Asuka Izumi – CMX – 2010 – 2 volumes
As I’ve stated previously, the late lamented CMX had a habit of publishing short and fun all-ages titles for girls. Several of them were princess-themed, and are the types of books I would’ve eaten up in fifth grade. Even a crotchety old lady like me enjoyed titles like Lapis Lazuli Crown and A Tale of an Unknown Country, and I was hoping Lizard Prince would be more of the same. Sadly, Lizard Prince is a bit more formulaic than the other two titles I mentioned. Fifth graders would probably still eat it up, but there are other shoujo manga for those who have seen this type of thing before.
There’s nothing wrong with it, per se. It does exactly what it says on the box. Sienna and Canary continue to have little misadventures where Sienna accidentally turns into a lizard and he and Canary have to find some way around it. Most of the chapters in this book are meet the family-oriented, and we are introduced to Sienna’s parents, Canary’s brother, family challenge-type situations, and ending at a wedding where Sienna and Canary have to explain the lizard transformation to the while kingdom when the vengeful lizard spirit comes back with a vengeance. There’s even a chapter where the two of them help another troubled couple and get a proper engagement ceremony. It’s lots of fun, and I did like seeing strong-willed Canary stand up for both herself and the cowardly Sienna.
But the lizard transformation felt like it was being stretched a bit thin. Sienna “accidentally” transforms in the first three chapters (he supposedly has control over the transformation), and it feels more like it’s something that has to happen rather than an actual problem he’s having. It doesn’t really help that that’s the only bit of magic in the series, either, so while everything else is relatively nice and normal (in that Sienna and Canary are a prince and princess… you know), Sienna turns into a lizard at inopportune moments. The fourth chapter explains the transformations keep happening because the curse isn’t completely broken, but as this hadn’t been hinted at before, it felt a little tacked on. The stories themselves were also formulaic, as I mentioned. Sienna’s family has a rather ridiculous family trial where a ring “accidentally” falls on his finger and Canary has to get his memories back if she wants to marry him. Canary has an overprotective brother. And… well, of course Sienna was going to transform into a lizard in front of thousands of people at his wedding, but since that was the climax, I can’t really pick on that one.
If you know a little girl who likes manga, pick this up along with Lapis Lazuli Crown (also 2 volumes) and A Tale of an Unknown Country (three volumes). All of them are short, sweet, and quite good as far as manga aimed at a younger audience goes. But if you’re a shoujo fan, as I said before, the other two titles are probably worth your time, but if you’ve read those, you already know what this has to offer.
Asuka Izumi – CMX – 2009 – 2 volumes
I bought this immediately when CMX announced they were going out of business based purely on the fact I unashamedly loved the other all ages fantasy manga they released. Kiichi and the Magic Books was great, and I loved Lapis Lazuli Crown, Two Flowers for the Dragon, and Tales of an Unknown Country. The middle one is pushing the definition of “all ages,” but it is at the very least inoffensive, and the best of the bunch. So I had high hopes for Lizard Prince.
Basically, this is a collection of one-shot type stories about Princess Canary and Prince Sienna, two young people from royal families who have been engaged. Sienna has spent most of his life under a curse in place of his brother that forced him into the form of a lizard. This is resolved in the first story, but apparently, since he was a lizard for so long, Sienna has the ability to switch back and forth as the mood strikes him. Uh… right. So together, Sienna and Canary tackle a variety of cute story topics together. They watch over a child, investigate a haunted house, meet Canary’s lizard-hating mother, investigate an imposter Prince Sienna in Sienna’s kingdom… et cetera.
The stories are fairly low-impact, and there’s not much character development after the first couple chapters. The wimpy Sienna and bossy Canary never stop being entertaining, though, so it’s not really a problem. It did irk me that the relationship wasn’t really developing, and thus the plot of the series didn’t appear to be progressing. That was my main concern with the book. Because other than that… it’s cute, and inoffensive, but with no overarching plot it doesn’t have a whole lot to offer aside from that.
You know, I’ve been staring at the cover of this for over a year, and I didn’t realize the lizard was drawn in a cartoony style that doesn’t really match the rest of the series. It’s a little weird on the cover, and even in the context of the other art, but it was rather endearing the more I read of it. The art is otherwise fairly standard cute shoujo fare, with fairly middle of the road character designs and background detail, et cetera. The mangaka mentions in the back that it ran in a seasonal magazine, which might mean that this is a rookie effort. If so, it is quite a good first/early series, and I’d love to read a regular serialized story by this author.
This is entertaining as far as a quick, cute read goes, and I like it as a good manga to offer a younger audience. It also does fit nicely in with the other princess/royalty-themed all ages manga that CMX was releasing at the time. It’s not the worst or least interesting of those titles, but it’s definitely not quite as good as some of the better content they released in those categories. It might be worth seeking out for parents with younger manga readers, though. Or huge fans of shoujo fantasy, which I am. I don’t regret buying or reading it, but there’s definitely better books out there.