Direction: Right to Left
by Mikiyo Tsuda
Publisher: DMP & DokiDoki Books
Genre: Comedy, Shojo, Cross-Dressing
Why has Kouno received such an overly warm welcome at his new all boys school?!? Little does Tohru know about the secret Hime (Princess) system in effect at the school. At events, boys are chosen to dress up as girls to provide a touch of femininity in the sea of testosterone. By the time Kouno finally catches on, he discovers he’s been chosen as the newest cross-dressing candidate! Lured by the “benefits” of being a princess, Kouno takes on the job with two other recruits, Mikoto and Shihoudani – and the chaos begins!
Kouno Toru, our lead hero (or is that heroine lol) is well developed as a character. He has a strong personality which comes through straight away. His determination and desire to save money does initially make him seem greedy. I liked the way we get hints into a darker secret. His character design is okay, but I wasn’t happy with it, it felt a bit wrong to me. The designs however come into their own when he’s in drag as a princess, at which point he looks hot.
Yuujiro Shihoudani is the only character that doesn’t seem to have any issues with cross-dressing. He’s got a very forceful personality and loves to tease Mikoto, the reason for which is revealed as a bit of envy over the way Mikoto was raised. Like Toru he has a secret, though unlike Toru’s his isn’t as dangerous or dark. I loved his character designs both in and out of drag, it fits him perfectly.
Yutaka Mikoto is the most out spoken, animated, and hating the whole cross dressing of the three. He tries to come across as a macho guy, but always ends up as being the most girly of the three. The way he acts around the school is a source of a lot of amusement in this series, made all the more funny when his girl friend comes to visit. I’m not really sure about his design though, something about the way he looks both as a princess and normally just doesn’t sit right with me.
Sakamoto Akira is a bit dense to a lot of things that happen around him. He’s quietly forceful and is the reverse of the current student president Arisada. He’s friendly, but mildly introverted. We learn as to why he is the way he is early in the series when we get to learn more about his family. I like his character design, which fits his personality perfectly. He’s, for the most part, a friend of Toru and Yuujiro, quietly offering advice and guidance.
Arisada Shuya is the character I hated the most in the series. While he plays a pivotal role, I found his overly aggressive, overly confident, in your face attitude annoying. It’s true that his personality was needed to drive certain parts of the story, but I just couldn’t like him. Thankfully he isn’t a main character, and only pops up now and again. Any more than what he was would have smothered the series.
I both liked and hated this series. It started off great, establishing the trio of characters, hinting at darker pasts, and flowing well.
Toru transferring schools was handled really well, and the way he initially tries to avoid joining the Princess’ was done really well. I also liked how he was won over, literally by bribing him.
Toru and Yuujiro are excellently developed characters that have great chemistry between them. Their relationship has a genuine friendship feel that caries on throughout the series. the relationship becomes the basis for helping both of them overcome their pasts.
Art wise I tended to drift between liking and disliking. Initially I didn’t like Toru’s art, but over the course of the series he really grew on me. However where he really came into his own was when he was cross-dressing. Mikiyo drew some stunning designs that frankly made me do a double take. I had to keep reminding myself that Toru was a guy, cause frankly I thought he looked pretty damn cute at times.
Yuujiro was the same, though I found his general art more appealing that Toru’s. Similarly when he’s cross-dressing I found the art was exceptional. Though I found him more ‘imposing’ than cute. He’s always telling Mikoto to be a Queen, and that’s how he comes across when he’s cross-dressing.
Their relationship with Akira was another aspect I found I liked, though it was more funny. I couldn’t help but laugh when they (Toru and Yuu) went to his house for a visit and they met his family. I have to admit I think getting a complex about the way you look would be normal in that family hehe.
Sadly, this is also where the series falls down a bit. Mikoto. The way he’s handled is a bit of a let down, since frankly he feels more like a support character. Sure he does add some excellent comic relief to the series, and I will admit to chuckling. However this was supposed to be a story about the three of them, and I couldn’t help but feel he was always outside. This became more evident later on when the Student Elections are on going.
The only time it feels he’s a real part of the story is during the cultural fare, when his girlfriend and sister come to visit. I felt that aspect was really well done, though a bit short. thankfully Mikiyo expands on it in an ‘extra’ chapter.
The other bit I found lacking was Toru’s dark past. When it comes to light and starts to have an influence on the story I found it wasn’t handled well. Initially it felt like it was just thrown in for a kiss scene. After all the build up we get for why he transferred, it’s suddenly dropped. And the next time we see her she’s all, ’yeah it’s fine I’ll give him to Yuu’.
I wish that Mikiyo spent more time on building up the tension with the whole relationship. It would have made the series exceptional. Unfortunately I can’t help but feel that it was rushed just so they could do the Mitaka story, which I frankly found misplaced. It was suddenly a change in story focus from the Princesses to Akira.
Also, while I’m the first to compliment extras, and this series has extras by the bucket, I felt there were to many. It feels like if you were take all the extras of the series you’d have enough material to release a volume on it’s own. While it was certainly nice reading them (and seeing some of the other designs), I feel that the space could have been better used.
This was released by DMP, and I have to admit I loved the covers. High Quality glossy slip covers with stunning art on them. The covers of the actual books have a mini-manga on them called Prince Prince, which is basically the reverse of Princess Princess. An all girls school where the girls end up as Princes. Though no cross-dressing is shown there. I actually think Prince Prince would have made a good story in it’s own right.
There was only a few minor issues with the editing. For some reason at one point the Student Council was referred to as Officers, which just didn’t fit right. I also found that in some of the volumes it suffered from bad guttering* which made it hard to read. Overall though this was a good buy and a funny series to read. However contrary to what I was told this is NOT a shonen-ai or yaoi story, it’s probably a pure shojo, though personally I consider cross-dressing to be it’s own genre.
Now, onto the debacle that is Princess Princess Plus.
I actually considered not adding this to my review, because I don’t really like to bad mouth a series in it’s entirety. But in the end I decided to add it. Sorry DMP but this is one story you probably should not have licensed.
There are several problems with this single volume add-on to the series. Firstly it’s a single volume, it tries to do in one volume what the original series does over three. And it it suffers for it. Mikiyo’s story is badly written, flows to fast, and frankly I found the characters irritating. Mikiyo goes for the generic rich boy & pauper, and throws every other cliché you can think of into the mix. We did get another Prince Prince bit, which I did like. But the overall feel of this volume was bad and rushed, not to mention had some not so subtle shonen-ai elements.
Also this volume was moved from DMP to their imprint Doki Doki Books. This was a huge mistake. I like continuity in my manga, and we don’t get it here. We go from five stunning over large volumes to a single titchy (by comparison) crappy volume. Yeah I like the cover art, but it would have looked so much better on a over large slip cover.
I understand that Doki Doki do things differently from their parent, but for a single volume that was a direct continuation of a DMP series, you would have thought common sense would have come into play and they would have matched the format. So that it looks all nice and smart when lined up on the book shelves.
Frankly this volume really failed to impress me, and while I loved the original series, I regret buying Plus, since I felt it was a waste of money (and I got it for free lol).