Gakuen Prince Volume 1 by Jun Yuzuki
I usually find harem manga amusing when it doesn’t take itself seriously, but even though Gakuen Prince parodies the genre it does so in such a mean-spirited way that produced a very unsatisfying reading experience. Joshi High has only recently become a co-ed school. As a result, the few boys that attend are assigned to a special class. The girls in the school roam around like packs of dogs in heat, harassing any male target they can find.
Okitsu is a glasses-wearing non-entity at school that just wants to preserve her anonymity. She fails to speak up when she’s bullied, composing clever retorts in her mind. She just wants to be left in peace. Of course, when the new male student Mizutani starts school things become more complicated. He’s informed by one of his few male colleagues that his only options are to service as many girls as possible, appear totally unobtainable, or pledge his unending fidelity to only one girl.
As Mizutani runs away from the ravening female horde, he bursts into a room where Okitsu is hiding. He promptly decides to pretend that she’s his girlfriend, ripping off his shirt and messing up her clothes to make the scenario believable when he confronts the mob. Now Okitsu is the target of relentless bullying, and Mizutani doesn’t try to protect her until the other boys tell him to.
The situations in this manga are so over the top, it functions as a parody of the reverse harem genre. Yuzuki frequently draws characters with their faces distorted by their violent emotions, and ugly is a general theme in Gakuen Prince. There isn’t much about the manga that is funny or light-hearted, especially since there’s so much attempted sexual assault going on. The girls are all crazed bitches in heat who appear to be armed with a disturbingly large collection of sex toys, and the guys make hopeless attempts to protect their virtue.
The heavy-handedness is extended to the character development. I might have enjoyed this manga more if the main characters were more interesting, but Okitsu isn’t much beyond the stock “plain but secretly beautiful girl who seems quiet but actually has a horrible temper” that I’ve encountered many times before. Mizutani is frustratingly slow on the uptake about dealing with the effect his actions have on Okitsu, and most of his attempts to make things better only provoke worse retaliation. Overall, this manga was just depressing, although I suppose if someone found sexual harassment amusing the parody aspects of the book might be funny.