Title: Four-Eyed Prince Vol 1
Author: Wataru Mizukami
Publisher: Del Rey
May Contain Spoilers
When Sachiko confesses her feelings to the cool, bespectacled Akihiko, he bluntly shoots her down. Her heart broken by his rejection, Sachiko is in for an alarming surprise. Moving in with the mother she hasn’t seen in 15 years, she learns that Akihiko is her step-brother! Gah! Talk about awkward. Will she have another chance at winning his heart, or will he continue to be cold and rude to her at school and at home?
My favorite thing about Four-Eyed Prince is the art. It is so crisp and clean, without much background noise to confuse the eyes. The character designs are typical of series found in Nakayoshi magazine; Wide faces, large eyes, improbably pointy chins. Wataru Mizukami doesn’t go overboard with tones and needless background details, so the illustrations are fresh and uncluttered. With the big faces, expressions are also readily conveyed, so there is no second guessing about how anyone is feeling.
Too bad that plot isn’t as engaging as the art. This is one convoluted romance, and Sachiko’s personal life is full of all of the usual shoujo drama conventions. Too many of them, unfortunately. Her grandmother has been raising her, but she’s suffering from an illness so she’s moving into a nursing home. Sachiko’s father died the year before, and now she has to move in with the mother she hasn’t seen in 15 years! Her mother abandoned them when Sachiko was a baby, but now she wants to be a part of her life again. And to make matters more awkward, Akihiko is her step-brother, and she’ll be living with him, too.
Argh! For having this complicated personal life, Sachiko has still managed to foster a bright, sparkly outlook on life. Too bright and sparkly. Even though Akihiko has flatly put the brakes on any sort of romantic entanglement, she still fantasizes about the two of them living together and creating a loving bond that goes way beyond being siblings. Ick. I don’t care for stories where the heroine and hero are related, even if it’s only through marriage. It just isn’t socially acceptable when siblings are scoping each other out over the dinner table. I don’t even like this particular plot device in BL, and pretty much anything goes in that genre!
OK, to complicate matters, Akihiko has two personalities. Yup, he’s the cold, studious four-eyed prince during the day, but presto changing, a pair of contact lenses later, he’s the charming, handsome bartender Akira. Bartender? He’s 17! Don’t they have a drinking age in Japan? Even more jarring is when Akira gives Sachiko a shot a brandy after being caught out in the rain, in front of his boss, at the bar where he works. All of this so Akira can carry Sachiko home on his back, and listen to her relate the sad tale of her life, and the recent rejection of the love of her life, to the guy she has just met.
The entire plot continues in a similar fashion, and the suspension of belief, for me, was just too much. Through the “Coolest in School” contest, to the trip to the hot springs, the activity taking place on the pages failed to draw me in. The pacing was too uneven, the characters weren’t approachable, and the plot was weak and not terribly interesting. Needless, jarring complications arise at every turn, throwing a wrench into the relationship that Sachiko is trying to foster with Akihiro. If the art hadn’t been so appealing, it would have been difficult to wade through all of the muck to get to the end of the book.
Also included is the bonus chapter “Mean Boy,”which features another happy, sparkly heroine, and another cold, aloof hero to capture her romantic aspirations. Ugh.
Review copy provided by Del Rey