Lovefool 03.19.12 | PvP (Princess vs. Princess)

It’s a royal rumble as the Harlequin manga bodice-ripper Princess of Convenience takes on a shojo manga on the "princesses" of an all-boys high school (Mikiyo Tsuda’s Princess Princess) in the latest Romance Roundup.

 

 
 
So let’s talk about this princess business. Princesses, of course, are perfect creatures, delicate and lovely and all that noise. In recent years, perhaps directly proportionate to the amount of princess stuff that I have to step over in order to purchase a nerf gun, I’ve started to think that was perfectly rubbish, this overwhelming pink pink PINK princess business, and, clearly, I’m not alone because Mouse Inc has recently been trying to pepper up their princesses with a little more oomph, a little less simper. Of course, I grew up watching those movies – Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid were quietly some of my favorite movies until I discovered Sailor Moon and started to rethink the whole princess thing. And it still sits uncomfortably in my mind. Why can’t more princesses be gutsy and a little clumsy?
 
To settle my mind a little, I’m going to dip into this whole princess thing with two titles, one a red-blooded romance of sorts with a marriage and the other a story with some dudes dressing up as princesses and no actual romance. So, umm, sorry about that. There might be some later, though, it looks like, but it seems unfair to pit the single volume Harlequin against five volumes of Princess Princess.
 
Princess of Convenience (Harlequin Manga)
Staff: Marion Lennox, Takako Hashimoto
Hero: Raoul Louis d’Apergenet, which is an actual name that made me laugh and clap like a seal, the Prince of Alp’Azuri, which also delighted me. Oh, man. This is awesome and we’re only seven pages in. He’s merely a prince, though, not the prince, and is there in a bit of a pickle. Due to some law, he’s supposed to marry a gold-digging distant cousin to save the country from falling into the hands of his cousin or uncle or something. It also turns out that, inspired by his sister, who was born with cerebral palsy and died due to complications, he’s actually a doctor. With Doctors Without Borders. No lie.
Heroine: Jessica Devlin, divorced Australian fashion designer, she’s in Raoul Louis’s tiny kingdom looking for fabrics. Getting over the death of her son and his father walking away from his illness and their marriage because it’s “too difficult” to deal with, she’s nearly killed by Sarah, the drunken princess-to-be driving a fast car in the wrong lane the day before her wedding. When she wakes up, Raoul Louis is there and then they hang out and have a slumber party with his nephew and, in the morning, get married to save the country. And everyone loves her, despite the fact that they’d never seen her before and she was involved in an accident that killed the woman who was actually supposed to be the princess. Ooookay.
Stars A-crossing: Raoul Louis and Jessica have well over the express line limit of issues between them, including about half a dozen dead relatives and that fake marriage. Truthfully, they’re pretty into each other from go, though. And then, two days after meeting, they’re all like “I looooove you.” and that’s that. There’s really not much drama to be had in this book, which is a shame. It seems like the only thing that could keep them apart is wanting to be near their family’s graces
_____ Will Keep Us Together: Baby Edouard, which doesn’t even look like a real name, and an ailing country. And the aforementioned love. They even end the book with a shot of them in a graveyard (!!!) where they’ve brought her son and his sister’s remains. Oh, good grief.
Frame or Fridge?: Oh, sweet Christ, that cover! Raoul Louis has quite a jaw on him. In fact, I’d go so far as to say our artist could probably use a figure drawing refresher. This got a little sloppy.
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: There’s really not much going on here. I mean, sure, there’s the plot to steal the country and make it suck some more and some stuff going on with llamas but…meh.
Hearts: <3 <3. One for the sheep and one for the side characters, such as Raoul Louis’ faithful butler and future stepdad. No lie. Otherwise, see above. Meh.
 
Princess Princess Vol 1 (DMP)
Staff: Mikiyo Tsuda
Hero(es): Kouno, who we first meet bitching about the “lack of freshness” in his all boys’ school corridor. I will say this week’s intros are pretty first class. He starts a school where they tap the three prettiest first years to be school princesses. The princesses are all around mascots, homecoming queens, and cheerleaders and are spoiled rotten by the school. There’s nothing sexual about being a princess, oddly, but it’s a little weird. Kouno, delighted by the perks of being a princess, jumps right in. The other two princesses, Mikoto and Shihoudani, represent the other two extremes – Shihoudani is utterly comfortable in his role and loves it and Mikoto, perhaps concerned about his girlfriend finding out, hates it.
Hero? Heroine?: Weellll, nothing develops yet. This is, much to my dismay, an intro book but, at the very last minute, a girl shows up looking for our hero. Kouno goes to meet her dressed in full maid-with-a-nurse-flavor regalia and she looks…a bit surprised. So we’ll see where that goes. I don’t know. I feel like this could go either way. The author tells us at the end that it’s not going to be yaoi but also teases some uncertainty about it.
Stars A-crossing: Without a romance in sight, there’s no real romantic tension but it’s certainly not boring. Mikoto’s seeming hatred of this job he accepted seems to fuel the story along at points, with Kouno and Shihoudani tugging him along. There’s also the worry about one of the lunatic boys in the school overstepping their boundaries.
_____ Will Keep Us Together: A good sense of distance and a heap of camaraderie. These boys are doing their very best Kate Middleton and, somehow, it manages to keep an entire school of fawning boys at a distance. The camaraderie, of course, keeps them all moving through a year of grueling schedules and weird situations.
Frame or Fridge?: Vast improvement. Everyone is very pretty in this book, the backgrounds are awesome, the gothic Lolita creations that the school’s sewing club president keeps putting them in are great.
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: The principal basically telling Kouno to stop thinking in terms of girls and boys and that he’s quite a looker is a little skeevy. Kouno breaking character to interact with the background and, therefore, us, is adorbs. There are a few moments like that where the characters break the fourth wall and it’s funny. The fact that there’s pretty much no way to avoid the job once you’re chosen is kind of sketchy but boys are compensated in various ways and are ultimately the ones to say yes or no to the job. So there’s some free will, kind of, it’s just tricky to exercise it. There’s some weird gender politics here but the princesses seem to own it, eventually, so it works.
Hearts: <3 <3 <3 <3. One for all the little yaoi jokes that keep the are-they-or-aren’t-they tension mounting, one for Natashou, the ridiculous head of the sewing club designing the Princess outfits, one for the way the leads work together, and one for the whole dang cute book.
 
It is completely absurd how much I love Princess Princess. I know it doesn’t quite fit the specs of Lovefool but I loved it anyway, so much that I’m going to read the rest to see if something turns up and I can give it a column, and that counts for something, right? My love for this book? It was certainly better than the Harlequin offering this week. Maybe I should just give up on Harlequins. They never win.
 
(As always, thanks to Digital Manga Publishing’s Yoko Tanigaki, official Friend of Lovefool.) | Erin Jameson

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