January 9, 2008
Well. The conclusion was very dramatic, but I didn’t wind up liking the way the events turned out… which is probably because a similar duck-and-run approach was taken by the main characters in Real/Fake Princess, which I finished just before reading this.
The main couple is shown living happily ever after. What sort of creeped me out is that… I thought Nicole was supposed to be in his teens, maybe late teens, at the beginning of the series. He was the youngest prince of his kingdom, but he just looked a lot like a girl. The past couple volumes, he has been drawn to really, REALLY look like a little kid. A little kid should not be in his position, though. Especially with the happy ending.
Equal time is spent wrapping up all the loose ends and love affairs between the various side characters. I was kind of disappointed that less time was spent on the main couple, since that’s who I cared about, but there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with the other couples. The stories all kind of ended the way you would expect them to though, which was boring.
There was an epilogue dealing with Derek’s son and his lover. Apparently… yeah. Let me not go into that, but I was a little put off. Because of the age of the lover. The last sentence of the epilogue, the last sentence of the series, just kind of turns everything that happened around in a weird way that almost leaves things up in the air as to how everyone reacted to the event. It’s almost like leaving the door open for a sequel, but I don’t know.
In the end, I really did not like this series. It had its moments, but it was confusing and frustratingly difficult to follow. A lot of other people seem to like it though, so take that as you will.
January 9, 2008
After reading Real/Fake Princess, I felt like rounding up and reading any other stray volumes of princess manga I had lying around.
This series is IMPOSSIBLE to read if you haven’t picked it up in awhile. The main problem, as I’ve probably mentioned before, is the lack of ways to tell the characters apart. I also can’t consistently remember any more than the two main character’s names. This series would benefit incredibly well from a page with characters faces, names and explanations in the front of the book.
Aside from the fact I could not tell the other Prince’s wife and lover apart (the lover is shown more frequently, but there was a scene I read about five times where the wife is watching the lover from afar which I gave up on, then figured out halfway through the last volume), I actually kind of liked the way the plot moved in this volume. The price poisons Nicole and blackmails Jed into basically totally giving the kingdom over to him. He wants Jed executed, and gives him the option to go down by himself or to let Nicole live. Jed tries to do the right thing… but things wind up very complicated. An interesting conversation with the king takes place at the end of the volume that turn things around even more.
There’s a short story at the end of the volume which may feature Jed and another boy in some sort of modern setting. Basically they’re having a kissing/stealing articles of clothes contest… you know, a tease. The first half is in this volume, the second half is in the final volume.
July 16, 2007
Two more volumes of this series, but this one’s harsh, it leaves off at a bit of a… killer cliffhanger. Hahaha, it’s killer, you see, because… yeah.
Anyway, the plot pace definitely picks up quite a bit here. The story focus is on who the heir to Jed’s kingdom will be, what some of the politics involved with that are, and some politics in Nichole’s kingdom with his two brothers as well. Someone tries to force their hand in marriage for an alliance between the two kingdoms, and the two counter with a rather drastic proposal that would tie their kingdom not only to that ally, but to Jed’s kingdom yet again. I’m sure you can work out how.
It’s implied that Jed will divorce Nicole soon, though the lover connection has become much more apparent. This is wonderful, because up to this point Nicole and Jed’s romance hasn’t been particularly… solid. Now we know where it stands, and it stands in a wonderfully happy place. It’s a bit weird that it moved all the sudden in this direction, but to be fair, Jed has been hinting at his feelings all along. I’m very glad it finally got to this point.
The end though… it’s a killer. Now that all the explanation is out of the way, maybe the last couple volumes will be smooth sailing plot-wise. I can maybe enjoy what’s going on without having to try and puzzle through as I have been. That’ll be nice, because I do enjoy this series in theory. It’s just sometimes (extremely) hard to follow.
June 17, 2007
Hey, didn’t I just read volume 5? It usually takes me forever to get ahold of Netcomics books once they come out, but this one arrived fairly quickly for a change. EDIT: oh wait, volume 7 came out this month. Guess I’m not caught up.
Even having just read volume 5 two weeks ago, it took me a LONG time to figure out that this book started off in a flashback. We can blame this mostly on the fact that every single goddamn character looks the same. After a tearful fit of reading and rereading the first ten pages trying to figure out what the hell was going on, I remembered that this was supposed to be Jed’s mother and the herbalists. There’s a… weird thing about the herbalist tribe that feels like it was kind of tacked on for no reason, but it helps make more sense of the insanely vague sexuality of those characters. Well, not even sense, really. But it justifies it in the story at least.
