Mania Grade: B
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- Art Rating: B+
- Packaging Rating: B
- Text/Translatin Rating: B+
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Released By: Viz Media
- MSRP: 8.99
- Pages: 188
- ISBN: 1-4215-1172-X
- Size: B6
- Orientation: Right to Left
Backstage Prince Vol. #01
By Danielle Van Gorder
May 04, 2007
Release Date: March 06, 2007
Backstage Prince Vol.#01
© Viz Media
Translated by:Mai Ihara
Adapted by:Mai IharaWhat They Say
Drawn into the exciting world of kabuki theatre, young Akari spends her time after school assisting the internationally famous actor Shonosuke Ichimura. In the real world, however, this prince of kabuki is actually a high school cutie by the name of Ryusei Horiuchi.
Akari is totally clueless about kabuki - and boys - but she's eager to learn about both. Her first encounter with Ryusei doesn't go very well, but with the help of a cat named Mr. Ken, the two teenagers quickly become prince and princess of kabuki. Love was never so dramatic!The Review
Can an ordinary girl and a distinuished prince of Rien find happiness together?Packaging
Looking slightly different than most Shojo Beat releases, the cover has a full shot of Ryusei in formal wear with Mr. Ken on his shoulder. The title is vertical, with faint kanji characters in the background. It's much more striking than most of what Viz is currently releasing. The back cover has the standard Shojo Beat layout, but the general design and the flowers in the corners echo the front cover nicely. There's a cute picture of Akari in a kimono on the back as well. After the main story there is a short side story dealing with Ryusei's childhood, an afterward from the artist, and several one page ads for other Viz titles. The art reproduction is overall acceptable.Art
The first thing that really jumps out about the art in this are the giant sparkly eyes, especially on the female characters. They're the real focal point of the faces, as other features are somewhat simplistic, and facial expressions aren't always particularly convincing. Half and three-quarters shots of the characters look good, but on the few full-body shots the anatomy is also somewhat simplistic, when not covered by elaborate costumes. And some of them are very elaborate - the kabuki costumes especially are shown a lot of love. Despite the notable flaws, the artwork is very Text/SFX:
Sound effects are replaced by English equivalents, which for the most part look good. The translation flows well with no notable rough spots.Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Ryusei Horiuchi is a third year High School student with a bad attitude. But outside of school he's also internationally famous kabuki actor Shonosuke Ichimura. When Akari accidentally hits him with her heavy bag and leaves him with a serious bruise, she ends up agreeing to work as his assistant in the theater until he heals - despite the fact that she knows nothing about kabuki. She slowly gets to know him better, and discovers that his harsh exterior is just because he doesn't know how to deal with people.
As they spend more time together, Ryusei grows more attached to Akari, although he's not always particularly polished in the way he expresses it. But he is growing more exressive in general, which comes through even in his acting and dance. Akari in turn seems to really treasure her time with him, but wonders if she's really a burden to him. When she accidentally overhears some harsh comments directed at her and discovers that Ryusei's bruise has healed, she decides that her time as his assistant is over.
Even though she's decided this, she's unable to let go of the feelings that she's developed for him. She's dragged back to him by one of the other actors, which leads to an awkward yet touching scene where the two work out their real feelings for each other. But the path of love is never smooth, and Ryusei starts working in a TV drama, rumors start to fly that he's actually involved with his beautiful costar Miyuki Ogawa. Akari finds this hard to take - she doesn't get to see much of him while he's working, only a few minutes here and there in his dressing room. This really starts to take a toll on her, but when Miyuki ends up being an unexpected ally, she finds more confidence in herself, especially when she discovers how much Ryusei really relies on her.
The Rien, the world of kabuki actors treated almost like royalty who trace their lineage and connection to kabuki back for generations, however, isn't an easy place for an outsider. Naoki, a young actor trying to break into the Rien, takes an interest in Akari and offers to teach her essential skills for a kabuki actor's assistant, such as how to put on a kimono. But his interest isn't entirely academic, and Ryusei ends up getting jealous. This leads to another confrontation between the two, and another reconciliation. Comments
It's pretty clear that any kind of long-term relationship between the two is going to be difficult, and that they'll have quite a few challenges to face ahead. The constant round of misunderstanding, fight, then reconciliation is a little repetative, but not entirely unbelievable. It's kind of hard to not want to cheer for Akari and Ryusei and see them work everything out in the end. Still, as romances go, there's nothing really new here, and the characters aren't as well developed as they might have been. Akari especially feels a little flat - cheerful and relentlessly normal, prone to insecurity, but beyond that it feels like she acts more as a catalyst for Ryusei's growth as a character than one who stands on her own merits. Any characters beyond the two of them appear to exist only to create or repair conflict, and then gracefully bow off center stage.
While the setting makes this something a little bit different than your standard shoujo high school romance, what you ultimately have is something very familiar. Depending on how the story goes in the future, this could be a really fun book, or it could be something that makes you want to fling it across the room if it can't break out of the misunderstanding - make up - misunderstanding cycle that the first volume seemed to slide in to. Still, I'm looking forward to picking up the next volume, for what that's worth.