Saturday, June 13, 2009

Backstage Prince, vol. 2

The story: In this volume, which ends the series, Ryusei and Akari face challenges to their relationship from Ryusei's father, the paparazzi, another actor enamored of Akari and Ryusei's fangirls. Will their love survive the assault?

Reaction: Should two high schoolers be thinking about marriage? Because that's what sets up this volume -- the engagement between Ryusei and Akari. Ryusei's stubbornness comes to a head and he announces he has a fiance during a televised interview, so, of course, the celebrity media does its best to capture him and Akari together. This only leads to more hardships for the couple, especially when fellow actor, Naoki, declares he will "never give up" on trying to win Akari's heart.

Deep thoughts: In this volume, Ryusei and his rival, Naoki, pair up together with Naoki as the woman in a story of betrayal. In modern kabuki, most roles are still played by men, including those for female roles. Interestingly, kabuki actually started as an all-female endeavor.

Artwork: The characters are attractive and easy to distinguish from one another, and the kabuki and non-kabuki scenes illustrated equally well. At times, though, there seems to be a heavy-handed use of screentone and blushing faces, but that's to be expected from a shojo manga, especially ones involving high school girls.

The verdict: Meh. There wasn't anything too particularly exciting about the end to this series. Sure, Ryusei and Akari face some adversity, but they both make stupid decisions and Akari never seems to understand Naoki's motives. It's puerile and anti-climactic, and, outside of its kabuki setting, is fairly similar to every other stereotypical, high school romance, shojo manga out there. Backstage Prince is available in the U.S. from Viz.

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