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?
The Wallflower Volumes 1 and 2 by Tomoko Hayakawa (amazon)
Recently I’ve started going back and rereading some series that I thought I should give another try. I was able to swap for the first couple volumes of The Wallflower (thank you Mangatude) and I was glad to revisit this reverse harem comedy manga. I’d read a few volumes of The Wallflower a couple years ago, but I didn’t end up collecting the series.
A quartet of beautiful boys live in the same rooming house. Their frivolous absentee landlady has promised them free rent if they manage to turn her niece Sunako into a proper young lady. Their leader is Kyohei. He’s accompanied by Ranmaru (the ladies’ man), the Yukinojo (the cute one), and Takenaga (the studious one). They agree to take the task on, but when Sunako arrives they see that they will have to work much harder for their free rent than they expected. Sunako was called ugly by a boy she had a crush on many years ago and as a result she has turned herself into a hermit whose main forms of entertainment are watching Italian horror movies and talking to an anatomical model named Hiroshi. She hides her face behind a curtain of bangs, and is frightened of interacting with anything good-looking. Sunako calls her new roommates “Creatures of the Light” and thinks she’s going to melt if she comes into close contact with them.
As the first volume progresses Kyohei becomes a little more protective of Sunako, although he might be motivated by her excellent cooking. Kyohei is so sick of all the attention focused on his looks, it is easy to see why he might like hanging out with a girl like Sunako who seems to find him repulsive. The plot elements in both volumes aren’t very surprising – there’s a school festival to prepare for, a visit to a hot springs, and Sunako is possessed by a vengeful spirit. The Wallflower still manages to provide an interesting twist on the reverse harem genre for those who like plenty of macabre humor. I’ll be interested to find out if Sunako is actually turned into a proper lady by the end of the series, or if she manages to retain her dark and somewhat psychologically damaged personality.
The art is attractive although the character designs for the boys are a little interchangeable. I enjoyed seeing all the details in Sunako’s gothic lair of a room. Sunako is frequently drawn in super deformed mode and her interactions with Kyohei leave her with gushing nosebleeds. At 19 volumes this is a fairly long series. I’m not going to run out and purchase every volume, but I’ll definitely be trying to check it out from the library.
Love Master A by Kyouko Hashimoto (amazon)
When a manga opens with a young girl vowing that she’ll experience a normal high school life after the trauma of middle school, you know that the high school she’ll be attending will be the opposite of the quiet and conventional haven that she seeks. In Love Master A, Aria has received the unfortunate nickname of “Love Master” due to her extreme ineptitude at romance. She’s confessed her feelings to 50 guys and been rejected each time, so she has forsaken love. Aria hopes that her new high school will be normal, but the instant she arrives she’s pulled out of class and told that she’s the new student council president.
She’s immediately thrown into a reverse harem situation. Her companions on the student council are Jin, a dim but good looking and sporty health and safety coordinator, a cross-dressing female-hating girl secretary named Mizuki, the conniving near-sighted treasurer Kurusu, and the strong and silent vice president Chikayasu. Aria resists joining the student council because being surrounded by cute guys isn’t good for her “closed-off heart”. But eventually she relents and finds out that news of her nickname has proceeded her. Students at her new school don’t realize that the “Love Master” title was ironic, and they start seeking out Aria for advice on their romance problems. Aria’s new student council buddies help her out as she begins to function as an unqualified high school matchmaker.
There isn’t anything new about the characters or storyline of Love Master A. Aria begins to fall for the attractive and energetic Jin and at one point everyone gets horribly lost in a snowstorm, a fate that seems to befall 2 out of 3 shoujo heroines and their male companions.
I think I prefer my shoujo reverse harem stories to have a certain amount of satire that isn’t present in this manga. My Heavenly Hockey Club and Ouran High School Host Club are superior examples of this subgenre. That being said, the art is attractive and there are a few funny bits in the book. This falls into the category of a manga I might check out from the library as opposed to collecting every volume.