I love Akemi Takaido’s drawing style. I love her pretty boys so much that she can almost do no wrong in my eye. Although I should explain that the three volumes of Prince Charming are her only works that I’ve actually read, as they’re the only ones that have been published in English. I do have a small stack of manga by her that are in Japanese, and they are beautiful, but I have no idea what’s going on. So I don’t actually know if Prince Charming is representative, story-wise. Being able to read this one did not enhance my Akemi Takaido experience as much as I’d hoped it would, though.
I’m not crazy about stories where high school teachers seduce their students, or vice versa. (Which is unfortunate for me, given the vast amount of yaoi centering on this plot device – or these two plot devices, if you’re like the Eskimos who supposedly have hundreds of words for snow.) (Which they don’t – not hundreds, anyway – and there aren’t exactly Eskimos anyway, much less one Eskimo language, and it’s all relative and stuff, but we shouldn’t let this sort of equivocation keep a good metaphor down.) If you do like these stories, and you haven’t read this series yet, I suggest you stop reading and just go buy it, because I think it’s a pretty good example of the genre. Otherwise, you’re going to need some more convincing. And I don’t know if that’s what I’m going to do, much as I’d love for so many people to buy this series that some publisher decides to scoop up all Takaido’s works and publish them in English. Or maybe I don’t want that at all. Maybe I’m happier not knowing what she’s saying.
The plot is pretty much exactly what you’d expect. There’s a debauched, hot, surly teacher. Students go for him. One student, Yuasa, catches him, using blackmail to close the deal. Yuasa winds up living at the teacher’s apartment, and the teacher obviously likes him, despite his curiously flat affect (the teacher’s, not the student’s). The student’s two friends are there all the time, and the teacher makes noises about wanting them to leave, but he never goes so far as making them go. The complications that drive the plot are that friend A wants the teacher, and friend B wants Yuasa. And you hope it works out that way, although that seems unlikely, since that’s not what happens with this particular yaoi plot device.
And that’s the rub, I guess. I quite enjoyed the complications re. who might end up with whom. I wanted the wrong people to wind up together. I was supposed to, and I did, and that made me feel kind of manipulated and cranky. And feeling manipulated by an obvious yaoi plot device is – well, stupid. I think my angst indicates that Takaido has something going on here. In general, I’m perfectly happy to go along with the conventions of various yaoi plot devices. I’m not one to whine about clichés. I think I wanted more here because the details of the relationships between the guys who aren’t supposed to get together are so compelling, while the details of the relationship between the characters who are supposed to be together don’t do it for me. But I suspect I’d be happier if I liked this convention more.
I spent the entire series feeling mildly perplexed about the two main characters. All the other characters are more appealing, even Nee-san, a random cutie we see a few times at the convenient underage gay club the three friends frequent. Friend A is surprising and sexy, and friend B is strong and stalwart. Yuasa – has nice hair, I guess. The teacher gives off a nice air of being about to completely fall apart and ruin his life, but his freakish lack of expression makes even that slightly bland and uninteresting.
Oh, but the art! Takaido does so much with so little. Look at these expressions!
While I’m gushing about Takaido’s art, here’s the panel that got me hooked (not from this series).
So clean. So perfect. (Happy sigh.) It’s probably just as well that the Prince Charming story didn’t thrill me to my core. It might have been too much. I might have spontaneously combusted. So, now that I think about it, whew! That was close! I’m a little disappointed, but at least I’m not a film of greasy black stuff coating my dim chambers, or a little green globule clinging to my drum set (depending on whether you favor Dickens or Spinal Tap). Hey, lots of people do spontaneously combust every year. It’s just not widely reported.