Title: Kiss of the Rose Princess
Author: Aya Shouoto
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat)
Volume: Volumes 2, 3, and 4, $9.99
Vintage: 2009-2010 by Kadokawa Shoten; January, March, and May 2015 by Viz Media
Genre: Romantic comedy, reverse harem, fantasy
There’s a new kid in town – transfer student Haruto Kisugi. He isn’t new to Anise, however, as they were classmates at a previous school. Haruto has followed her to her new school, and wants her to help him in a comedy competition. Anise, of course, is still looking for her missing choker and puts all her free time into that endeavor with her Rose Knights. To determine who will get Anise’s weekend, Haruto and Kaede compete. Kaede wins, but Haruto hasn’t given up on getting Anise’s attention. The search continues for the rose choker, but Mutsuki is attacked by a mysterious foe. When Kaede is next attacked, the presence of another Rose Knight is discovered – the Yellow Rose. Two hundred years ago, the other Rose Knights sacrificed the Yellow Rose to seal the Demon Lord. Now he’s back and wants revenge, and wants to be Anise’s one and only Rose Knight. As Kaede and the Yellow Rose fight, they’re interrupted by the appearance of Anise’s father, Schwarz. He’s not happy that Anise has lost her choker, or that she’s met her Rose Knights. It seems he wants the Demon Lord to break free. There is a way to repair the crumbling seal, but unfortunately it requires the sacrifice of the Blue Rose, who was artificially created for this purpose. After learning that everyone’s been lying to her, and her friend Seiran is meant to die, Anise decides she wants nothing more to do with the Rose Knights or the seal. However, there is another way to repair the seal without sacrificing Seiran, but it requires Anise to form a a true contract with the four Rose Knights. Then she will be able to collect the fragments of the seal (in the form of arcana cards) and repair it, but that means a life of battle against other powers looking for the cards.
It also means a more permanent bond with the Rose Knights. Their powers become stronger, and the stronger their relationships develop with Anise, the stronger they become as well. Only one Rose Knight can become Anise’s true Rose, however, though the circumstances surrounding this are still unclear (other than it means a more emotional, personal relationship with one of them; ie: love). They’re a bit late for the seal, however, but as it starts to crumble, the Yellow Rose appears and sacrifices himself to stabilize it. With the seal stabilized, they can begin looking for the arcana cards. There’s a slight detour, however, when Anise’s father becomes the school nurse and insists on physicals for all the students. His goal is to discover the abilities of the Rose Knights, so they all pull together to help hide everyone’s true abilities from Schwarz. Things get crazier when the two members of idol group Rhodecia start coming to school, sweeping away all the female students with their good looks. Their interest in Anise leads to some bullying, but she has little time to consider that when she discovers that the second place prize in an idol audition competition is a mysterious card.
The “Four Roses” enter the idol competition – Kaede, Mutsuki, Mitsuru, and Anise in a boy’s wig. The first contest is a show of special skills, so the Knights go with magic, Mutsuki using his invisible thread to lift Kaede into the air, and Mitsuru uses his powers to hurl a spear through Kaede’s body. That nets them first place, but the second competition puts Kaede and Mitsuru in drag for a beauty contest, and it doesn’t quite work out. For the final test, they’re free to do whatever they want, and attempt some slapstick comedy. They’re interrupted by Rhodecia, who want to compete against them. Unfortunately, Rhodecia isn’t there just to have fun. They’re actually two more (fabricated) Rose Knights, Lime (Idel) and Orange (Yako), and they’ve come to take Anise for themselves. Idel attacks by using his voice as a sonic weapon, while Yako’s main power is a form of hypnosis, which he attempts to use against Anise. The fight is over when Yako overwhelms himself with his own power, and Idel and Yako retreat. Back at school, one of Anise’s classmates, Mikage, has a crush on Kaede. As thanks for help with a class assignment, Anise agrees to set up a date, and orders Kaede to go out with Mikage. Everyone else tags along secretly to observe, and they also discover an arcana card is hidden somewhere in the amusement park. Something else has been drawn to the park, however, and Mikage isn’t what she seems.
We’ll get my first nit picky problem out of the way. Halfway through volume 3, Schwarz’s name turns into Schwartz. As an editor, it’s very distracting to me, especially since the character has a profile at the beginning of the book, and all three volumes have the same assigned editor. It’s not a one time thing; it changes halfway through the volume then keeps being used. It probably won’t bother most people at all, though. My next problem is that the series is generic and dull, and the pace isn’t as fast as it should be. There seem to be some interesting things hovering around, like Mutsuki’s missing memories which are slowly returning, and the real meaning behind Schwarz’s punishment for Anise, but given that they have to find twenty-two arcana cards, I get the feeling it’s going to take an annoyingly long time to get to the meat of things. Twenty-two generic events, like the idol competition, plus all the daily adventures in between (the theme park in volume 3, and I’m sure we’ll get to a hot springs inn at some point, probably a school festival, and so on). The same sort of things that pop up in most shojo books. And that’s fine, except there’s nothing really interesting going on to make anything stand out. Just little tidbits tucked in here and there that I find way more exciting than the other 170 or so pages that make up the rest. This is sort of a jumble of a bunch of better series (I keep bringing up Cardcaptor Sakura, because there’s some heavy similarities, but it’s nowhere near as endearing), with very little to make it stand out above the others. But if you do like Shouoto’s style, she has two other series available in English – He’s My Only Vampire from Yen Press, and The Demon Prince of Momochi House from Viz Media (out in July). The second series has gotten my attention, so we’ll see if it’s just this series or her style in general that I’m not fond of (or if that one becomes a copy of Kamisama Kiss).
Review copies provided by Viz Media.