Hmm… what went on here? Most of the first part of the book was the explanation for the Herbalists and some background about the drama going on in Jed’s kingdom. We get some doubt as to whether the relationship between Nicole and Jed will keep going, and we get a possible union between Jed’s sister and Nicole’s brother. A… political union, I think.
The thing about the relationship between Nicole and Jed being in doubt was a theme throughout the volume, and it was kind of a silly one to persue since… well, you can’t possibly shed any reasonable doubt on the main character’s relationship. They won’t break up. That’s just the way it works.
This series is just pretty mediocre, and you have to have a lot of patience with it since, as I mentioned, all the characters look the same, and this coupled with the fact that they are often in disguise makes the vague and sometimes not-well-explained plot extremely hard to follow. Well… the main plot of the series IS kind of cool, and I respect that it’s trying to have all these awesome things going on, but it’s just not piecing together that well.
April 3, 2007
It’s REALLY hard to tell the characters apart. I don’t know the difference between Nicole’s brothers, I don’t know the difference between the brother from the other kingdom and the apothecary, so it’s insane when the scenes switch around and you need some time to figure out who’s talking about what. I’m still not entirely sure of the crown prince/royalty situation over in Jed’s kingdom, and what the deadly conflict is over there, either.
I’m glad some time is being spent on the relationship between Jed and Nicole, though. With all the hints that are being dropped… really, I can’t deal with a bunch of similar characters talking about other things if there’s no hint that the main couple isn’t going anywhere at all. It was kind of frustrating how they kept missing each other. I’m kinda surprised that I’m this drawn into them, because the characters really aren’t all that well-developed, but for some reason the relationship is really compelling. I don’t know how that works.
I would say that the plot wasn’t advanced that much this time around, except it ended on such a huge cliffhanger that I’m considering going to Netcomics and reading the next volume… except then I’d feel bad buying it. So I must wait.
January 21, 2007
So I decided to have a little shounen ai weekend apparently, even though I’m no big fan of the genre. Well, really, just a shounen ai day. Which includes probably only this and the post after this one.
Things seem to be going strong in this volume, though the plot moved less speedily here. Another switch is made between Nicole and Elena, because of course we can’t have the main couple separated for the duration of the series. Much teasing by Jed’s older brother occurrs, both to Nicole and the Apothecary. More was revealed about Derek and said Apothecary’s relationship, though mostly there just seems to be a lot of abuse and domination. Something else was hinted at too, I think, but there were a few things I didn’t quite understand, perhaps due to the androgyny of the characters.
Jed’s thoughts are still occasionally available to us, which is kind of weird, but it’s nice to see both sides of the relationship. Nothing terribly juicy happens this time around though, which is sad.
Someone finally asked Elena how it is that she can be so selfish, but of course no response is given. Mysteries will continue.
I still like it a lot. I think the next volume comes out in a few weeks, though Netcomics has released everything pretty much to the end on their site already. I hate reading manga on my computer, and I don’t like the series enough to pay twice for it (I’d still buy the graphic novels, and I don’t think I’d read them a second time), so I’ll wait for awhile.
January 21, 2007
I’ve heard more than one person complain about the character designs in this series looking too similar to follow, so I thought I was going to have trouble getting back into it. Not so, as I wound up liking this volume quite a bit.
It’s definitely moved into shounen ai manga territory now, with nothing from Nicole except thoughts of Jed, and surprisingly, the mangaka even taps into Jed’s thoughts to get his opinions on Nicole when previously Jed had been kept at a kind of distance as a mysterious, cold character. Their relationship is stormy and quite enjoyable to follow at this point, as they’re separated and much of the volume involves the aftermath of Nicole trying to sneak into Jed’s camp for a peek.
There are plenty other relationships in this volume, most are forbidden of course. I couldn’t quite remember what was going on with Nicole’s two brothers, but one of them is engaged in conversation with a widow at the beginning who reprimands him quite sharply. Their sister Elana is of course living with Jed right now, but finds out something about her lover and her’s past relationship, and unbeknownst to her, her lover also shows up. Hm. Jed’s brother Derek is also in some sort of relationship with a male apothecary who doesn’t seem to like him very much.
There’s also some subplot that I could remember nothing about having to do with Derek and the Queen (?) trying to take Jed out of power (?). I don’t know. I remember vaguely some trouble with it before, and it was brought up in passing at the end of the volume.
But yes, the characters look exactly the goddamn same. The plot’s still pretty good at this point, though, and I can tell them apart by who they’re talking to, so I’ll keep going until this hampers my enjoyment of the series too much.