Just a Dream - Subversion - first, it looks pretty convincingly that all the preceding 141 chapters have been this, save for like the first half of the first chapter, until things go wonky and Ichitaka realizes his Christmas Miracle was the real dream
- All Love Is Unrequited - Until the finale, nobody seems to be able to keep a healthy and stable relationship (although it's left ambiguous as to whether Jun and Mr. Higemi get together).
- All Men Are Perverts: Aside from Jun, all teenage males in Is who are around for at least three panels probably are going to make some sort of lewd comment about females.
- Angst Coma
- 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.
- 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 Seto 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 - 2 in the manga.
- 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, while Ichitaka and Iori finally become a couple, Teratani rejects Yuka. Only at the ending both couples are doing well.
- Betty and Veronica - Iori is the Betty, and the other I girls take turns being Veronica.
- Beware the Nice Ones - Openly gay-or-bi, Shrinking Violet 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. Also Izumi's ex-boyfriend, to a much lesser extent.
- Bottle Fairy - Nami is clearly a Bottle Fairy-in-training.
- Boy Meets Girl
- Break the Cutie - None of the characters are actually broken in Is, but they do 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 is amazing she didn't need therapy by the end of the story!.
- Cannot Spit It Out - Ichitaka has this problem due to being rejected once in middle school. Iori has the same problem, but in her case, it's due to thinking that Ichitaka was in love with Itsuki.
- There are a lot of indications that Koshinae has this for Seto in a bad way. Since Koshinae knows that Seto is very much not gay, would never return his affection and any confession would likely freak Seto out to the point that Koshinae would lose the friendship he does have with Seto, he instead does his best to be The Matchmaker between Seto and Iori.
- Casanova Wannabe - Teratani (and it's implied that all his male relatives are as well).
- Censor Steam - At the request of the artist, more was added to the earlier volumes 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.
- Christmas Miracle: Referred to several times thereafter, but can't really be explained as well as an excerpt would demonstrate it, so...
Ichitaka: "I didn't even get to confess..."
Iori: "... who were you going to confess to?"
Ichitaka: "To you..." (internally) "I did it!"
(A beat. Iori stares back. The train stops, and she silently walks off.)
Ichitaka (internal): "No... no way... no way... That's reality... it was too quick... the way it ended... now we won't be able to talk to each other... and university... should I keep aiming for the same one? Or just give up the whole idea... whatever I do doesn't matter..." (tearing up) "It won't do any good..."
(Ichitaka looks up. Iori has walked back on the train. They look at each other.)
Iori: "I thought... it was one-sided...
- Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends - Somewhat subverted: while Itsuki sends a video from America revealing that she's fallen in love with someone, Izumi and Aiko both are single at the end.
- Clingy Jealous Girl - Izumi for Ichitaka.
- Coming of Age Story - Duh.
- Converse with the Unconscious - Iori to Ichitaka in the finale.
- Convenient Coma
- 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.
- Distressed Damsel - Iori, twice, is almost raped.
- Itsuki in the 2 part OVA.
- Estrogen Brigade Bait - Ichitaka sure is popular with the girls.
- By the end of the series he's filled out into a full-blown stud.
- Specially considering the fact that he's finally grown some self-confidence.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep" - The Marionette King.
- "Falling in Love" Montage
- False Start - for many 10 yard penalties.
- Fan Service - PG-13 doesn't begin to cover it.
- First Girl Wins - Guess who.
- First Kiss
- 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 and literally Aiko.
- The Glomp - Itsuki & Izumi both do this to Ichitaka.
- Gonk - The entire Teratani family.
- Happy Ending
- High School Sweethearts
- Holding Hands - The Final Scene.
- Hot Springs Episode
- Ignore the Fanservice - Ichitaka with Izumi.
- 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 would make her happy.
- Also Itsuki, to the point that she is Sent To America to get her out of the way.
- There are a lot of indications that Koshinae also has a crush on Seto. Since he knows his affection would never be returned, he does his best to get and keep Seto and Iori together.
- I Uh You Too - Iori's reaction to Ichitaka's confession.
- I Will Definitely Protect You - "I will protect Iori-chan for my entire life!"
- Last-Minute Hookup - Teratani and Yuka
- Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone
- 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 that he does feel that way and is just confused, and she gets over him.)
- Love At First Sight - Ichitaka when he first saw Iori.
- Love Confession
- Love Hotels
- Love Hurts
- 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
- Love Triangle - Ichitaka with Iori and pick a girl who's 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 a la 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.
- In the end, Nami literally shoves Yuuka's face against Teratini's so they will kiss already.
- Mistaken for Cheating - Iori at one point is worried that Ichitaka is cheating on her with Aiko.
- Moment Killer - Ichitaka is like 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 16 year old Iori..
- Then again, with The Marrionette King during the final chapters, when it takes a 5-page divergence from romantic dramedy to channeling the soul of Hajime no Ippo when Ichitaka breaks said King's kneecap and probably jaw in order to save Iori.
- Nakama - Ichitaka, Iori, Teratani, Yuka, and Nami tend to hang and help each other out whenever they have free time.
- Koshinae soon becomes part of it as well.
- No Guy Wants to Be Chased - Izumi aggressively pursues Ichitaka. Itsuki to a lesser extent.
- Oblivious to Love - Ichitaka to Itsuki crush. Also, Ichitaka and Iori to each others' crushes.
- Panty Shot - Way too many to count.
- Please Put Some Clothes On - Ichitaka to Izumi.
- Put on a Bus - Itsuki.
- Rape as Drama - Iori is twice nearly raped.
- 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
- Second Love - Ichitaka had a crush on a girl in the 6th grade before he met Iori.
- Secret Relationship
- She Is Not My Girlfriend
- Shower Scene
- Snow Means Love
- 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 Koshinae for Seto in a very benign version. Seto even Lampshades it a couple times, thinking how Koshinae often suddenly appears "like a ninja" when Seto is upset, depressed and/or wishing he had someone to talk to.
- Status Quo Is God - for like 10 freakin manga volumes Ichitaka just can't spit it out that he loves Iori!.
- Straight Gay - Jun.
- Stood 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 part of her name is pronounced like the letter).
- 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.
- Tsundere - Itsuki, Izumi, and Nami.
- Twice Shy - Is is built on this trope.
- Unlucky Childhood Friend - Itsuki of course.
- Unwanted Harem - well, not always unwanted.
- Uke - Jun, in a milder sense.
- Weakness Turns Her On
- White-Haired Pretty Boy - Jun, subverted in that he turns out to be a close and loyal friend.
- Will They or Won't They?
- Wild Teen Party
- Yamato Nadeshiko - Iori has shades of this; a kind and polite japanese school girl. At one point she wore a very formal kimono.
- Zettai Ryouiki - And how; its part of the school uniform.