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Princess Princess Plus

Review

Princess Princess Plus

written and illustrated by Mikiyo Tsuda

Fujimori Academy is an elite institution for the education of young boys who may well grow up to be the movers and shakers of their respective fields. Unfortunately, in an all-male environment, the intense pressures of academic achievement come with little in the way of a social outlet…and so a peculiar institution was created: that of the “princesses.” The princesses are physically attractive first-year students who receive special perks for dressing up like pretty girls. For an entire year, they willingly become eye candy and morale boosters for the rest of the student body.

Well, it’s a new school year at Fujimori Academy; the last term’s reigning trio of princesses --- Kouno, Shihoudani and Yutaka, the protagonists of Mikiyo Tsuda’s series Princess Princess --- have stepped down from their proverbial thrones in order to usher in the next generation. Taking their places are Kiriya Matsuoka and Tomoe Izumi, who for disparate reasons of their own are both eager to don their skirts and get to work. Izumi, as it turns out, is a rich kid who wants to become a princess to make friends with his new classmates. Matsuoka, meanwhile, has endured the death of both parents. His older brother supports him and his little sister, and he wants to become a princess to take advantage of the perks. Needless to say, social class friction between the two “ladies” is in the offing.

This interpersonal conflict --- and, not unexpectedly, ultimate reconciliation --- between Izumi and Matsuoka gives the stand-alone volume Princess Princess Plus added affective heft. Although the other book was wildly popular, spawning many an illustrated cover of “Wings,” a televised anime adaptation, piles of merchandise and more, the focus was more upon the over-the-top spectacle of guys in frilly gowns. In contrast, this manga smartly shifts the focus away from the frilly gowns to the sometimes less attractive state of the characters’ inner emotional troubles. When combined with the usual litany of lowbrow humor and Tsuda’s confidently penned sequential art, Princess Princess Plus is fun at its finest.

Perhaps the biggest innovation, though, is Tsuda’s decision to draw the princesses as teenage girls when on-duty, complete with improbable curves and proportions. Because they appear in costume less frequently than their predecessors, it’s not very noticeable, but Tsuda discusses the creative decision at some length in an extended atogaki, which also reminisces about the creation of the Princess Princess anime and concludes that because this is really a fantasy story, fantasy proportions should be forgivable.

The focus of this manga is not the boys as fashion plates anyway. This is a character-driven piece, and the artwork, as well as the plot, attends to the boys during unguarded, off-duty moments. Tsuda’s skills in all respects are perfectly suited for this sort of work. Princess Princess Plus tells a story of two very different, yet very unhappy, young men finding solace in the friendship of each other. At bottom, it is a simple tale, yet its simplicity is perhaps what makes it so appealing.

Reviewed by Casey Brienza on October 18, 2011

Princess Princess Plus
written and illustrated by Mikiyo Tsuda

  • Publication Date: April 28, 2009
  • Genres: Manga
  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1569700907
  • ISBN-13: 9781569700907