By Leroy Douresseaux
Apr 2, 2009 - 20:07
Comedy/Drama; Rated “16+ Young Adult”
Digital Manga Publishing describes its new imprint “Doki Doki” as a bridge imprint that allows readers to move from shojo manga (comics for teen girls) to shounen-ai and yaoi. Shounen-ai and yaoi are sub-categories of boys’ love, a genre of manga that depicts love between two males, with shounen-ai generally being non-graphic in its depiction of sexuality and yaoi being explicit.
Princess Princess Plus by Mikiyo Tsuda is one of two debut titles in the Doki Doki line. Princess Princess Plus has characteristics of both shojo and boys’ love-shounen-ai manga, or perhaps, it’s a blending of both. The male cast can be described as being bishounen or “beautiful boys,” a term used to describe male characters that are androgynous or clearly feminized. So let’s call Princess Princess Plus bishounen manga.
The story takes place mostly at Fujimori Academy. Each year, the school gets new “princesses,” which are male students who dress as girls and cheer on athletic squads, warm hearts, keep up school spirit, etc. Basically, by appearing in drag, these already androgynous boys have “princess power,” the ability to smile, look pretty, and speak in a magical falsetto voice, and it all makes everyone in the school feel happier.
This new school year Fujimori welcomes two new princesses. The dark-haired Kiriya Matsuoka is uptight and responsible and lives alone with an older brother and younger sister, as their parents died some years prior. Blond Tomoe Izumi is the taller of the two. An only child of rich parents, Izumi is easy-going, generous, and child-like. While the two eagerly take on the job of dressing up as girls and cheering at school functions, Matsuoka and Izumi don’t seem to be friends, although Izumi tries to become close to Matsuoka, who gives him that old cold shoulder again and again.
Last year’s princesses: Tohru Kouno, Yuujirou Shihoudani, and Mikoto Yutaka are determined to make the two new princesses bond, lest students become aware of this clash of cultures and personalities. There could be massive repercussions!
I can only describe Princess Princess Plus as a delightful read. Plain and simple: I enjoyed the damn thing, and I’d like to see more. Manga-ka (creator) Mikiyo Tsuda uses the visual interplay of chibi and super-deformed with shojo manga graphic language to create bishounen manga that is amusing and (dare I say) charming. Without infringing on someone else’s trademark, I give it an enthusiastic “thumbs up.” Sometimes, the entire package seems a little too girlish, but Princess Princess Plus worked me.