Manga Village

Four-Eyed Prince Volume 1

October 27, 2009

“If you had half a brain you would have realized it was me a long time ago.”

Four-eyed Prince 1By Wataru Mizukami
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Genre: Shoujo
Age Rating: T 13+
Price: 10.99 USD

Poor Sachiko is having the worst day of her life. For some reason she decides to confess her love for her long-time crush, the standoffish but handsome Akihiko, who is the four-eyed prince of the title. As expected he rejects her confession of love. Sachiko goes home to say goodbye to her grandmother guardian as she is sent to a nursing home. Sachiko is going to move back in with her mother, (Sachiko’s father died when she was younger) who hasn’t seen her, for some reason, since she was a baby. Mom has gotten remarried, but her new husband ran off to escape a massive debt. But Sachiko’s mom’s new husband had a son who, for some reason, lives with her even though there is no blood relation. Guess who that boy is.

Sachiko moves into her new home to find that Akihiko is now her step-brother. His enthusiasm toward his new flat-mate is expectedly flat, but that doesn’t keep Sachiko from fantasizing about her brooding new bro.

And it goes on like this. You’ll notice the phrase “for some reason” appears more than once in what is a summary of only the first 12 pages or so. I usually try to turn a blind eye to the leaps in logic that tend to open shoujo manga because the manga isn’t written for adult men, but for more for teenage girls. However, I felt like some of these are dumbed down a little too much for a book that definitely has a spattering of more adult themes later.

We find that Akihiko has an “alter-identity” which is as a bartender/host at a fancy bar in the adult entertainment district of Tokyo’s Kabuki-cho. Sachiko meets him when she is looking for Akihiko, but it seems she is the one that needs glasses as apparently she cannot figure out that Akira IS Akihiko. Maybe it is because, for some reason, Akira (without glasses) hits on the high school student Sachiko, where Akihiko (with glasses) wouldn’t give her the time of day.

If Akira and Akihiko really were two different personalities that were easily identified by whether or not he was wearing glasses, then I could get more behind Four-Eyed Prince, but unfortunately glasses or not, Akira/Akihiko acts with little rhyme-or-reason towards Sachiko. Sometimes he has his hands all over her, and other times he is rejecting and insulting her. Sachiko is (thankfully) not an overly sexualized character, but just a girl experiencing a crush.

Just as these two are squeezed as far as they can go (all other characters in the first half of this volume are minor and make brief appearances) we are introduced to a steady couple that appear to be going through a rough spot in their relationship. This boy’s suggestion of swapping girlfriends leads to one of the most surprising and confusing chapters I have ever read in a shoujo manga. Each character  seems to change their mind about this swap frame-by-frame.

Although Wataru Mizukami’s artwork is capable and up-to-date, it isn’t particularly original. However it will certainly appeal to the audience it is intended for.

I liked that the final chapter of the book was actually a stand-alone side story that had nothing to do with the Four-Eyed Prince. “Mean Boy” is about a middle-class girl hired to spend summer break working as a maid at her rich classmate’s house. They seem to have the house to themselves (besides all the cooks and stylists) as the rich boy’s parents are never home. I liked the artwork in “Mean Boy” as it seemed to be a little more carefully or completely done. There is more tone. However, like the bulk of the main story of Four-Eyed Prince, the character motivations are nothing short of confusing. I am not even sure if it has a happy ending.

Four-Eyed Prince is smart in that it doesn’t introduce a two dozen characters in the first chapter, however the two characters it really does introduce are hard to really get behind. Emotions are confusing, which they surely are for teenagers but they shouldn’t be this confusing for the reader.

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John Thomas

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