Review by I-hsiu Lin
The Princess System. Guys dressing up as girls to bring up the morale of an all male school. It’s a system unique to this particular school. The three princesses have survived their freshmen year of jumping through various hoops that comes with their jobs and they are ready to step off their thrones. They have worked hard and deserved their peaceful years as normal students. However, they can’t rest yet because coming next is training the new princesses!
As soon as the story begins, we meet Tomoe Izumi and Kiriya Matsuoka who are accepting their new roles as princesses. Tohru, Yuujirou and Mikoto (ex-princesses from Princess Princess vol. 1-5) are training them. But princess training isn’t all they need to survive their year at their new jobs. Tomoe and Kiriya come from different backgrounds and their personalities don’t seem to mesh too well…of course, Kiriya will not accept that! Kiriya hopes to become Tomoe’s friend, but he just ends up rejecting him. Tomoe even quips, “I’ll be a ‘princess’ with you…but I won’t become your friend! Just a bit more then patience is needed to create friendships.
Tsuda Mikiyo writes a flawless sequel to her hilarious Princess Princess manga. The new main characters are interesting and individualistic. To characterize them simply, Tomoe and Kiriya are opposites in terms of social standing and personalities. However, Tomoe has reasons he is the way he is. Kiriya takes the initiative to reach out to him and is met with a brick wall. However, his persistence is admirable the friendship that is created even more special. In truth, even though this is about the introducing and training of the new princesses, Princess Princess Plus and the previous stories are also about relationships.
As a long time fan of this series, it is enjoyable to see the return of the main cast. I especially love Akira and his role as student council president…something he was clearly made for. Of course, I also love his interactions with vice president Mikata. Since their student council elections basically closed the previous series, there wasn’t that much room to go into their future interactions, so I enjoyed reading about the little things that occur between them here. Of course, as Tsuda mentions in her previous manga, since this is a ‘Tsuda Mikiyo’ series, there isn’t any boys love or yaoi in the story. But you can always find a few hints. *laughs* The continued teasing of Mikoto by Tohru and Yuujirou is also a hilarious read, especially with their unique comments during the princess trainings.
Tsuda has a distinctive drawing style that is similar to Eiki Eiki. (In truth, they work on many works together and are simply inseparable even in their individual series. Be prepared to see Eiki Eiki’s ‘appearance’ in the author’s comments.) The characters are clean, beautiful with a boyish charm. (For those that read the previous series, you’ll note that Yuujirou is sporting a short slightly shorter hair style. Only slightly since as the characters note, he is obsessed with his hair.) Concerning the story, it’s a refreshing read since the Princess Princess universe is a unique one even with much of the story taking place in school. The characters are satirical, funny and as mentioned before, the theme of relationships and how people interact has a major presence in the story. For those that have not been following the story, this book will still be enjoyable even without knowing everything in the previous volumes since the focus is on new characters. However, you might miss the humor in some of the convos between pre-established characters…like the ‘sexual harassment’ quip made by Tohru towards Mitaka.
Besides the extensive, behind-the-scenes, author’s comments/mini-comics at the end of the volume, there are ‘under-the-cover’ omake/extras that were found under the dustjackets in the Japanese versions. In previous Princess Princess series (under the June label,) there were dustjackets with these little surprises underneath. Under the Doki Doki label (and all manga currently under DMP,) there are no dustjackets. However, the omake can still be found after the author’s commentary. I was saddened by the new printing with no dustjackets since I felt they were DMP’s unique selling point in their books. The books are currently smaller and the covers are made of the same material as their novels: which is of harder and glossy paper. Although I’m disappointed at the change, I’m still very impressed with the translation, quality and am happy that they are able to reproduce the ‘under-the-cover’ extras in the manga themselves. (I just wish they kept Princess Princess Plus the same as the previous releases since they belonged together as a set…but I digress.) Those extras are found in practically all of Tsuda’s books and it’s something I look forward to. Under the cover is an alternate universe story, ‘Prince Prince’ with the main characters as girls in an all girls school needing to dress up as princes….
This is a light read and for certain, those following the Princess Princess series will want to pick this up. This story and art is in true Tsuda-style so for those that want a little intro to what exactly is her style can read this single volume to find out. If you wish to venture more into that world, you can read her other series with recurring characters in that universe in The Day of Revolution, Family Complex and of course, Princess Princess.