Creator: Hisaya Nakajo
Translation: Anastasia Moreno
Adaptation: Anastasia Moreno
Publisher: Viz
Age Rating: All Ages
Genre: Romance
RRP: $8.99
Sugar Princess v1
Reviewed by Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane

At first glance, Sugar Princess is vaguely reminiscent of Hana-Kimi, manga-ka Hisaya Nakajo's more famous series (also available from VIZ). The initial dynamic between the leads, Maya and Shun, includes Maya refusing to be put off by Shun's dismissive attitude because something in his athletic performance (figure skating, in this case, rather than the high jump) resonates with her. Likewise, the character designs in the two series aren't exactly the same, but there's enough similarity to mark this as Nakajo's work.

The story begins when Maya, who's at a skating rink with her little brother, decides to try a double axel jump that she saw on TV. Despite never having figure skated in her life (and having no idea how to take off or land), she manages a very passable jump--good enough to catch the attention of a skating coach, who immediately scouts her. His ulterior motive? Making Maya a good enough skater that he can pair her with Shun, a famous ex-pairs skater who is now only interested in pursuing men's singles.

As I suggested above, I had a hard time not comparing this to Hana-Kimi, even though the similarities between the stories and characters are only surface-deep. Unfortunately, I think Sugar Princess suffers a bit from the comparison; Hana-Kimi isn't a perfect series, but its characters were more immediately endearing, and the art was a little more engaging. I also had a harder time buying into the plot in Sugar Princess--I'm not a skater, but I couldn't quite suspend my disbelief enough to really buy into the idea that Maya (or anyone) is that much of a natural.

Nakajo's enthusiasm for the subject is very high, though, and that helps. She also continues to have a knack for making athletic moments look beautiful, and some of the most compelling images in the book come when Maya is watching Shun skate. One interesting touch is that Nakajo has included sketches of some of her favorite real-life skaters in between the chapters, instead of going the usual route of using images of the characters, and she also provides a list of the people she interviewed and the print sources she consulted when researching the story.

Review copy provided by VIZ Media.

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