White Guardian Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Julie Rosato
Review Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Release Date: Sunday, October 01, 2006

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Duo Brand
Translated by:E. Vivienne
Adapted by:

What They Say
The Kingdom of Landa, once a proud country, is weakened by internal espionage and strife with its neighbors. In order to save the country, Linth Highwind Belc Landa IV, Crown Prince of Landa, returns to his country determined to bring about change. But missing from his plans is a man - the one man who had left behind the intrigue of the palace for the freedom of the sea.

General Sei - Landa's legendary hero - now guards Landa from his command post on a naval ship. Unknown to the General, among the new ensigns on board is a young Prince who is secretly plotting his return to shore! As fate has it, the opportunity comes when the General saves Linth during a fierce battle. Using his gratitude as an excuse, the Prince confronts the General about his absence from home - but suddenly finds himself at the General's mercy! How far will Linth go to bring Sei home? Can a battle-weary soldier become a guardian angel?

The Review
DramaQueen presents another good-looking release here. Their standard for great printing and quality extras like the dust jacket and color plates really make the grade. The original coverart is used for this book and features a protective General Sei hovering behind Prince Linth. The logo font has been changed but does the job as well as its original counterpart. Don't miss the character art on the inside flaps or the omake panels on the covers underneath the dust jacket!

The artwork in this book will probably appeal to many fans of the genre, as the characters are attractive but also mature enough to avoid being called bishounen. Prince Linth's youthful exuberance is fresh without being too cute, and Sei and Touri are prone to surprising sensuality. Faces have well-defined features and bodies have nice form and proportion, but the designs themselves are a little inconsistent at times and angles are not always favorable. The "action" in here is frequent and not at all shy, even, as some readers might wish to note, during a more brutal non-con scene. Backgrounds consist mostly of generous amounts of tone with the occasional uninspired but serviceable architecture or furniture thrown in for good measure. The lack of substantial background art is a flaw to me though, since it wastes the opportunity for detail that fantasy settings naturally provide. Art reproduction looks terrific, though, as is the norm for this publisher.

Text elements look good here. There are lots of SFX and asides, all of which are translated via overlay. Font usage is varied and the overlays are nicely integrated without compromising artwork. Occasional bits of odd punctuation aside, the script reads smoothly and is free from major errors.

Contents:(please note the following may contain spoilers)
Crown Prince Linth of the kingdom of Landa, having long been abroad, is sailing home disguised as a sailor on a ship under the command of his childhood idol, General Sei. At age 18 Linth is idealistic and proud, returning to his homeland in hopes of setting right the corruption and scandal that plague his father's reign. He hopes to enlist the help of the legendary General Sei, despite his having fled to the battlefield to escape the intrigues of the court.

Unfortunately, the general isn't quite as "noble" as Linth remembers. Still, he is sure that despite outwardly appearances, Sei's loyalty is true and that he'd be just the kind of person to help restore Landa. Before Linth can approach him on the subject however, the general uses him for a bit of after-battle-relaxation. That's rape to the rest of us. Seemingly unfazed, Linth manages to use the situation to win Sei to his cause, signing him on as head of his personal guard in return for forgiving the rape. Um...what? Well anyway, they seem pretty smitten with each other after all that and General Sei vows to forevermore protect his lord prince, cue smiles and tears.

Almost immediately upon their return however, Linth runs afoul of Touri, a noble and well-respected baron who is quite unhappy to see Sei in the prince's company. A former lover of Sei's, Touri's jealousy leads him to corner and brutally rape the prince as he wanders the castle alone. Once again, despite being terribly violated, Linth recognizes Touri's political strength and is determined to have it his disposal. Inviting the baron to his cause creates a romantic triangle that is supposed to be humorous, but is never really believable as a light-hearted situation. Not to mention that while Sei seems to prefer Linth, he is still somehow unable to firmly deny Touri's advances.

Eventually the story moves on to actually depict the seeds of political intrigue, rather than just allude to them. We find that Linth is more than just talk; he's willing to put himself on the line to root out corruption, but the result is a predictable kidnap-and-rescue scenario, complete with make-up sex. As far as the intrigue goes, this one incident is resolved so there is some closure to be found, but the door is left open for more.

While there is enough exposition to support arguments of a political intrigue story, this is really just a book for readers who like "acceptable" non-con scenes and dominating semes. Linth is a prince who wants to reform his country, even if it means instating officials who rape him pretty much on sight. Personally, I can't buy the honor there, or Linth's reasoning that it's "OK" because they are loyal to the country and their rapes merely a product of unrelated personal feelings. Duo Brand might drop in points of interest, flashback and intrigue to let us know there's some more at work behind these characters, but in the end it just doesn't seem like the point in reading this book. Rather, they're simply thin tendrils of plot used to hold together several scenes of the innocent, forward-minded prince being violated in turn, seduced, or begging for sex.

I won't lie; this book is hot if you're into those kinds of scenarios, but further exploring the fantasy-styled intrigue would, at the very least, justify the amount of build-up it was given, as well as make the story itself more interesting. Given the quasi-open ending, the chance could have been gifted to the sequel volume, Crimson Wind, however since that actually appears to be a flashback focused on the relationship between Sei and Touri, we may be waiting awhile for something beyond opportunities for hot sex.

Mania Grade: B-
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Released By: DramaQueen L.L.C
MSRP: 12.50
Pages: 185
ISBN: 1-933809-24-8
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left