Creator: Kanoko Sakurakoji
Publisher: Viz
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Romance
RRP: $8.99
Backstage Prince v2
Reviewed by Michael Aronson

“There’s trouble brewing behind the kabuki curtain. Ryusei’s dad doesn’t want anything – or anyone – distracting his son from his chosen profession. It’s no secret that he disapproves of Ryusei’s romance with Akari. Now he’s determined to sabotage their relationship any way he can!”

And with its second volume, Backstage Prince comes to a close. Really, it’s that short. That’s no complaint, as the events in the first volume sped by at light speed and the second is certainly brimming with story content.

Backstage Prince doesn’t do anything particularly exceptionally, and it’s a difficult series for me to recommend based on its merits. The pacing is more much brisk and satisfying than in most romance stories, the character roles are unique and used to full effect, and the art – especially the expressions on Akari’s face – is really sharp and pleasing to the eye.

But Backstage Prince seems to succeed in terms of what it doesn’t do. While the relationship between Akari and Ryusei is a little shallow, it’s also very believable due to their misunderstandings and poor communication skills. In this case, the dialogue benefits from a lack of clichés and melodramatics. The frame of the story – the dutiful girlfriend of a professional actor – doesn’t grow beyond the scope of its premise and focuses squarely on its small cast of characters and Ryusei’s career. Despite the short length of the series, the characters aren’t forced to grow and change to almost unrecognizable lengths by the end; rather, the ending is quaint and unassuming.

George Carlin may hate the description, but Backstage Prince can easily be summed up as a nice little series. It’s charming, unique, illustrated well and innocently romantic. It hits enough right notes for what it tries to do. Now I’m rather curious to see what Sakurakoji can do with a lengthier series.


12 May 2007
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