Monday, August 11, 2014

Manga Review: Backstage Prince (Kanoko Sakurakoji)

Backstage Prince, Vol. 1 (Backstage Prince, #1)
Backstage Prince, Vol. 2 (Backstage Prince, #2)
Title: Backstage Prince
Japanese Title: Kiwametsuke - Gakuya Ura Ōji
Author: Kanoko Sakurakoji
Volume(s) Reviewed: 1 & 2 (complete series)
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat)
Release Date: March & June 2007
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rated: Teen (minor sensuality)
Format Read: Paperbacks (purchased)
Find It On: Goodreads


Akari is an average high school girl who fails to see why the other girls in her school are so interested in Ryusei, a young, talented actor also attending their school. But after accidentally injuring Ryusei and discovering his other life as Shonosuke Ichimura, the internationally famous kabuki actor, she volunteers to become Ryusei's assistant until he is healed. The reclusive and socially inept Ryusei accepts only because she gets along with his pet cat, but when Ryusei is finally better, Akari realizes she has fallen in love with him - and Ryusei reciprocates.

However, their relationship is put to the test by Ryusei's profession, popularity, and those who disapprove of their relationship, especially Ryusei's strict father and Naoki, another kabuki actor who loves Akari. Will their love be able to withstand the many obstacles they face?

*          *          *

Why I Read It: I followed the series when it was serialized in the Shojo Beat magazines years ago, and when it came to my attention again this year I couldn't help but purchase the volumes for my collection.

Story: Since there are only two volumes, it's a simple plot - average girl falls for and is loved by famous, unsocial boy, but the prestigious family and public do not approve and cause uncertainty and angst for the relationship at every turn. Each of the seven chapters encompasses a story of resistance and perseverance of their love - after much drama, of course. While a common storyline, setting it in the world of kabuki added an original flavor, although we really only skim the surface on the subject as our viewpoint character Akari doesn't understand any of kabuki and tends to fall asleep during performances. Ah well.

Characters: Akari was highly insecure both about herself and her relationship with Ryusei, and it could get a little annoying at times. As I said before though, it was necessary for the drama, and thankfully it didn't last long. She was otherwise very strong and very good for Ryusei, and even though everyone else seemed to think she wouldn't fit in with the kabuki world, she totally did.

Ryusei was needy and possessive, which is apparently how Sakurakouji-sama likes her boys (see also Kyo from her award-winning Black Bird series). It worked well with this story though, and insecure Akari found it amusing instead of smothering so everything worked out. His antisocial personality made for an interesting twist, and I wish we could've delved a little into the reason behind it.

Romantic Relationship: While an absurdly immediate case of instalove, one has to take into account that it is only a 2-volume series. The "I love you"s had to be exchanged almost immediately so the drama could get to pulling them apart. Akari's insecurity and Ryusei's neediness were a little on the extreme side, but hers moved the drama and his the resolution so it worked.

Art & Setting: The characters have soft features and are on the pretty side of beautiful, which makes them more realistic and relatable. The backgrounds are mostly simple backdrops with the occasional detailed shots that are quite impressive and almost feel more like photos. It definitely had the feeling of a play that the story was going for.

Conclusion: A short, quick and sweet story that I enjoyed in the Shojo Beat magazines and shall continue to enjoy in the volumes.

Read It Again?: Many times more

For Fans Of: Sakurakouji's other series, Black Bird

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