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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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12/11/2007 Archived Entry: "Yaoi review: Prince Charming, volume 1"

Prince Charming, vol 1
Art and Story by Akemi Takaido
Published by the Juné Imprint of Digital Manga, Inc.

Review by Cat

What is love? High school teacher Asahina doesn't know nor care. Womanising, boozing, chain smoking, and playing truant on his own classes are the fuel of his life. But soon all that ceases to matter when one of his students, Yuasa, appears with a candid snapshot of an amateur sex video, supposedly filmed at a love hotel where Asahina and an anonymous woman had sex.

Asahina isn't happy. Even more so when he realises that while Yuasa seems to know where to find the discriminating video and is willing to help him to get it, he clearly wants to get in Asashina's trousers. It's bad enough that the school already isn't happy with Asahina, these photos will kill off his already shaky career and reputation. In spite of his cool misgivings, he accepts Yuasa's help. Mainly to see how will it go down.

Only if he had known what was to come...

"Prince Charming" is a romantic comedy that thrives on cynicism, sarcasm, dry humour and a kind of romance that doesn't at all pay attention to the usual yaoi rules.

On one hand we have this highly irresponsible teacher who's famed for being aloof with a tendency to make cutting remarks to anyone who's stupid enough to gets in his way. He doesn't give a toss about anything or anyone including himself. Even so, he's vaguely aware there's something missing from his life. Especially from his sex life, which rankles him a little. Still, he's never asked to be a good role model. Life is there for him to cruise on by.

On the other, we have a seventeen-year-old mature and quietly optimistic student who wants to win his aloof teacher's heart and he's willing to do anything to achieve that. That includes moving in with Asahina, which is slightly insane because Asahina isn't exactly a warm-hearted loving bunny. This doesn't deter Yuasa at all. He just goes after Asahina like an iceberg after the Titanic.

On top of that, Yuasa's two gay best friends � Kagami, a bespectacled die-hard flirt, and Nagai, a reputed stud - invite themselves to Asahina's life, much to his annoyance. As Asahina doggedly tries to continue his life the way it's been, these three boys keep messing with his head with comments and actions, forcing him to realise the cause of discord that plagues him almost all his life. What will he do with this newly found realisation?

Somehow Kagami the flirt, admittedly to his surprise, successfully catches Asahina's attention. Will he make a move on the object of his best friend's affection? Meanwhile, Yuasa learns two surprising secrets from Nagai and doesn't know how to handle it. How will this affect their friendship? More importantly, how will it affect his own mission to win Asahina over?

When each of these events occurred I became less and less sure Asahina and Yuasa would become a couple and I enjoyed this sensation of uncertainty, an element largely missing from yaoi manga these days. The fact that it has humour and great characterisations doesn't hurt, either.

In accordance with Takaido's trademark, the story doesn't revolve around Asahina and Yuasa alone as it also focuses on Yuasa's best friends, their interactions and a world they live in. It's as if it's a well-written soap opera for indie-loving twentysomethings, which suits me just fine.

I had wondered what it's about the cynic teacher that makes Yuasa fall for him so hard. It isn't mentioned throughout the story, but there's an extra at the end that reveals how it all started. I feel it should be incorporated with the main story, but this may go against Takaido's tendency of making her characters' backgrounds enigmatic.

The art style is clean cut, simplistic and easy on the eye. At times it seems sparse and clinical, but it fits in with the atmosphere of the story well. Takaido makes most of her characters' eyes and faces to convey subtle emotions, which is surprisingly done well because at times her characters come across like lifeless, stringy-haired dolls.

I tried to find a serious flaw with this manga, but I enjoyed it too much to bother. Well, the only thing I dislike about the English version is DMP's decision to leave original SFXs intact. They overcome the language barrier by adding an English translation next to each original SFX. I prefer to have these original SFXs entirely replaced with English translations. As a person who cares a lot about cover design, I'm happy to note that "Prince Charming" hasn't fallen victim to bad cover design that afflicts most DMP books.

In honesty I was more bothered by the fact that just as it got truly interesting, I reached the end. I look forward to volume two. Especially to see whether Asahina would ever lose his famed cool.

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