cover image Backstage Prince Volume 1

Backstage Prince Volume 1

Kanoko Sakurakoji, . . Viz, $8.99 (186pp) ISBN 978-1-4215-1172-6

Ordinary girl Akari follows a belled cat into a kabuki theater in an opening scene reminiscent of Alice's trip to Wonderland. High school hottie Horiuchi, earlier hurt by Akari's accidental entry, turns out to have broken ribs and a great talent for the stage. Akari becomes his assistant, even though she knows nothing about kabuki, and he hates everyone. There's lots of internal monologue as Akari ponders Horiuchi's attitudes and her feelings about him. He tolerates her because she's the only one who keeps trying to spend time with him regardless of his bad attitude. She falls almost instantly in love but fears her feelings because she'll never fit in his world. Panels consist of the traditional shojo manga focus on heads and facial expressions. The story is similarly traditional, straight romance with the emotionally blocked male needing female redemption to express love. (If this sounds familiar, it's been the grounding for countless Harlequins.) This book provides the emotional drama of Sensual Phrase without the sex, making it suitable for a teen-and-up audience and anyone who loves the roller coaster of feelings as two people meant for each other find each other. (Mar.)