Monday, November 30, 2009

Princess Princess Plus by Mikiyo Tsuda review

Princess Princess Plus
Author/Artist: Mikiyo Tsuda

Publisher: Doki Doki

Rating: YA – ages 16 and up

Genre: Shojo, Comedy, Gender Bender, School Life

Grade: B

*** Review originally appeared at The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society at http://liheliso.org/. Check it out! ***

There is a somewhat strange tradition at the all-boys Fujimori Academy. Instead of having a more traditional style of mascot (you know something along the lines of Jaguars, Cougars, Spartans, Bees, etc.) they have the Princesses. A few of the prettiest boys are chosen to dress in drag and cheer on the various clubs on campus. Mikiyo Tsuda introduced us to the Princesses in her series Princess Princess and continues the concept in Princess Princess Plus.

Kiriya Matsuoka and Tomoe Izumi have been chosen to be this year’s Princesses. Both decide to take on the job but for various reasons. Being a Princess has a few perks but is also very hard work and the two new princesses will have to go through a crash course to learn the ins and outs of the job. And their new drill sergeants are none other than last year’s princesses Tohru Kouno, Yuujirou Shihoudani, and Mikoto Yutaka. Becoming a princess is hard work but Matsuoka and Izumi take it all in stride and work very hard together. But things change very quickly when Izumi invites himself over to Matsuoka’s house. Matsuoka and his siblings lost their parents when they were young and they live in a small apartment. Izumi on the other hand was born into a very rich family and wants for nothing, except a true friend. Izumi assumes that because he and Matsuoka are now princesses together the two should become close friends. But when Izumi tries to get to know Matsuoka better, his plan backfires and soon Matsuoka comes to despise Izumi. Things get so bad that even the previous princesses notice that something is wrong. Will Izumi and Matsuoka be able to set aside their differences and become friends, or will pride continue to get in the way?

Princess Princess Plus is one of the first books released by Digital Manga Publishing’s Doki Doki line. Doki Doki is a partnership with the Japanese publisher Shinshokan (in Japan Shinshokan publishes the manga magazines of Wings, a shojo mag, and Dear +, a boys love magazine). This line seems to focus on shojo and boys love titles aimed mainly at a young adult level (Juné and 801 Media titles are geared toward adult readers). For their first book Princess Princess Plus isn’t too bad of a choice.

Mikiyo Tsuda has created an entire universe that these characters inhabit. There are a couple of spin-offs that feature the Princess Princess characters (The Day of Revolution, Family Complex, and of course Princess Princess). The original Princess Princess series was published by DMP and contains five books (if you are interested in reading Ginger Mayerson’s review of this title click here). In the original series the story focuses mainly on the job of being a princess and stars Kouno, Shihoudani, and Yutaka. In Princess Princess Plus the princess responsibilities take a back seat to the personal story between Izumi and Matsuoka. Matsuoka has a huge complex because he lost his parents when he was young and his older brother works as a host to make ends meet. Izumi, on the other hand, is the only child born into a very wealthy family. Because of this wealth he is generally taken advantage of by his friends but he yearns to find a friend who will see him for him and not for the money his parents have. The point of this story is to watch the friendship between Matsuoka and Izumi blossom.

With this being one of Doki Doki’s first titles I was looking forward to how they were going to look production-wise. The books are the same size as 801 Media titles (sister company to Doki Doki) but have about the same quality and price point as a Juné title. Another nice feature is that instead of using a bar on the bottom of the book to brand it they used a nifty scroll pattern with the Doki Doki logo in the corner. One thing I did wonder about was how they were going to handle the under the cover comic. Mikiyo Tsuda is famous for throwing in a gag comic underneath the dust jacket. With this title there is no jacket but luckily it is printed at the end of the book.

Overall I did enjoy this title because the story focused on the interpersonal relationships between the characters whereas the original series seemed to be focused mainly on the princesses’ duties and costumes that they wore. The personal stories seemed to be secondary. It is assumed that you’ve already read the first five volumes of the original series so they figure that you know the basics of the story (like why they have princesses as mascots as opposed to anything else). This can be read as a stand alone title but it does make more sense if you’ve read the first series. It is also a one-shot because Tsuda-sensei mentions in her ending comments that she’s done all she can with it and it has been a very fulfilling project for her. This is one that Tsuda-sensei fans won’t want to miss. I will however make the comment that you may want to avoid this title if you don’t have a thing for cross-dressing in your manga. It can get tiring after a while. While I’m not a rabid Tsuda-sensei fan I found this to be a fun title that is a great distraction from everyday life!

For another point of view be sure to check out I-hsiu Lin’s review.

***Review Copy provided by Doki Doki***
***Reposted with permission from The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society***

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