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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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04/02/2008 Archived Entry: "Yaoi review: Prince Charming 2"

Prince Charming 2
Story and art: Akemi Takaido
Published by the Juné Imprint of Digital Manga, Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-1-56970-752-4

Review by Cat

I was absolutely thrilled to receive the second volume of "Prince Charming" because I've thoroughly enjoyed the first volume (review here). Here's the back blurb of volume 2:

"The debauchery continues for Ashina-sensei as, despite having allowed Yuasa to move in with him, he begins to consider the idea of merging his new-found sexual appetites with his former wanton ways. Like the saying goes: you can'teach an old dog new tricks – and it could mean heartbreak for Yuasa. Meanwhile, Nagai confesses his true feelings, leaving Yuasa more confused than ever. Can he deal with the fact that the object of his affections wants to try a threesome? Or is a new love waiting for him just around the corner?

Twists and turns come unexpectedly as author Akemi Takaido explores the complicated nature of love, sex and desire. All bets are off on who ends up with who as the story unfolds, leading to next volume's satisfying conclusion!"

Yeah, right. As soon as I finished reading volume 2, I kicked a coffee table in a fit of frustration.

Whether that is a good thing or not, I have no idea. I just know Takaido has done a really good job with this volume and that I'd kill to get my mitts on volume 3, the last "Prince Charming" volume. Which is a good thing, I suppose.

I'm not sure how to review this without spoiling it for those who haven't read volume 1 yet. If you're one of those readers, please do not read on as I doubt I can hold back from chucking in a couple of spoilers. I promise it'll worth averting your eyes from this review if you will one day read volume 1. However if you're anything like me, you'll probably not be able to resist, so with this in mind, I'll try to be as vague with some certain details as possible.

As a reminder, volume 1 opens with school teacher Ashina surprised and annoyed when Yuasa, one of his students, has some photographic evidence of Ashina in a compromising position with an anonymous woman, made by a concealed camera at a love hotel. Yuasa offers to help him to track down the video tape. Ashina is aware that if this came out in the open, it'd be the end of his already shaky teaching career.

He frankly doesn't care about his career, but he, for reasons known to no one including himself, agrees to go along with Yuasa's madcap plan. He's also well aware that Yuasa has a not-so-innocent eye on him, but he's curious and apathetic enough to let the flow flow. However, before he's realised what was happening, Yuasa moves in with Ashina with his two best friends partly in tow.

That's the start of Ashina's struggle to adapt to his life that's turned upside down. Meanwhile Yuasa - with all his energies focused on getting Ashina to accept his feelings - gets knocked aside by his best friend Nagai's increasingly strange behaviour and possible love confession.

On top of that, Ashina is increasingly intrigued by Yuasa's best friend, Kagami, who doesn't shy from making clear he'd love to have some skinship with him. Kagami's sly digs and flirty comments start to plant an idea or two in Ashina's head, making him react in a way he doesn't expect.

All the things that start in volume 1 continues to deepen within volume 2. I have to admit that I didn't expect Takaido to pull it off because it$B!G(Bs so tangled that it$B!G(Bs easy to expect it all to fall apart. Surprisingly, it doesn$B!G(Bt. Well, it depends on what you look for, really.

If you expect a clean-cut, straightforward tale of two guys falling in love and their attempts to work through relationship problems, you won't get it from here. Even though it does somewhat revolve around two guys working through - well, in Takaido's style, anyway - relationship problems, mostly to define and re-define their idea of love and relationship.

Basically, the focus isn't on the main couple - Ashina and Yuasa - but on them with other guys. That's as in Yuasa and Nagai, and Ashina and Kagami. However, it's increasingly clear that, in spite of these developments, Ashina and mostly Yuasa have the intention to remain together. Somehow.

To be honest, it reminds me a bit of how it is in real life. The kind you get from a close-knitted circle of friends. This I suppose gives "Prince Charming" the feel of a soap opera, but without melodrama. It's a slice of life, if you like, but with dry humour and quirkiness added in the mix.

Volume 2 has a stronger dose of humour than volume 1, actually. As if to soften the angst aspect from Yuasa and Nagai's issues with each other and to remind us that "Prince Charming" is a romantic comedy, which it is.

Either way you just can't help but go along with the story. Unpredictability is the main theme of this volume, basically. So many twists and turns. I thought I have read enough Takaido stories to know what to expect, but all expectations I had left for "Prince Charming" after reading volume 1 were - there's no way to prettify this - chucked out of a window by volume 2.

I really can't quite say any more than this because it's basically a continuation from volume 1 to volume 3. Ashina is still mostly at his usual self - sarcastic, hard to read, and aloof, but he's becoming more honest with himself, which is a massive milestone for him. Yuasa is still a happy-go-lucky guy who goes after what he wants, even though he's blindsided by Nagai's unexpected revelation. Considering his personality it shouldn't be a surprise that he would make attempts to save his friendship with Nagai, but it's still a surprise.

Nagai - while still a guy who doesn't say anything more than that's needed to be said - is a little different this time. At times he's almost lost the control of his suppressed feelings for Nagai and the frustration that comes with it. To be honest, while I'm not that keen on him, I think he's the most interesting one of all in this volume because of his admittedly complicated friendship with Yuasa whom he's already having a casual but almost sexual relationship with.

And, of course, there's my favourite character: Kagami the shameless cad (and the main provider of comedic moments). He's still happy being seen as a guy with no morals, but it's becoming clear he's a hero in his own way, which fully confirms and justifies my like for him. I frankly can't wait how it'll turn out in the end for this cad.

I'm sorry if this review isn't so tidy, but I hope I haven't given out too many spoilers. I'm mainly happy that unlike some manga, the story as volume 2 doesn't sag. And that it's a trilogy because I don't think I could tolerate another wait between volumes. I truly look forward to reading volume 3.

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