Crown of Love Vol. 1 (VIZ Media)

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The creator of Loveless revisits one of her earlier works with this new "director’s cut."

 

 

144 pgs. B&W; $9.99
(W/A: Yun Kouga)
 
You know, it’s pretty rare that a book leaves me so apathetic that I can’t really think of anything clever to say about it and I have to, much to my editor’s delight, just review the thing. Crown of Love is a retelling of a previously released manga by popular creator Yun Kouga about two teen idols (one established, one a rising star) and the tangled lives they lead. Troubled families? Check. Manipulative talent manager? Check. Plain-but-devoted classmate? Check. Beautiful-but-insecure star? Check. We could keep going, honestly, but why bother? Let’s accentuate the positive.

The positive is that Crown of Love does make the attempt to stand out from the pack by making a few twists in the formula. One family’s actually violent instead of disapproving, the established star is a Svengali’d girl, the rising male star is a complete stalker and there’s a child-like sidekick a la Speed Racer. Even with all that, it’s not really enough to keep me interested. Your mileage, as always, may vary. The story just seems a little stale to me since there really isn’t anything new here except the excessive parental beatings. Even the creepy-ish talent manager seems familiar to me. You know the drill—he represents the Big Entertainment Conglomerate, set on getting what they want from their stars by dangling romance in front of one of them and a chance to be normal in front of the other. Right. Got it.

This is, apparently, intended to be a longer retelling of the creator’s original two-volume manga Ren-ai (Love) and perhaps the pacing was suited for a smaller story since, initially, the storytelling struck me as a little flat. One scene trickles into to the next with very little buildup. When I found out this was a reboot, though, the seemingly-extra details that slow the book down made a little more sense. Maybe we should liken this to a director’s cut, where we all learn that, sometimes, a creator needs a little editing. Or maybe I really am just into silly plot devices and not semi-traumatic ones. However, on the other side of our Scales of Quality, the art was understated but expressive, the use of typical manga devices left to a minimum, with a few stunning pages thrown in to keep us going. I have no problems with the art and would definitely take a look at the creator’s other works, which include the popular Loveless series. Kouga is an excellent artist, knowing when to embellish and when to leave a panel stark.

The book is, rightfully so, labeled as fare for older teens. Due to the amount of violence and the darker themes of obsession, I’d say it would take someone a little older to really grasp the concepts in this tale. This book does deal with some semi-common themes of love—perhaps a little closer to the creepy Edward Cullen side of love—and show business, so I imagine it has an audience somewhere. Sadly, that audience isn’t me and I’m probably going to give future volumes a pass. But if you’re into less-sitcom, more soap-opera manga about fame, this is definitely a book for you. | Erin Jameson

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