My Only King (aka: Boku Dake no Ousama) Vol. #1 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Release Date: Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Translated by:Sachiko Sato
What They Say
In the land of magic, a new king is being crowned. However, a mishap during the ceremonial rite causes the royal crest to be accidentally attached to a normal human, Kazuomi. To protect the crest from any villains who may be after it, Mewt, the cute and brave sorcerer, is dispatched to the human world. There, Mewt must live disguised as a girl, and as "she" and Kazuomi live under one roof together, the two begin to find themselves attracted to each other...
There's probably a little something for everyone here, but you might want to flip through it first to be sure.
This title appears especially well-treated, even by DMP's standards. In addition to the usual nice touches, this book also includes color plates and the dust jacket has metallic silver accents all over to catch your eye. The cover features Kazuomi holding Mewt in a cute, affectionate way, but given the style of Lily Hoshino's art, one might not believe this is actually a Boys' Love title. The English logo mimics that of the original, using a similar font style and scheme. Inside the printing looks good, on par with the previous releases by this publisher. There is a short afterward by the author included at the end, and ads for other DMP "yaoi" titles close up the book.
To be honest I'm not a huge fan of Lily Hoshino's art, especially in collection titles such as this one. Her work can be pretty but it can also be inconsistent and a bit sloppy, and these particular flaws are most easily recognizable in collections. Regarding style, her "feminine" boys are often way too much so for my tastes and in the title work of this book, Mewt might as well be a girl and it just seems like cheating to me. Though lines are generally strong, there isn't much detail and backgrounds are essentially non-existent, pretty much relying on tonework to get the job done. While this isn't unusual for this type of book, character style alone just doesn't have the strength to carry most of the works here. A couple of the stories do look pretty good overall though, as long as you don't mind the character designs, and of course the reproduction by DMP looks good, too.
SFX are translated using a mixture of subtitles and overlay. For the most part the translations fit the panels well without hindering artwork, although there really aren't very many of them to begin with. There is also quite a bit of text in the panels outside of the speech bubbles, but the overlays avoid compromising the artwork pretty well. As with most DMP releases to date, honorifics have been translated to a point (using sir, miss, etc), and there is some odd usage of emphasis at times, but overall dialogue flows smoothly and consistently.
Contents:(please note the following contains spoilers)
An apprentice sorcerer named Mewt is sent to Japan from some unknown magical land after the coronation of said land's king goes awry. Why Japan? Well, because the crest of the king has appeared on a high school boy named Kazuomi there! Mewt is sent to protect the crest from evil and villainy until it can be properly restored, but somehow his awe of the crest begins to transfer to its bearer. Despite Kazuomi's promiscuous preferences for the girls in his class, Mewt's magical pheromones, er-- I mean his delightfully innocent and quirky personality (surely it's not because he looks like a girl) begins to entice Kazuomi.
Frankly, despite the narrative constantly trying to remind us he's male, everything about Mewt's appearance screams female, making it difficult to buy this as a BL story. Sensitive boys with long hair and a slight build are par for the course in Boys' Love, but his posture, mannerisms, reactions, even the girl's uniform Mewt must wear " well, there is just nothing "male" about him. But, it's a cute enough story; things get amusingly complicated when Mewt decides to attend school with Kazuomi, they fight and make up, and Kazuomi's dead-panning sister Makoto is priceless. One can only assume things would get really interesting once it's time to leave with the crest and the two would-be lovers must separate. Too bad the story never gets there.
Following the title work are four additional short stories, which, like the rest of Lily Hoshino's works, are pretty hit-or-miss with me. My favorite (and frankly, the best part of this whole book) is the first, a very simple and sweet short wherein a student dumped by his latest girlfriend follows the advice of his love horoscope and finds unlikely consolation in a male classmate. In two other very short stories a salaryman falls in love with the ghost of a young boy who has possessed his bathtub, and two boys (whose backstory is published in a different book) discuss their relationship. Wrapping up the book is a longer story about the triangular love-relationship between a seemingly-villainous king who sells children and two unwanted left-overs, a troublesome boy and an albino girl. (This last one in particular isn't to my taste as a reader.)
The title work starts out promising (if somewhat illogical) but would have benefited from more development. There's a beginning that is quick to capture the reader, a humorous (but largely wasted) middle, but no end and the story suffers for it. Had this story been given the reigns to run a few more chapters, I might feel more positively about it as I'm fairly certain its heart would be in its ending. As it is, however, there are funny moments, particularly in the over-zealous reactions of Mewt to Kazuomi's lewdness, but those scenes intended to be tender lack real feeling between the male leads, so instead the whole thing comes across like BL for BL's sake.
Not just in the title work, either; story length is problematic for most of the works in this book. They either never hit their stride properly, or once they do, the story is over. This is partly the trouble with shorts and collections in general, but Hoshino's story-telling here is not the strongest, either. This book is full of stereotypes, sometimes to the point of confliction; it's almost as though she can't decide how she wants her males to be, so she throws a bit of everything into them. As if that sort of clichéd approach wasn't challenging me enough, the notion of an adult with a younger partner has never really been my cup of tea, either, so I found limited enjoyment in this book. "My Only King" is entertaining enough, although I am completely unable to view it as BL, and "Twinkle Twinkle Horoscope" is really sweet, but they're likely to be the only parts I'll ever bother to revisit.
Mania Grade: B-
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: A+
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
Orientation: Right to Left