Crown Volume 2 by Shinji Wada and You Higuri
Jacket copy: Average, ordinary Mahiro has just discovered that she’s a princess — and heir to the kingdom of Regalia! Protected by her mercenary brother Ren and his best friend Jake, Mahiro feels safe for the first time in her life. Little does she know that her enemies have just hired the sexiest, deadliest assassin in the world…to seduce and destroy her brother Ren!
With the second volume of this series, I am loving it even more than the first due to the sheer amount of loopy insanity that Wada and Higuri provide. First, the cover features Mahiro and her maybe-he’s-her-brother-maybe-he-isn’t Ren on somebody’s wedding day. The manga opens with Mahiro opening the curtains in her brother’s bedroom and telling him to wake up. He blearily gets out of bed and heads to the shower. Mahiro leans over the naked woman Ren left behind in bed and cheerfully asks her how many pieces of toast she would like. Jake, Ren, and Mahiro then proceed to eat breakfast at a small table in the room while the naked woman cowers under the covers. Jake tells the nameless woman goodbye as he and Ren escort Mahiro to school.
At school, they notice Condor, the defeated assassin from the first volume. He appears to be homeless, hanging out, and stalking Mahiro. It turns out that Condor has become smitten after his initial meeting with Mahiro and the boys, and he’s observing the school while Jake and Ren are away. Ren decides to hire Condor as an additional bodyguard so he and Jake can concentrate on hunting down the goons sent by the false queen of Regalia. Condor is extremely socially awkward, spending a large amount of his time silently glaring at people. Mahiro views him as a lost little puppy. As the established trio adds a fourth person to the team the dynamic in the house shifts a bit. Jake and the Condor often find themselves bemused by Ren and Mahiro’s over the top displays of familial affection. Condor sees the siblings walk arm in arm and asks with a resigned look on his face “Is it…always like this?” and Jake clenches his fist in frustration and says “Yes! ALWAYS!”
One of the things I thought was hilarious about the first volume was the way Ren and Jake would frequently rip off their suits or tuxedos to reveal bulletproof vests and camouflage gear underneath. Sadly there was little clothes ripping in this volume, but they do swing from factory hooks while firing guns. The angst factor gets turned up a notch with the introduction of the cross-dressing assassin Angela who only loves diamonds. Ren recognizes his own damaged personality in Angela, but will Mahiro’s openness and acceptance win him over?