Gakuen Prince vol. 1
Author/Artist: Jun Yuzuki
Publisher: Del Rey
Rating: OT – ages 16 and up
Genre: Shojo, Comedy, Drama, School Life
*** Review originally appeared at The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society at http://liheliso.org/. Check it out! ***
Jyoshioka Private High School, a.k.a. as Jyoshi (or Joshi) High, was once an all girls school but within the last few years they've started admitting guys. The girls outnumber the guys like no other and so to try and keep things somewhat quiet, all of the guys are in S-class. Every girl in school wants to be in S-class, except Rise Okitsu. Rise's goal in life at Jyoshi High is to be invisible. It seems that she was bullied in her old school and wants to avoid it in her new school so to hide her stunning good looks she pulls her hair up in pigtails and wears clunky glasses.
Azusa Mizutani has recently enrolled at Jyoshi High not really caring that it was once an all girls high school. He seems indifferent to the whole thing. But little did he know that he would soon become the target of hormonally charged, sex crazed girls. After being chased around twice in one day, he runs into Rise who was hiding in a storage room. Rise is the only girl who doesn't seem to be at all interested in Azusa so Azusa tries to convince the wild throngs of girls that he and Rise are an item. Does it work or will the throngs of crazy girls take it out on Rise?
I'm going to be straight up honest with you, when I first read Gakuen Prince I was so unimpressed. I perused several reviews of this manga and they were all glowing. I just didn't get it. I do admit that I don't read a lot of shojo manga and when I do they are usually comedic stories and have girls with personality. But I've recently changed my opinion of Gakuen Prince after reading a manga that is the ultimate in soap opera and the one of the main female characters is a complete doormat (*cough* Nana *cough* *hack*). Gakuen Prince is smart, funny, and gorgeous. I am so glad that I gave it another chance.
Rise is hilarious. She wants to be invisible but at the same time she wants to be able to tell people how she really feels. So when she's caught in those situations she comes off looking awkward yet it is so funny. Mizutani is a clueless guy and doesn't really understand the consequences of his decision. It is a well-crafted story with beautiful art. Not only is it nice to look at and fun to read but it shows how cruel girls can be. Not only physically but also psychologically. Bullying is a real problem and when you are dealing with girls, you have no idea what you're getting yourself into. Luckily Rise shows an amazing strength and piece of mind to help Mizutani even though Mizutani doesn't realize what Rise is having to put up with.
You can expect some great manga reading when you read something from Del Rey. They are of pretty good quality and are easy to read and hold. They always leave the traditional honoriffics and even have a page explaining what they mean. At the end they have a section with translator notes to either give explanations on what they may have changed from the manga or notes on the Japanese words that they left in story. Sometimes they'll even give you a preview of the next volume in the traditional Japanese form. Del Rey is definitely one of the better manga publishers on the market.
If I had written this review when I first read this title it would have been very negative and I wouldn't have recommended it. Now that I have seen the light in regards to Gakuen Prince I can definitely recommend it. But I must warn you that it is Shojo with an edge had is thisclose to being smut. I would advise you that you'll probably want to follow the age recommendation of 16+ and it is shrink-wrapped which usually means there might be something you might find objectionable in it. But definitely give this manga a chance. It is truly a unique manga with great humor and is a bit edgy. It's worthy of your time.
***Review Copy provided by Del Rey***
***Reposted with permission from The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society***