Title: Kiss of the Rose Princess
Author: Aya Shouoto
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat)
Volume: Volume 1 (of 9), $9.99
Vintage: 2009 by Kadokawa Shoten, November 2014 by Viz Media
Genre: Romantic comedy, reverse harem, fantasy
Anise Yamamoto is a fairly normal high school girl, but she stands out, to her dismay, for one very particular reason. When she was younger, her father gave her a black choker with a rose charm centered on the band, and warned her to never remove it, or something terrible would happen to her. Even if Anise wanted to remove it, it’s impossible; she’s tried several times. Every morning she must out run the school’s dress code enforcer, which puts her at the center of unwelcome attention. One day a strange cat-like creature falls from the sky and lands on Anise, somehow also causing her choker to break and fall off. A strange card is left behind, which Anise grabs as she runs off in pursuit, only to fall through some sort of portal and come face-to-face with her homeroom teacher…and a dragon. Her teacher, Itsushi, tells her to kiss the card in her hand, and when she does it summons the Red Rose Knight. The Red Rose Knight also happens to be her classmate, Kaede, who isn’t thrilled to find out he’s bound by contract to Anise. Via a briar whip, Anise is able to give Kaede a direct command, but it also allows him to draw on her blood as a source for his power. Kaede isn’t the only Knight, however. Ninufa, the bat/cat-like creature, coughs up three more cards for Anise, each of which summons the Blue, White, and Black Rose Knights, respectively. All three of these Knights also attend Anise’s school – White is the Student Council President (and Anise’s crush) Tenjo, Blue is the sickly Asagi, and Black is the mysterious Mutsuki. Each Knight has specific powers – Kaede is offensive, Tenjo defensive, Asagi specializes in alchemy, and Mutsuki is a Dark Stalker whose specialty is locating objects. Kaede is mostly indifferent to his position, though he seems to view it as a nuisance. Tenjo absolutely loves the idea of serving anyone, especially his Princess, Anise. Asagi is a sweet, lonely sort who is eager to please and be accepted. Mutsuki flat out refuses to even recognize Anise as the Rose Princess. She has her work cut out, especially since the apparent reason they have all come together is because the Demon Lord is supposed to be coming, though there seems to be a miscalculation somewhere about his exact arrival time. For now, they mostly deal with day-to-day issues, like finding Anise’s choker before her dad returns from his business trip, dealing with a bully targeting Anise, and putting together a successful school festival.
There’s nothing specifically wrong with this title, but there’s not really anything special, either. It’s horribly generic. That said, it reminds me of Arina Tanemura’s stories, so if you like her books (I don’t, which isn’t a surprise) you will probably enjoy this series, too. It also reminds me a little of Cardcaptor Sakura (young girl, interfering mascot, magical summoning cards), but without the charm that makes Sakura a fan favorite. The four boys are fairly cliché. Kaede is a very generic male lead – tries to be calm and cool, but is easily frustrated, a bit hot-headed, and doesn’t view the female lead as a woman (see: nearly every male lead in shojo, but so far there’s just nothing unique about him to make him stand out). Tenjo is the pretty boy with over-the-top sensibilities and an intense romanticization of love (see: Tamaki Suou). Asagi is a combination of traits – tiny, quiet, affectionate, and often physically weak or sickly – which probably makes him the most unique in the bunch, though it doesn’t necessary elevate his interest. Mutsuki is really only unique because he’s not actually human, otherwise he’d fit nicely into the brooding loner category. It’s almost as if someone realized how generic the boys were and decided something extra needed to be tossed in. As for Anise, well…she’s fairly typical, and also not very unique, except for her insane hair which is always all over every panel like it has a life of its own. Again, there’s nothing really negative I can say about the book other than the characters are a bit one-dimensional and it’s just dull overall. The art serves the story well, except for Anise, whose design feels a bit out of place (though I can’t pin down why I feel that way). Also the panels tend to be very busy; a bit too busy at times. Unfortunately I am left with zero interest in any of the characters or the plot, which isn’t a good start to a new series.
Review copy provided by Viz Media.