Saturday, August 9, 2014

Crown (manga, vol. 2) story by Shinji Wada, art by You Higuri, translated by Christine Schilling

Crown combines action, humor, hot guys, and hints of future romance. It was published by Go! Comi and is now out of print, although it's still possible to find cheap copies of the first couple volumes.

This review includes slight spoilers.

Synopsis:

Mahiro's team of bodyguards increases by one – Ren and Jake invite the smitten Chondrite “Condor” Bourne to join them and protect Mahiro during the day, while they're busy hunting down potential assassins and doing research. In the latter half of the volume, a new assassin is sent...but not after Mahiro. Angela, a sexy assassin who only works for expensive jewelry, is told to kill Ren and Jake. She becomes curious about Mahiro, who she guesses is her employer's true target.

Review:

I think I'm going to stop here – I doubt the later volumes are worth the effort and, possibly, expense.

Somehow, Mahiro manages to become even more boring in this volume than she was in the first. It's difficult to believe that she's supposed to be 16 – her puppy-like behavior makes her seem several years younger. When she's not behaving like a disgustingly adorable child, she's enveloping everyone in her aura of gentle love, sweetness, and acceptance.

She sucks Condor in with that aura, and he becomes one of her faithful servants. His behavior is basically that of a stalker, but, since he can kill any potential assassins that might threaten Mahiro, it's all good I guess. I was at least thankful that not one of the guys showed an ounce of jealousy when Mahiro acted affectionately toward any of them. Although I think Condor noticed how very close Mahiro and Ren are.

This volume had fewer bloody killings (but Ren and Jake are good guys, killing people for good reasons!) and fewer icky indications that Ren and Mahiro might become a couple in the future. That should have meant it was better than the first volume. Instead, I found myself growing rapidly tired of the story and characters. Also, I was not happy with some parts of the latter half of the volume.

First, there was Ren's belief that Mahiro needed to build up an “immunity” to strange men. Mahiro had a habit of fainting around naked/nearly naked hot guys, and she was uncomfortable being near the good-looking celebrities visiting her school to shoot a movie. She told Ren and the others, “I can't help it. I'm sort of scared of guys I don't know.” So what did Ren do to try to “help” her? He arranged for him, Jake, Condor, and Angela to wear swimsuits and soak with Mahiro in a hot tub. She was so clearly uncomfortable that I cringed.

Second, there was Angela. It turned out that Angela was really a cross-dressing man. From my understanding, he dressed as a woman because it made him feel better, but he didn't necessarily consider himself to be a woman – it was just a persona he took on, a way of dealing with some of the terrible stuff that happened to him when he was younger. Unsurprisingly, Wada took the easy route with him and turned him into a joke for most of his portion of the volume. “Oooh, Ren was French kissing a man and didn't know it, how gross!” - that sort of thing. And Ren, Jake, and Condor's “how gross” reactions were another opportunity to highlight Mahiro's loving acceptance. I wouldn't be surprised if, in the next volume, Angela realized his emotional wounds were healed by Mahiro's loving smile and decided to become another one of her bodyguards. Or maybe he's being set up to die tragically in Mahiro's defense.

Extras:

A funny little "what happens after the cover image scene" comic on the first page, a two-page comic-style author's note, and a one-and-a-half-page comic-style artist's note. Is Higuri's head a...cucumber?

My read-alikes list is lazy - I just copy and pasted from my post for volume 1. Everything I listed still applies - in fact, Condor makes me think of Full Metal Panic! even more than Ren and Jake do.

Read-alikes:

  • Full Metal Panic! (manga) by Shoji Gatoh, art by Retsu Tateo - Another over-the-top series starring a military guy who's acting as a pretty girl's bodyguard. The guy takes his job very, very seriously and is not at all good at pretending to be an ordinary high school student.
  • Wild Ones (manga) by Kiyo Fujiwara - Another series starring a girl who thinks she's an orphan, until she learns that her grandfather is still alive and is, in fact, a yakuza boss. Her grandfather assigns her a bodyguard, who happens to be a gorgeous and attentive high school-aged boy. Like Mahiro, Sachie is loved by all, but at least she can stand up for herself and doesn't constantly throw her crying self at people. I've written about the first three volumes of this series.
  • The Good Witch of the West, Vol. 1: The Girl of Sera Field (book) by Noriko Ogiwara, illustrations by Haruhiko Momokawa - This stars another secret princess who possesses a jewel that links her to the throne. I haven't read further into the series yet, but I'm guessing there's lots and lots of political intrigue and attempts to kill the princess. I've written about this book.

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