Deep Love: The Story of Ayu, originally Deep Love 〜アユの物語〜 (Deep Love: Ayu no Monogatari) in Japanese, is a manga series (only 2 tankōbon or separate volumes published)written by Yoshi and illustrated by Yoshii Yuu. The volumes were published by Kodansha Comics in December 2002. Deep Love: Host (2 vols.), Deep Love: Reina no Unmei (1 vol.), and Deep Love: Pao Monogatari (2 vols.) are continuations of Ayu no Monogatari. The continuations are taken from the perspectives of Yoshiyuki, Reina, and Pao who were also characters from Ayu no Monogatari. In 2004, a 13 episode television drama series starring Iwasa Mayuko as Ayu, Furuya Keita as Yoshiyuki, and Tachibana Ayano as Reina by the same name is also based on the manga.
The manga tells the story of Ayu, a high school girl who moonlights as a prostitute. She has a grim view of the world which she views as filthy, hypocritical, and hedonistic, and has the misguided belief that money is the most important thing in the whole world, so she sleeps with men for money because she believes that's all they ever want. She lives with her gigolo-boyfriend, Kenji, who has a drug habit that eventually becomes a problem. Reina, her only school friend, is the only person who looks forward to seeing her at school. Ayu's outlook on life changes drastically when one day she encounters a kind old lady who attempts - and succeeds - in changing her outlook. She also finds a horribly abused dog named Pao, who follows her to the old woman's home. Both the old woman and Ayu decide they will take care of Pao, who even though he does not trust strangers, he takes an immediate liking to Ayu, the old woman, and later on Yoshiyuki.
Ayu's success is not without its series of setbacks. Ayu finds that even though the woman lives a rather humble life, she has 1.5 million yen that she is saving for her "son," Yoshiyuki's operation. Yoshiyuki was named after her husband and he was taken back by his father after it was discovered that he and his new wife could not conceive a child. The old woman has tried for years to save up for his operation but is short .5 million. When Ayu finds out that Kenji is trouble, she steals the 1.5 million yen. Ayu makes him promise to repay the money immediately.
After Kenji's death, Ayu returns to prostitution to make up for the money that Kenji had used. In the meantime, Ayu's friend, Reina, has begun to sell her body for money. It becomes tragic when one of Reina's clients commits suicide right after she leaves the motel room. Reina finds herself in more trouble when jealous classmates, led by Keiko, shanghai her at a karaoke bar where Keiko cuts the word "whore" on her leg and let some boys rape her while they are singing karaoke in the next room. When Ayu gets wind of this, she gets back at them in the worst possible way.
When the old lady passes away, Ayu decides to honor both the woman and the "son" by not selling her body for money. She meets both Yoshiyuki and his father after the grandmother dies. She graduates from school and she takes several part-time jobs. Ayu and Yoshiyuki also develop a friendship, though Yoshiyuki's father is rather strict only allowing him one hour out doors. They run away to Okinawa because that is where the old woman was from and she had always told Yoshiyuki that when troubles arise, just look at the blue sky. They do just that, but in the end Ayu ends up in prison. She released because Yoshiyuki would not press charges, insisting that it was his idea and Ayu just came along.
Ayu gives the father 2 million yen in hopes that it would help Yoshiyuki only to find out that the operation would cost 10 million yen instead. Even though she does not see Yoshiyuki, Ayu continues to raise money by all means possible. Towards the end of the manga, she finds out that the necklace that Yoshiyuki had given her had a partner. She bought that for him in hopes that somehow they would be together. The manga ends tragically, but not without a inkling of hope.
- Ayu (アユ?)
- A high school girl who has a bleak view of the modern world. To Ayu, this world is filthy and sex is just a tool that earns her money. She lives with her gigolo-boyfriend Kenji, who is a drug addict. One day, Ayu meets an elderly woman who she calls Granny. Granny is the exact opposite of Ayu - she sees more good in the world than evil. She plants a seed in a pot and tells Ayu that when it sprouts she will give her the plant. Ayu believes that such an outlook is fruitless and walks away. As the story progresses, Ayu's outlook of the world begins to change but not without a series of challenges and setbacks. One day, Ayu finds 1.5 million yen in Granny's drawer, which she is saving it for her "son" Yoshiyuki. Ayu "borrows" the money to help Kenji whose drug addiction has gotten the better of him. When Kenji dies, Ayu sells her body to earn the money back. She also finds out that her friend Reina is raped. An infuriated Ayu exacts revenge on the leader, Keiko. Ayu later reveals to Granny that she had taken the money for Yoshiyuki's surgery to help her boyfriend and he had wasted it. She also reveals that she is trying to earn it back by prostitution. Granny does not respond to this. After Granny's death, Ayu vows to earn the money back without selling her body. At this point, Ayu completely changes, her outlook is not as grim as it initially was, now that she feels that she has a purpose.
- Reina (レイナ?)
- A cheerful high school girl and adores Ayu. Reina is easily influenced. She gets introduced to the world of prostitution when she is with Ayu. When Reina's classmates. led by Keiko, find out that she is prostituting herself they take her wallet, write the word "whore" on her leg with a knife, and let some boys rape her. As she is being raped, the girls sing karaoke next door without a care in the world and feeling justified in their actions. This lands Reina in the hospital and those girls actions infuriate Ayu. Reina drops out of school after that incident, but remains close friends with Ayu. She finds out that she is pregnant as a result of the rape and decides to keep the child. She names her daughter Ayu after her friend. Deep Love: Reina no Unmei is a continuation of Deep Love: Ayu no Monogatari, it is told from Reina's perspective.
- An elderly woman who seems to have an unfailing faith and hope in the world in spite of her own tragic past. She is the exact opposite of Ayu- she believes that the world is not as filthy and horrible as Ayu believes it is. Granny is generous and forgiving, she takes Ayu and Pao in her home. Granny reveals that she had a "son" named Yoshiyuki, an abandoned boy with a heart condition. She had spent many years saving money for Yohsiyuki's surgery. She had only save 1.5 million, she needs 2 million to help him. Yoshiyuki's father takes him back when he realizes that he and his new wife could not have children. Granny tried to keep Yoshiyuki, but lost the case in court. Granny's actions, faith, and hope are the catalyst in the changes in Ayu's outlook.
- Yoshiyuki (義之?)
- A 17 year old boy born with a heart condition that Granny had taken in when his father had abandoned him. He is adopted by Granny only to be taken back by his father when he and his new wife could not conceive a child of their own. He does not seem to have any affection towards his father and step-mother. Both are very strict and only allow Yoshiyuki to stay out for an hour. He does not have any friends as a result. He is very close to Granny and is upset when he hears of her death. He and Ayu become close after Granny's death and meet at a bench near his home. He reveals to Ayu that he would like to see the Okinawan sky because of how Granny would tell him to look up at the sky when life becomes difficult. Ayu promises to take him there and she does take him to Okinawa. For a moment, Granny's words ring true. However, his father tracks them down with the help of the police and this results in Ayu being put in jail. Deep Love: Host is a continuation of Deep Love: Ayu no Monogatari is told from Yoshiyuki's perspective.
- Pao (パオ?)
- An abused puppy that Ayu finds in a box. He is nursed back to health by Ayu and Granny. Pao is protective of both Granny and Ayu and is an excellent messenger. He does not easily trust strangers, however, he takes an immediate liking to Yoshiyuki. Deep Love: Pao Monogatari is a side story that is told from Pao's perspective. The series is ongoing.