Crown of Love Volume 1 by Yun Kuga
I haven’t read Kuga’s other series Loveless, but I gather from the covers it involves cat people. Lots and lots of cat people. Crown of Love is set in the world of show business, but I had a hard time getting into this manga initially. I’m glad I persisted past the first few confusing pages. Maybe it was a function of reading this right before bedtime, but I had a hard time figuring out who the main characters were because everyone was introduced so quickly. Yurie is worried about one of her classmates missing the train. Tajima is so handsome, smart, and popular he basically has a built-in fan club at his high school for the performing arts. A girl runs by, chased by paparazzi and a ten year old fan. She’s the popular teen idol Rima. Rima bumps into Tajima and a one-sided romance is born. Tajima decides that he’s in love with Rima. She doesn’t know that he exists. Rima’s former manager and current crush object decides to scout Tajima as the latest teen idol to join his agency. Tajima agrees because entering the world of show business is the only way he can get close to Rima. Poor Yurie is left on the sidelines as Tajima decides to pursue fame and Rima.
One of the things I liked about this manga was the gender swapping of the typical teen idol plot. Rima is the one who is more established in show business and Tajima has to try to catch up with her. She views him as a new rival and doesn’t appreciate his blase attitude towards becoming a teen idol. She yells at him “In this business everyone is your rival! You’ll never make it in the entertainment business thinking like that!” She’s in love with her former manager and doesn’t appreciate that all his time is going towards launching Tajima’s career. Both Tajima and Rima are dealing with less than perfect family lives, so it is easy to see how they might find the artificial family created by a show business agency a refuge. Having the focus of the manga be on the boy pursuing an unobtainable girl is a little different than the typical shoujo plot line. Kuga’s art is attractive, although sometimes the character designs seemed a little inconsistent. Some of the plot twists seemed a little sudden or forced. It seems from the author’s notes that this series is a reworking of an earlier two-volume series. Crown of Love is like Skip Beat’s angst filled second cousin once removed. I think I’ll pick up the second volume to see if some of the storytelling issues smooth out a bit, since I do enjoy show business manga.