Princess Ai

Rock and roll. Angels. Gangsters. And an amnesiac girl named Ai who sprouts wings and becomes the next pop sensation. This is the world of Princess Ai, a collaboration by Courtney Love and Stu Levy (writing as D. J. Milky). In some respects the story is based on Love’s own experiences fronting her own band Hole and as part of the whole maelstrom surrounding grunge-pop phenomenon Nirvana. But reality certainly didn’t play out quite like this.

The setting is not Seattle, but Tokyo. And Ai is not entirely what she seems: she looks human, but in reality she is half human and half “Dougen” — an alien species that resembles various beasts of human myth and legend including angels. As the story unfolds, Ai starts to remember things about her life before she found herself wandering the streets of Tokyo. She is aided by Kent, a young man of mixed American and Japanese heritage who is an aspiring musician, and by Nora, a Dougen from Ai’s own dimension who sent her to this world to protect her from a war between humans and Dougen in her own.

The distinctive character designs for the manga were done by Ai Yazawa, a top-tier manga-ka whose often fashion-oriented stories (NanaParadise Kiss) are blockbuster shojo hits. The manga itself was drawn by Misaho Kujiradou, a young talent who had the right goth-loli sensibilities.

A story that is set in the world of music and idol stars in Japan requires music of its own, and the Princess Ai manga is set apart by the fact that it actually has a soundtrack. Stu Levy (as D. J. Milky) wrote the lyrics and together with Ben Chan (as b_nCHANt_d) collaborated on the music. A series of music videos were produced for the songs, which are available on YouTube. “Broken Leash” features amazing anime created by top studio Satelight, and “Bleeding Heart” features costumes designed by goth brand Baby the Stars Shine Bright and lolita brand Angelic Pretty (featuring model/designer Maki-chan with a cameo in the video). Popular voice actress Tara Platt stars as Ai-chan, and Yuri Lowenthal makes a guest appearance as, of course, Van Von Hunter!

Graphic Novel